Honoring their Memory–The Other Side of the Coin

A feeling of devastation came over the Jewish world as news seeped out about the finding of the bodies of Gil-ad, Eyal and Naftali. Some were in their cars alone upon hearing the news. Others, were sitting with their families and yet others were sitting at smachot, such as at weddings. But no matter where you were upon hearing the news, one thing is certain–you will never forget where you were the moment you heard that tragic first report. It is a moment that is now burned into our national psyche, yet different, perhaps, than any other one of these collective memories up to this point.

As opposed to the past when similar news brought shock and outrage to the Jewish world, this time was different. The uproar in the country both on the social media and in “real life” was an uproar calling for blood. There were, and continue to be, calls for Israel to exact a brutal and crushing punishment to the Hamas and their ilk, and with that I do not disagree. However, that is only one half of the coin. We must also consider the other side of that coin.

While the events of the kidnapping first came to light, there were thousands of postings, twitter feeds and articles written about things we could do that perhaps would work as merits to beseech G-d to bring the boys back home to their families, in good health. And then we witnessed one of the most incredible feelings–and one of the most sustained feelings–of national unity. It was not as though this was a National Religious issue. It was not cut along any party lines. It was not “their” issue. It was–and is–OUR issue. And it continues today as the country and the Jewish world mourns.

And that is how we can honor their memories: Those extra Mitzvot you took upon yourself; the decision to be a little more careful with Lashon Hara; the extra kavana (intent) that you put into your Tefillot; the extra moments of Torah you dedicated to the boys; or ANY other action you may have added to your life (or that of your family), none of those actions should stop with the gruesome discovery of the bodies of Gil-ad, Eyal and Naftali. If anything, they should get stronger and greater because as a nation and as a people we need all of these extra merits.
And above all, the amazing unity that we have witnessed has to continue. If there is ANY good that potentially can come out of this tragedy is the idea that it unified us as a nation and MAY be one that can sustain itself for a long period of time. Religious and secular; Haredi and Dati LeUmi; Sefaradi and Ashkenazi–all of us have banded together and have the POTENTIAL to remain this way.

If you want to honor their memory, just continue with those new actions that you were doing. If you want to honor their memory, let us not slide back to where were were, before this all began. And if you want to honor their memory, make this a conscious decision every single day.

May Hashem send us all a nechama and may we see the day finally when the words of the Navi come to fruition:בלע המוות לנצח, may death be eradicated forever!

יהי זכרם ברוך

About the Author
After living in Chicago for 50 years, the last 10 of which Zev Shandalov served as a shul Rav and teacher in local Orthodox schools, his family made Aliya to Maale Adumim in July 2009. Shandalov currently works as a teacher, mostly interacting with individual students.