From Pain to Power

I sit here writing and I am shaking. I haven’t slept well the past two nights and my eyes are glued to a computer screen for constant updates, for all or any information, of which there seems to be very little. On Shabbat our communities and families said extra tehillim and today we continue to pray. This morning when I took my kids to kindergarten and school, the usual cheerful greetings, smiles and looks of a happy new week were intermingled with worry, sadness, and hope in the eyes of neighbors and friends.

As a mother and a Jew, I am sad and scared and sick to my stomach.

Normally, not a Friday night goes by when I don’t think of the Fogel family. I lie in bed saying Keriat Shema, and I imagine the nightmare, the blood, the horror of the surviving members of their family. I give thanks for all I have and I pray that those atrocities never happen again. I usually wake up once or twice in the middle of the night to go check on my children and tuck them in a little tighter.

Often, I see the faces of David and Naava Applebaum, close family friends who were murdered the night before Naava’s wedding by terrorists let out not long before in “peace negotiations” with our enemies. I think of the many innocent lives, pure souls who were ripped right out of this world, taken from us by those who hate.

This past Friday night, as I tossed and turned, I thought of three more Jewish souls who desperately need our tefillot and whose neshamot cry out for our help. I added them, their families, their misery and pain to my prayers.

We are with you, Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal. We are by your side.

There are no words. No statement made, blog composed, or essay written, can possibly express our true emotions. To say we share your struggles, fears, and pain, does not even touch upon what we are feeling. But we are with you and we haven’t stopped thinking about you.

We are all family and we send you our love. You are in our hearts, our hopes, and our prayers. May Hashem grant you a safe and speedy return and may Am Yisrael never have to endure such evil again.

Unsuccessful kidnapping attempts, stabbings, thwarted bombings and other terror attacks are but a few of the miracles that happen every day in Israel. Sometimes, thankfully not frequently (though even once is too often), the evil lurking around the corner creeps up quickly, and feeling helpless, we cry. We muster our strength and assemble together. We pray and write, sign petitions and meditate, gather in groups and take time out individually.

And yet, we wish we could do more.

Then I realize we can and should be doing a lot more. As the wave of sadness passes through me, my angst turns to frustration and my frustration gives way to anger.

I am furious. I am outraged. I am livid!

Why aren’t we doing all we can to show our enemies these kinds of attacks will not be tolerated and taken lightly? Why do we continue to treat terrorists with soft-spoken tones of rebuke and punishments in shades of gray? Why haven’t we caught these monsters yet?

As a Jewish independent state, when an act of war and terrorism is committed against us, we have the obligation to retaliate. We must counter such fearful attacks. It is our duty to prove that such cowardly actions are self-destructive and futile.

But even more so, Hashem gave us the tools to protect our citizens. It is our responsibility, us, as a people, a government, and an army, to implement crucial measures and enforce the means necessary to keep our loved ones safe. We must prevent these attacks before they even happen. No family should have to endure such hardship.

In Exodus 14:15 Hashem tells Moshe, “Why do you cry out to me? Speak to Bnei Yisrael and go!” The Midrash expands upon this: “Hashem tells Moshe, ‘My children are in crisis, the sea is storming with enemies chasing and you stand in extended prayers?! Why are you crying out to me? There is a time to lengthen your prayers and a time to shorten them.’”

With our prayer must come action. Perhaps it is time to shorten our prayers and truly act swiftly and justly.

מִי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב יוֹסֵף מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן דָּוִד וּשְׁלֹמֹה, הוּא יְבָרֵךְ וְיִשְׁמֹר וְיִנְצֹר אֶת נֶעְדְּרֵי צְבָא הֲגַנָּה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת הַשְּׁבוּיִים

גלעד בן בת גלים
יעקב נפתלי בן רחל
אייל בן איריס

About the Author
Atira Ote is a passionate rabbi's wife, mother of five, artist and translator currently living in Jerusalem. She has translated a few volumes of Peninei Halachah by Rav Eliezer Melamed and has put out a CD of original Jewish songs, called "Vayhi Or", with her husband. Take a look at her artwork: or listen to their music: