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This Shabbat the angels wept

Not long before the gates of hell opened, the Halamish victims would have asked for blessings of peace
The scene of a deadly terrorist attack in the West Bank settlement of Halamish on July 21, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson)
The scene of a deadly terrorist attack in the West Bank settlement of Halamish on July 21, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson)

“Peace be upon you, ministering angels, angels of the Most High…”
שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן

We sing these words on Friday night as the Sabbath begins. We sing them with loved ones gathered around our table, their precious faces bathed in the soft light of the Sabbath candles.

We sing these words in the sanctity of our homes.

The father, son, and daughter stabbed to death this Shabbat surely sang these words too. In the last hour of their lives they lifted their voices together in holy song.

“Come in peace, angels of peace, angels of the Most High…”
בּוֹאֲכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן

‘Bring us the peace of the Sabbath’ we implore the angels. We sense their presence in the hushed air around us. ‘Come in, come closer’ we urge them in song. We can almost feel them brushing past us.

The father, son, and daughter surely felt those angels too.

“Bless me with peace, angels of peace, angels of the Most High…”
בָּרְכוּנִי לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאָכֵי עֶלְיוֹן

We pray for tranquility and wholeness.

But of this I am certain. By the time your table is filled with children and grandchildren you offer this prayer for them, always for them.

In the last hour of his life, the father prayed for his family’s well-being.

“Go in peace, angels of peace, angels of the Most High…”
צֵאתְכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאָכֵי עֶלְיוֹן

Thus we conclude the song. If the angels came in peace, if they blessed us in peace, their holy work is complete. We bid them farewell as they make their way back to the Most High,

Until next Shabbat.

So I am wondering — were the angels still in the room when the gates of hell opened and a terrorist emerged, lusting for Jewish blood? Did the angels witness that monster butcher the father, the son, and the daughter? Did the angels hear the screams of the gravely injured mother? Did they feel the terror of the children hiding in a bedroom? Did they smell the metallic tang emanating from a kitchen drenched in blood?

Did they sense the quaking, the convulsion of cosmic order when the innocent are murdered?

And when, at last, they returned to the Most High, were the angels still weeping?

About the Author
Sally Abrams co-directs the Speakers Bureau of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. She has presented the program “Israel and the Middle East: the Challenge of Peace” at hundreds of churches, schools and civic groups throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. A resident of suburban Minneapolis, Sally speaks fluent Hebrew, is wild about the recipes of Yotam Ottolenghi, the music of Idan Raichel, and is always planning her next trip to Israel. Visit: sallygabrams.com
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