A time to cry: by Leah Jacobson
Guest post : By Leah Jacobson
Not usually one to put things out there but couldn’t hold back this time…
I am afraid to start writing about the past few weeks, because I am unsure of what will come pouring out. It’s like when you are holding together emotions by a thread and some well-meaning individual comes over and gives you a hug, causing the floodgates that had been held so precariously in place until then to open.
It’s not that I have not shed thousands of tears these past few weeks. On the contrary. Since the kidnapping of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali I have cried repeatedly, out of fear for their safety, compassion for their parents, gratitude and amazement at the unity of the response by Jews around the world, and sadness for the sorry state of disunity that preceded it, and that threatens to return.
I was part of many tefilah and Tehillim groups, and among those who lit extra Shabbat candles and consciously dedicate the zechut of my mitzvoth for any shred of good news that they might help bring.
At Matan I was part of a group of women who prayed for their welfare, and felt like I was amid 50 Rachel Imeinus, so powerful were their words and tears. I listened to and concentrated heavily on the prayer or the state of Israel, and the protection of our brave soldiers, the wisdom that Hashem should please bestow on our leaders, and the safe return of our captives. I found new meaning in the words of my every day tefilot. I was almost surprised to have found them to be expressive of the emotions I was acutely feeling in these difficult days. There they were, saying what I could not compose clearly myself amid all of the emotion, and they are there all along. I even resorted to social media, adding my voice as a Raanana mother to the millions of others who were crying out in all of the ways we know how.
I found myself thinking about those beautiful boys at all hours, comforted by the notion that if they were products of these strong, brave families we were seeing on the news, they themselves had the tools to deal with this nisayon capably. I imagined them reciting tefilot by heart as they did daily, saying Tehillim that they have known since childhood to give themselves strength, reviewing the Torah they had learned hours or days before they were taken to defy their enemies’ ultimate wish, singing songs of faith to pass the interminable hours, telling each other stories of giborim throughout Jewish history for a distraction, and finding comfort in knowing that their families, their army and their people were doing everything they could to bring them home safely and soon.
I imagined the miracle that we all hoped for and the tremendous Kiddush Hashem that would be publicized around the world bringing glory to our Torah life.
And when the news came in that their bodies were found, and that horrifying recording of the distressed call was broadcast, and the details unfolded making it apparent that they were murdered almost immediately after being abducted, I cried and cried again. This time tears of sadness, deep and painful. For the moms that would never hug their boys again, for the nation that had pulled together and that would now have to navigate their way through the potential crush to their faith, for our children who struggle to understand how bad things like this can happen, and for the enormity of the political ramifications that would surely follow.
But mostly I cried because mingled with our devastation and grief were feelings of hatred and violence toward our enemies. Tainting our sorrow were these ugly, base reactions that have no place there at this moment. It is an arch-enemy who can take innocent children and murder them, and a depraved society that can celebrate the act from its elders to its children. But what I found most abhorrent is their unwelcome presence in our most private moments of grief. This adds the enormous task of controlling our vengeance at the time when we are most vulnerable to its escape. It must not be allowed to take over.
We are a people of peace, and we celebrate life. If someone defiles our existence and tramples our values we must pause to mourn, and clean off the wound. Then we must stand tall again and hold our heads high above our enemies. Our response must show that our sorrow does not weaken our resolve. Rather, it strengthens us to live life with purpose and meaning, to fight evil and promote justice in our land and in the world.
I tend toward the spiritual, not the political, the ideal not necessarily the practical. And I suppose that if someone felt the absence of the boys acutely, as we all did, they might feel that they have earned the right to respond single-handedly and violently. But this is not true. Take the cues from the families themselves who have called for continued unity and prayer rather than vengeance and violence. As Jews, we know that the secret to our existence as a nation and in our holy Land is our unity. A unity that results from mutual respect and acceptance is so much more preferable than a unity driven by tragedy. A unity that eradicates the skepticism and mutual mistrust that has found its way into our hearts will heal our national pain. The unity we create amongst ourselves is the most powerful weapon we can have to defeat our enemies. I continue to pray for that unity.
The unity we create amongst ourselves is the most powerful weapon we can have to defeat our enemies.
My daughter and I joined thousands who flocked to comfort any or all of the families of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. We felt the need to be present for them and support them, and to remind them that we are all with them through this. As we stood in the crowd of hundreds waiting to offer our words of nechama, we could hear people talk about the achdut and how it must continue. It’s a struggle, and can be a hard sell, as each one waits for the other guy to make the first move or the bigger compromise. But we must not give up, not now, not ever.
May we turn this tragedy into joy, bringing light to all of Am Yisrael and along with it the geulah shelema!