Thursday morning, the body of Dvir Sorek was found 5 km/3 miles from my house. Dvir was found stabbed to death, lying at the entrance gate to the town adjacent to my hometown. Dvir was a 19-year-old student, who was spending his time enriching his Jewish learning (in yeshiva) before drafting into the IDF.
At a first glance, Dvir’s external features can seemingly be those of a stereotypical “Jewish settler.” An external presentation that for many might be associative with right-wing radicalism, hatred towards his Palestinian neighbors, and even religious violence.
If you read about Dvir’s murder, you will learn that he was found dead clutching the books of the famous Israeli author, David Grossman. Grossman, left-wing, secular, peace activist, is a long time supporter of the two-state solution. Dvir had purchased these books as a gift for his rabbis because he wanted show his appreciation with something different and unique. Dvir’s gift choice may seem odd for someone with his type of profile. However, Dvir’s father works in publishing, and quite obviously raised his children with passion and enthusiasm for religious text-based learning, as well as secular literature and studies. Without infringing or disrespecting his community, Dvir wanted to share his love of secular literature with the people whom he felt had enriched his religious learning.
What his picture won’t tell you is that his most powerful trait was the internal drive he had to fix the world, to “love each living person, with no regard to religion or color” (according to the head of his yeshiva). What the picture also won’t tell you is that he attended meetings with the grassroots Friends of Roots organization, which brings together Israelis and Palestinians living in the West Bank, in efforts to learn about one another and foster coexistence.
On Sunday, we will commemorate the Fast of Tisha B’Av, what has come to be known as the annual day of Jewish mourning. Among other terrible events in Jewish history, it is the day we mourn the destruction of Temple in 70 CE. Many believe the Second Temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred between Jews. While the Romans might have been the ones to physically destroy the city of Jerusalem, the Jewish communities emotionally and sociologically destroyed themselves from within. By choosing to judge, choosing to see themselves as separate from “the other,” by keeping their children sheltered and teaching to hate, the people were destined to a future of exile and perpetual suffering.
It is not a coincidence that 2,000 years later, humanity still struggles with the very same ancient problem. To judge another by their external features, to believe one is better than another, to teach hatred to the next generation will surely only lead to more pain and suffering. May we commit ourselves this Tisha B’Av to kindness, to love the other as you would yourself, and maybe next year at this time we will no longer be mourning.
May the soul of Dvir Sorek z”l be elevated and may his family and friends be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion.