Rabbanit Henkin’s Message to Her Students: Your Main Role is to Learn Torah

22 Oct 2015

Rabbanit Henkin spoke to the staff and students of Nishmat last week, after getting up from shiva for her son, Rav Eitam Henkin, Hy”d. We are grateful that Nishmat allowed us to republish them.

First of all, I want to thank all of you. I have no words to express my gratitude… You helped us to get through a very difficult time. We are still immersed in a very difficult period.

I have several things I want to touch upon. We will begin from a very personal place and conclude with the situation in Eretz Yisrael today. All of you know, but I don’t know if there’s anyone sitting in this room who fully grasps the scope of this tragedy. On a personal level, of course, we have bereaved parents, four orphans, bereaved siblings. The tragedy for the family is immeasurable. It was also a tragedy for the Jewish people as a whole and for the Torah world in particular. Rav Eitam’s doctoral advisor called him “a prodigy.” People saw Rav Eitam as a humble, smiling person. But you should know that this was someone who within twenty years could have become one of the leaders of the religious community.

Everyone who knew our noble Naama at any point in her life was surprised by her ability to withstand pressure and, like Rav Eitam, to smile. We were in Neriya, where Naama and Rav Eitam lived, for Simchat Torah with the older children, and we took them to their home. We also sat there for the end of the shiva, and time after time Naama and Rav Eitam’s neighbors would tell us–“Did you know that the two of them would walk together every day at 4 PM to pick up Neta?” The neighbors told us over and over that they were a phenomenon, the two of them together, truly together.

The whole world is coming up to me now and saying, “Be strong! Be strong!” I want to tell them, I don’t know what will be in the future, but I do not feel any frustration regarding faith.

I never believed that HaKadosh Baruch Hu gives out prizes. I never thought that is what He does, so it’s not like I was dissapointed with Him.

HaKadosh Baruch Hu put us here to fulfill a role in the world. All of us have a role. Sometimes that role is pleasant, sometimes that role is not pleasant. But we must get up to fulfill that role, that’s why we are here in this world. So the Henkin family is going to learn about a less pleasant role than it had a month ago.

Unfortunately, since the return of Jews to the land of Israel in the modern era, many lives have been lost. But what is important is that we understand where we are living, despite the price.

I believe that things have never been better for the Jewish people than they are right now. Possibly, possible during the earlier years of King Solomon’s reign. But it’s important that we know that, despite the price, we are experiencing a great period of history. A period which is very, very far from simple.

Despite everything, I believe with all of my being that the miracles which we are experiencing now in history, the establishment of the state of Israel, the ingathering of the exiles from across the globle, dwarf the miracles of our Exodus from Egypt.

We are all being tested. We are being tested since times are hard.

And we must know that we are marching forward, we have a role, and we will fulfill that role. Your main role right now, dear students, is to learn Torah, to grow in your midot, to grow in Ahavat Yisrael.

I hope that I can be the bat kol uniting the Jewish people as much as I can. Let’s all grow in ahavat Yisrael, in good deeds, and together we will pave the way.


The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.