Today, along with all of am yisrael, i mourn the loss of 3 of our sons.
truly, i'm surprised by the depth of my pain and sadness. i had suspected for 18 days that it would end this way, as many of us did. but somehow, the loss of hope that maybe, just maybe, we'd get a message that they were found alive and ok, has been a harder blow than i expected.
i do not remember feeling such a sense of bereavement before. 18 days of praying, of tears, of my sons praying, of my daughter praying, of wondering, of hoping, has welded gilad, naftali and eyal onto my heart as though they were my own. Like so many of us, i looked each of my children in the eyes today and told them that i have sad news for them, that the 3 boys who were taken have been found dead. I told my 9 year old daughter that it's ok to be sad, that it's ok to cry, and hugged her while we both cried. I told my 6 year old son, who had just received his siddur a few days ago along with the heartening message that Hashem is our Father and our King, Who wants to give us everything and also can give us everything. I explained to him, in the words of Noam Wachsman, that like every father, sometimes Hashem says No.
it has not, really, been a good month. i heard the news about our sons' murder while i was attending a memorial marking the sheloshim of a friend who was also taken too young, too soon, too unjustly. Roughly equidistant between these two deaths was the death of my cousin, a man who had a lived a long, successful, and fruitful life, in which he achieved much, planted much, and left behind a long trail of good deeds, lives saved, and descendants who continue in his footsteps. Much as Eyal, Gilad & Naftali would have done, had they had the time. Much as Malka would have done, had she had the time.
Before each of these deaths i reel somewhat, stagger somewhat, set myself back on my feet with the reminder that 'yesh din v'yesh dayan' - there is justice and there is a Judge. But sometimes i stagger just that bit more, and it takes longer to regain my feet.
I read once about a teenage boy, just after the liberation of the camps after the holocaust. He came from a respected long line of rabbis and talmidei chachamim and used to be an ilui (child prodigy at talmud), but he had lost all his family and seen his father shot before his eyes, and was no longer interested in anything to do with G-d or Torah or Judaism. He was brought to the Klausenberger rebbe by someone, who hoped that the rebbe would be able to convince him to return to his roots. The rebbe talked to the boy for a few minutes, then he sat down next to the boy and began to cry. The rebbe cried and sobbed "G-d took the best ones, and left only us. He took the best, and left only us". The boy cried with him, and together they cried and repeated those same words for a long time. Eventually the rebbe put his arm around the boy, and said 'We are all that He left. We have to try our best.'.
These are the words i hear in my head, now: "He took the best of us, and left only ourselves. He took the best, and left only ourselves".
I find that i'm unable to join in calls for vengeance. I'm aware that i have no answers. i know that no amount of palestinian blood will bring back our boys or lessen my sadness, our sadness. I know that there is just one reason why they were killed: esav sonei et yaakov, esav hates jacob. Why does it have to be like this? Because.
Before my daughter went to school, i told her that it's ok to cry, and ok to be sad, and it's also ok to enjoy the swimming that she has today, and to enjoy being with her friends. Because Hashem took the best of us, and left only ourselves. We have to try our best.