A few weeks ago someone called me and asked, “Why is it that bad things happen to amazing people?”
I told her, people become amazing over the course of time and it’s the tragedy or difficulties that reveal the shining diamonds they are.
This has been something I’ve thought about for the last 18 days, as in every report of the parents of the three kidnapped teens I’ve been struck by how special each family is.
Every single boy that was kidnapped – a gem. Smart, caring, responsible, gifted: youth counselors, musicians, composers, bakers. Each one of a large family raised with boundless love and strong Torah values.
A picture of the two sixteen year olds a day before they were kidnapped with friends; Gil-ad on the center part of the tier and Naftali (US citizen) on the bottom.
Eyal Yifrach , a nineteen year old songwriter and guitarist, June 10 a few days before his kidnapping sings one of his original compositions with a friend (Eyal is in the white t-shirt). He commented right before they sang that he looked forward to singing this in the near future at this friend’s wedding. I put this on my playlist and have listened to it often, praying all the time for his safe return along with the other two boys.
Here’s Eyal singing another original composition that he wrote in honor of his cousin’s wedding and performed for her then. This was two months before the kidnapping. My sister commented on the strong resemblance between Eyal and one of my sons. Yes, I also noticed it right away.
And then their parents… These parents…the faith and strength they have displayed has been amazing. They have spoken of trust in God, in the strength of the Jewish people and with the full belief that their sons will return home, healthy and safe. Every single parent has inspired us all.
Last night between 85,000 – 100,000 people came together in Tel Aviv, people from across the religious spectrum – to pray for the safe return of our boys. The kind of event that the families wanted, that their sons would have wanted. A gathering of solidarity and unity. That’s how the people of Israel feel – they are ours.
So many prayers, so many tears, so many good deeds done as a merit for the safe return of our boys… And now they’ve been found. Truly.
My first reaction was one of delight and disbelief – found, so soon after the gathering! God has heard our prayers!
And then I saw the next line of the message…and I burst into bitter sobs. No, no, no!! Not this, it can’t be. It must be a false report, false rumors…I wouldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it.
It was true. It is true. This afternoon our boys were found murdered, buried together in a shallow grave in a field near an Arab village.
It is believed that they were shot shortly after their abduction, with the intent to exchange their bodies for the release of Arab terrorists.
Below, the windows of the army ambulance Humvee transporting the bodies of our slain boys are smashed, stoned by Arabs as they are returned home for burial.
I have no words… what I’m feeling threatens to overwhelm me. I think that most of us are feeling something very similar tonight. Deep, deep sadness, followed by horror, rage, fury – these are some of the emotions racing through us all.
I have no wisdom…I know that our prayers were not in vain, that the merits of all the good deeds performed have been gathered and are being saved for our nation, while simultaneously accompanying our boys on their journey in the next world. But the pain, the gut-wrenching pain…
Our boys…now sitting in the highest Heavenly spheres.
May their memories be a blessing, may we continue to hold on to the incredible feelings of unity that we had these past 18 days and may God avenge their blood.