In their memory... when words fail us
Yit’gadal v’yit’kadash sh’mei raba... May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified
How do parents standing at the gravesite of teenage children say this in the spirit in which it is meant? Having been there myself the only option is to draw strength from the three Fs, family, friends and faith so that in the face of indescribable tragedy one can still sincerely affirm one’s faith in the Almighty.
b’al’ma di v’ra khir’utei... in the world that He created as He willed.
Is this really the plan that God had for the world he created and willed? Or is it instead, and what may make more sense, simply an abhorrent misuse of the intelligence granted to us by the Holy One by people who see human lives as, for lack of a better term, disposable.
v’yam’likh mal’khutei b’chayeikhon uv’yomeikhon... May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days
But the kingdom over which He reigns is in turmoil everywhere, not only here. Also in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, the Ukraine... is there an end to this list? 100 years after the start of World War I and 69 years after the end of World War II in which 200 million people died, have we learned nothing?
uv’chayei d’khol beit yis’ra’eil, ba’agala uviz’man kariv v’im’ru. Amen... and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel, swiftly and soon now say: Amen
But in the history of our people so many generations have not had the right in their lifetimes to see the fulfillment of this promise. Eyal, Gilad and Naftali did not even live long enough to anticipate the fulfillment of God’s promises to the Jewish people. What do we say to them? And to their parents?
Y’hei sh’mei raba m’varakh l’alam ul’al’mei al’maya... May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.
And the entire congregation responds with the only words left to them, given that they don’t know anything else to say... to bless the name of the Lord forever and ever. Other words seem vapid, pointless, inconsequential, and worthless in the face of such a tragedy.
Yit’barakh v’yish’tabach v’yit’pa’ar v’yit’romam v’yit’nasei, v’yit’hadar v’yit’aleh v’yit’halal sh’mei d’kud’sha... Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One
So we return to the exaltation of God, who we believe so wanted this event to turn out otherwise but was unable to interfere when natural law was in effect. Naftali Frankel’s mother had it right when she said “God does not work for us, we work for Him.” So we continue to offer praise to the One who gives us the strength and courage to face life’s most difficult moments.
B’rikh hu... Blessed is He.
And once again, lacking sufficient vocabulary, we say simply “Blessed is He.” But we are also angry and frustrated and desperate to do something to demonstrate our frustration that this is what life in Israel has come to, sacrificing our children for no reason other than some crazed individuals’ decision that for political reasons it’s a good thing to kidnap Jews and, if the plan turns sour, simply kill them and bury them in a shallow grave. The Torah says, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. That would seem to indicate that it is our right to catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice, even blow up their homes so that their families and their communities will learn a lesson. And so we did but did they? B’rikh hu... Blessed is He.
l’eila min kol bir’khata v’shirata toosh’b’chatah v’nechematah, da’ameeran b’al’mah, v’eemru: Amen... beyond any blessing and song, praise and consolation that are uttered in the world and say Amen.
But beyond reaffirming our faith in the Creator and punishing the perpetrators, do we have the right to use such a tragic event to unleash the full force and power of our military to destroy our perceived enemy and his institutions? And does our enemy have a right to gloat over the kidnaping itself and pass out sweets to their population praising such a dastardly act? Is there no reason left in the world at all? Is sanity something political leaders lose when they take office? Has humanity lost every shred of decency given to us by our Creator?
Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya... May there be abundant peace from Heaven
Sad to say, we have lived in this country for 66 years and there has never been peace, occasionally quiet, but never peace. Neither has there been peace for the thousands of years our forebears lived here, nor has the world itself every experienced even one year where universal peace was the norm. And young people like Eyal, Gilad and Naftali pay the price for this, yet again. May their memories be for a blessing.
v’chayim aleinu v’al kol yis’ra’eil v’im’ru... and life upon us and upon all Israel. And say Amen.
So we continue to pray for that elusive right to live in our land in peace, without worrying about whether we will see our children and grandchildren return home safely, without worrying about our family members getting killed en route to their destinations, without worrying about whether we will be fortunate enough to retain this land over which so much precious blood has been spilt.
Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil v’im’ru, Amen... He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace, upon us and upon all Israel. Amen.
A final prayer for that most elusive of goals, peace upon all of us. Let us hope that each of these three young men will be a meilitz yosher, a true advocate for all of us in the Holy court so that their sacrifice will not be in vain. We deserve nothing less.
Sherwin Pomerantz is a 30 year resident of Jerusalem, president of Atid EDI Ltd., an economic development consulting firm and past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel.