“Ema, Was it Very Meaningful?”

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meaningful_featMy sister in law, Shayna Goldberg, who lives in Alon Shvut near where the boys were kidnapped, shared her reflections upon attending the tragic funeral for Eyal, Naftali and Gil-ad z’l this week. I found her words incredibly powerful, inspirational and worth sharing:

“Are they dead?” Asked my 8 year old Tuesday morning after we gathered our children in our bed and told them that we have “something very sad to tell you.” “Who? Naftali?” asked my 4 year old with big open eyes because of course he knows the names of all three boys. He has been davening for them every day in gan. (My 6 year old can tell you their mothers’ names as well.) Meanwhile our 10 year old who had been to the rally on Sunday night buried his face in the pillow bracing himself to hear the horrible news that he knew was about to be shared. When his worst fears were confirmed he asked us if Hashem has a plan that somehow this is for the good. He himself returned from the rally with new found feelings of closeness to his chiloni counterparts. “They really are a big part of our Am” he told us that night.

My 4 year old wants to know if it was the Romans who killed them. “No”, I tell him “other very very bad people.” But as if he somehow understands the inherent message of Maoz Tzur and V’hi Sheamda he often confuses the “Romans”, the “Mitzrim” and the “Naatzim.” I quietly thank G-d that he has no name for or sense of our current enemies because I don’t want him to develop a fear or a hatred for those he often sees around him. My children have a lot of questions. The same questions we all have. Why? How could this happen? Why would Hashem want this? What should I daven for now in my tefilah ishit because this is what I have been thinking about for the last couple of weeks? We tried to answer what we could and explain to them that we don’t always understand but that our tefilot were not a waste…and then we hugged them and cried…and got them dressed for their first day of camp and sent them on their way. They absorbed the news, processed it each in their own way and then continued on with what they were scheduled to do. Late that night when I returned home from the funeral and went to kiss my kids in their sleep my 10 year old stirred and asked me with his eyes closed “Ema, was it very meaningful?” Yes, I answered.

Yes, it is meaningful to be part of a nation where thousands upon thousands of people came from across the country, walked miles from where their buses unloaded them and then stood hours in the hot sun to be there to comfort and to honor strangers that they had never met.

Yes, it is meaningful that in the heat, squished together, no one pushed, shoved, even raised their voice. People fainted and others rushed to help. Water bottles were shared, snacks were given away from those who brought extra to those in need. Cell phones were passed around when batteries died.

Yes, it is meaningful to sing words of Tehillim and tefila that have been said in every generation by Jews all over the world and feel like somehow we continue to find the strength to have emuna in terrible times.

Yes, it is meaningful to see and hear three bereft fathers recite kaddish together and still be able to praise Hashem’s name after everything they have gone through.

And yes, it is meaningful to be here, to live here, to raise children even right here in Alon Shvut, right now. Where else would I want to be but here? In a country where you feel cared for and loved by and connected to complete strangers because they are your people and together you share a crazy history and a common destiny. Together you cry and daven and sing. Together you hope for a happier time, a better day. And together you know it will come because our morality, our humanity, our decency, our care and kindness and deeply held beliefs and commitments are intact. Our children know it, they feel it, they couldn’t be prouder to be in Israel and to feel a part of this very special people in a very special land.

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