We hold our loved ones tighter tonight. Some of us cry outwardly; we’re all crying inwardly. The devastation tightens our resolve. Some of us call out for justice; some of us call out for peace. None of us call for revenge. That is not our way.
We cry together for our loss. For the loss of our nation. For the families. For our three boys. They were our brothers and sons, our students and friends. They were three boys we’d never heard of. Three boys we wish we’d never heard of.
We cry for three boys who 18 days ago galvanized our nation, re-forging our national identity. Prayers, like waves against the beach, crashed upon the gates of heaven. Vigils, demonstrations, banners, communal songs and flags, even hashtags. For what? For our sense of national identity.
I cannot recall the last time Jews of all stripes and Israelis of all stripes (with truly few exceptions) were so united.
We cry together because Yakov Naftali, Gil-Ad Michael, and Ayal הי״ד, brought out the best in us. We mourn in the darkness of their loss which is made so much clearer in light of the unity their capture elicited.
R. Yehoshua Weitzman wrote, in Rav Kook’s vein, עם הנצח לא מפחד מדרך ארוכה, ‘the Eternal nation is not afraid of a long journey.’ Ours is indeed a long journey.
It started millennia ago and it will continue for millennia to come. And from our tradition, we know that בערב ילין בכי, לבוקר רנה– though we may weep tonight, joy comes with daybreak. Dawn does not mitigate the hurt; it helps focus the light found in our shared lives.
Already, not hours after learning of their deaths, food and charity drives have begun; tributes to their memory.
Be proud Israel. Our People values neither death nor destruction. We value life and learning, growing and building, family and community, our Nation, our People, our Land and love. Be proud of those values and of our sense of unity that lets us, even forces us to weep.
Be proud as we cry together and hold your head high.
Tonight, we remember, the Eternal Nation fears not the long journey.
Tonight, we cry together with our heads held high.