Basically; Just What You Saw
"Keep the Achdut. It's What Comforts Us"
Over these past few searing weeks, we have become familiar with the parents of our dear brothers, Eyal, Gilad and Naftali Hy”d through the lenses of the media as they gave Jews worldwide everlasting Lessons in Faith, Dignity and Courage.
Over the past 48 hours, I got to see these extraordinary, ordinary people close up while paying shiva calls to them, and in the case of Gilad Shaer’s family, their entire community, as we spent Shabbos in their hometown of Talmon.
So, how do things look behind the curtain? Basically; things are just as you saw them in the public arena. They are soft-spoken and humble, yet have the faith and steely fortitude that allowed them to weather the tsunami they all had to endure over the past three weeks. They keep referring to their sons as, “normal kids,” and kept talking publicly and privately about their hobbies and interests, but these were clearly spiritual young men whose neshamos (souls) were elevated.
Just one story out of many: In the Shaer home, there are two framed pictures of Gilad with the legendary Rabbi Grossman of Migdal Ohr (if you want to be inspired, have a look at this video, and here is an interview of Rav Grossman given by Yair Lapid back when he was a talk show host.).
The story behind the pictures (see above) was that as Gilad's thirteenth birthday approached, his father asked him what he would like for his bar mitzvah. In response, Gilad said that he would like a meeting with Rabbi Grossman.
Rabbi Grossman's staff gave them a 5-10 minute slot, but they wound up meeting for an hour and forty minutes as Rav Grossman was clearly taken by Gilad's personality and sincerity. Most astounding, especially in light of what recently happened, was that during their time together, Gilad asked Rav Grossman what he could do to bring more Kiddush Hashem to the world.
Four of us Americans spent this past Shabbos together in Talmon. We went to give chizuk, but we all got far more inspiration from the community members and their incredible, soft-spoken Rav than we gave. All four of us independently and collectively felt that there is something very special there. As there must be in the yeshiva two out of the three boys h'yd attended as evidenced by everything we saw and heard from their Rosh Yeshiva.
We are still processing all that happened and all we had seen in the past few days, but in the meantime, allow me to share a thought with you that I told the english speaking members of Talmon yesterday afternoon at a meeting we had.
We are all painfully aware that there have been so many tragedies in Eretz Yisroel over the past decades, many with far more casualties. Yet many of us feel that, to the best of our recollection, none united our people worldwide across the entire spectrum of religious observance and social backgrounds like the events of the past few weeks did.
Perhaps, I suggested, it was simply that the achdut in which these children, families and their communities lived their lives merely radiated outward to all of us.
Before leaving the Frankel Shiva home a few hours ago, I asked them what message they would like to convey to Klal Yisroel. They simply said, "Keep the achdut. It's what comforts us."
My dear friends, they and their children showed us how it's done and got us started on a path that will lead to all the blessings of the Torah.
Now it's our turn to sustain it.
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