Please stop talking, for one minute — about what did or did not happen on Sunday when a terrorist drove a truck over our children on a beautiful promenade overlooking the Old City in Jerusalem, killing four of them and injuring many others. Stop talking about Elor for one minute, and the state of the army, the future of the military, the ways that you think this case does or doesn’t change our children. Stop talking about the despicable people handing out candy on the streets in celebration and about the fireworks blasting in their towns each time they take one of ours.
I wasn’t at any of these events, and I didn’t witness what occurred. What I’d like to talk about, instead, is this video (below). Because I was at the funeral for Erez Orbach, a sweet, soft-spoken 20-year-old, who was buried in the military section of the Kfar Etzion cemetery yesterday. I was there to hear his grandmother eulogize him. His grandmother, whom he should have been eulogizing someday in the distant future when she has finished a long and healthy life. But instead, she was eulogizing him. She finished her sweet, touching eulogy with the words “Thank you for being you, Erez. And thank you for allowing us to be part of your life.”
I was there to capture a moment when the funeral ended. A moment in time that transcends almost every moment I’ve ever seen in my life. A moment of tenderness, unity, hope.
I don’t know how it started. When the funeral ended, I left the area for a few minutes to pay my respects to the far-too-many people whose graves I wanted to visit in Kfar Etzion. As I kissed the final rock that I placed on the foot of one of their graves, I turned back to Erez’s funeral. I approached the area where he was buried to find a few hundred people surrounding Erez’s family. They were standing in a large circle swaying together and singing. Two of my sons are in yeshiva with Erez’s brother, Alon, and the entire yeshiva was there to pay their respects. The entire yeshiva — the entire high school of 150 plus boys — was surrounding their friend and holding him up in song.
I can’t, or I won’t, comment about many things. Some of them because I wasn’t there, and others because I don’t have enough knowledge. Some because they are so profoundly disturbing that they make it difficult to continue living in our glorious Land, and some because they are too terrifying.
But this, this I will comment on.
I have never, in my many decades, seen something like this at a funeral. I have never seen such hope and faith and strength being shown to someone who could, at that very moment, feel like the world was ending. But Alon’s friends — our future and the future of our army — were standing there holding him and his family up, and showing him that they are literally surrounded by love. That together they will get through this terrible time.
And this, this is My Israel. And these, these are MY people…my hope for a better day today and tomorrow, and for all of the tomorrows to come.