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Menachem-Av, 5734

"Yom HaZikaron" - A Personal Note


Written by the rabbi

Dedicated to the memory of
Israeli soldiers lost in battle

לשיעור זה בעברית: מכתב אישי להורים שכולים

Today is IDF Yom HaZikaron, the day set aside for commemorating the lives of Israeli soldiers lost in battle. What follows is a letter which I wrote to a bereaved couple on Kibbutz Zikim whose son was killed in the Yom Kippur War. The letter was written following the funeral procession, during which I acted as an Army Rabbi.

28 Menachem-Av, 5734

Dear Moshe and Ruth,
Shalom. I know that I will not succeed in accurately expressing the thoughts and feelings which reside deep inside of me. Therefore, please try to read between and beyond the lines of this letter.
Today I participated in the funeral procession of your son, Nimrod, of blessed memory. I participated as a Jew, a partner in the painful and distressing fate of your son, who gave his life defending the nation of which I too am a member. After the ceremony I harbored a desire to return with you to your home and to mourn there with you, thinking that perhaps this would serve to demonstrate my solidarity and my sharing in your sorrow and bereavement. It was not my intention to say anything in your presence though. I merely wished to sit in silence...and to listen; to know just who this son of yours was that died on behalf of us all.

I experienced a special unfamiliar sensation during the funeral: Amidst all of the grief and the pain, I became filled with an inner closeness, belonging, and - though I hesitate to use the expression, it seems to be accurate - love, for the bereaved Moshe and Ruth.

I decided against joining you because I was advised not to. Somebody told me, "Don't come! You are not wanted here; you are an Army Rabbi - you'll just cause people to be uptight!" I clearly was not interested in causing people to feel uptight. To the contrary, I wanted to help ease the pain. Therefore I chose not to come. But, at any right, I want you to know that I am with you in spirit, and that we, the entire House of Israel, look on in pain and pride at all those who lead the charge in order to defend the nation and push back the enemy.

Despite the great differences between us as far as worldview and lifestyle are concerned - you, workers on Kibbutz Zikim; I, a pupil at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem - and without attempting to hide or overlook these differences, it seems to me, and so I have been educated, that there is infinitely more uniting us than there is separating us. What unites us is that fact that we both belong to the Jewish people, and more...

Be strong Moshe and Ruth!
Yours Truly,
Zalman
May the Almighty comfort all of the bereaved families of the House of Israel, through the comfort of Zion and Jerusalem.


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