Shayna Goldberg

When the heavens cry

Chol hamoed Pesach.
Heatwave .
Hot, sunny weather.
And then the sky gets dark, thunder rumbles and the heavens begin to cry.

And we hear the horrendous news about another tragic victim of terror.

An April thunderstorm is not typical in Israel.

But these are not typical days.
And this is not a typical country.

In this atypical country, there is an atypical type of black humor.

The kind where 15-years-olds joke with their friends about ensuring a good picture is sent to the news in the event they are murdered.

The kind where, when driving on a less secure road, you hear your son and his third-grade friends talking about how many hours they will have wasted collecting branches for their bonfire if they die before they make it to Lag B’Omer.

The kind where people talk about trying to not be so great because, you know…it’s always the most amazing people that seem to be targeted.

In this atypical country, there is an atypical kind of pain.

The kind where your heart stops beating because another beautiful family was just shattered in an instant.

The kind where your chest tightens and you can’t breathe well because there are just so, so, so many circles of people who are affected.

The kind where you simply can’t comprehend that another generation of kids is now experiencing that same pain.

But in this atypical country, there is also an atypical type of strength.

The kind where a father who has lost two daughters chooses to focus instead on what he has and on the national unity he cherishes and desires.

The kind where teenagers react to tragedy with hugs and sobs and songs about how they are not afraid of a long and arduous journey.

The kind that draws people, despite all of this, to move their families from comfortable places like England to be part of this journey

Years ago, I saw a provocative film called כחלום יעוף (A Fleeting Dream) about one man’s intense and ultimately deathly passion for Kever Yosef.

The final line of the movie reverberates often in my ears:
“If there is nothing in your life that is worth dying for, what are you living for?”

Am Yisrael Chai.
The people of Israel do their best to go on living.

We try to find meaning in our very fears. In our lives here. There is an understanding that we are part of something much greater than ourselves. Much greater than just our own family. Much greater than just our own time.

We are living. At times happy and joyful. At times sad and mournful. At times hopeful. At times scared. At times all of them at once. But living.

Our Gush Etzion community has experienced death. It is painful. It is awful. But we strengthen each other and continue to choose life. To go on living. To live deeply. To live with meaning. To live with intent.

Sometimes when you are in pain, you feel even more alive.

Am Yisrael Chai.

But today, the heavens are crying.

About the Author
Shayna Goldberg (née Lerner) teaches Israeli and American post-high school students and serves as mashgicha ruchanit in the Stella K. Abraham Beit Midrash for Women in Migdal Oz, an affiliate of Yeshivat Har Etzion. She is a yoetzet halacha, a contributing editor for Deracheha: and the author of the book: "What Do You Really Want? Trust and Fear in Decision Making at Life's Crossroads and in Everyday Living" (Maggid, 2021). Prior to making aliya in 2011, she worked as a yoetzet halacha for several New Jersey synagogues and taught at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School in Teaneck. She lives in Alon Shevut, Israel, with her husband, Judah, and their five children.