By Larry Gordon
The news media outlets that we read, subscribe to, and are possibly even addicted to have been, so far, strangely silent. I’ve scoured pages of the respectable dailies in which there has been nary a word.
What is there for them to say? That four good, G-d-fearing men were wantonly cut down, without provocation, in the most brutal fashion is beyond the comprehension of even our usual critics. Any words are extremely inadequate. But something needs to be said.
If the media critics of everything that is Jewish and Israeli would not be so out there in their quick-to-condemn style, then this would just be one of those sad and unfortunate additional instances. But that is not the way it usually is.
Now they cannot assign blame to the Temple Mount, to East Jerusalem, or to Judea and Samaria. The general media—always quick to formulate how Israel is responsible for attracting her own problems—must come clean and tell it precisely the way it is. For the violent haters of anything Jewish, there is no distinguishing between different types of Jews or where they reside. It is fundamentally intellectually dishonest to make any other types of calculations.
So instead of taking on this issue—almost a week after the massacre—there is mostly silence. No, they were not building playgrounds for their children in Shiloh or traversing the Har HaBayit. In some corrupted form of reality, the exercise of those fundamental rights has been twisted into alleged violations of international law and a form of agitation in the direction of an enemy that really does not need any agitating.
They were men of silence going about their business and the beautiful lives they had crafted for their families and themselves in a most dignified and unassuming way.
Last Friday, a letter signed by the four new widows in Har Nof was circulated. They were courageously reaching out and, through their pain, faithfully as well as desperately trying to grasp what had happened to their husbands, to their families, to them.
The letter said: “Let us accept upon ourselves to increase love and friendship among each other, including members of other communities and different types of Yidden.
“We request that every person should accept upon themselves this erev Shabbos (Parashas Toldos, erev rosh chodesh), to sanctify Shabbos as a day of ahavas chinam, accepting and loving every Jew without reason. Let this Shabbos be a day without strife, arguments, and free of lashon ha’ra.
“This is what will be an ilui neshamah for the souls of the leaders of our family that gave their life for the name of Hashem.”
As the days go by, the shock inevitably synthesizes its way into our systems. Like the three teens who were murdered while hitching a ride home from yeshiva this summer, the three-month-old baby killed a few weeks ago in her stroller while exiting the Jerusalem light rail with her mother, the young seminary girl who was about to complete her conversion to Judaism, and the Nachal Hareidi soldier stabbed to death in Tel Aviv, they all become part of the struggle that is the history of Israel and the Jewish people. And unfortunately there were many more before them who made that difficult sacrifice.
But who were these people and how did the fact that they lived, and now have passed on, change the lives of their families, their friends, and neighbors? It’s troubling that as far as the mainstream media is concerned, they seem to be little more than a tragic statistic. They were murdered in a sadistic fashion, people who were supremely innocent, but there is nothing to write or say about them.
So just look at their faces in the few photographs that are in circulation. Just look at those faces and how they shine and the piercing, yet gentle, look in each of the victims’ eyes.
There is R’ Moshe Twersky, a scion of an illustrious rabbinic family. People who have written about him these last few days talk about his kindness and the guidance he provided so generously to those seeking his counsel. Everything about him was about the goodness he exuded and gladly dispensed.
Much has also been written over the last week about Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky. I gathered and read little bits and pieces about who he was. He was tall and strong, patient and giving. According to some who escaped the carnage but saw Aryeh in action, he saved their lives. Those on the scene and under attack in the shul have observed that aside from fighting the terrorists with shtenders and chairs, he picked up a large rectangular table to shield others in the shul from the terror onslaught. “You run, I’ll fight!” he was heard to be shouting.
The Kupinsky family lost a 13-year-old child, Chaya, two years ago, and those who know the family have said that they were heartbroken but a model of emunah in dealing with the mysterious fate that had befallen them. For two years, a friend wrote on a Har Nof blog, the family was unable to take their Friday-night meals at home. It was too painful for them to sit at their Shabbos table without their daughter.
In her memory, Aryeh set up a freezer gemach and over the last year or more insisted on delivering each freezer to each home by himself. A friend asked him why he insisted on lugging freezers up to people’s homes, sometimes on the top floor of a six-story walk-up. “This is my chesed,” he was heard to say.
About Rabbi Kalman Levine, by just looking in his eyes in a grainy newsprint picture, you can ascertain that all this man was about was goodness and joy. It’s been said that people came to this particular shul in Har Nof on Simchas Torah just to watch Kalman dance. At weddings, he was often the main attraction at the simcha.
You can see on his face that Rabbi Avraham Goldberg was a British-born gentleman. His dedication to the community in which he lived and worked knew no limits. He was an educational consultant to chareidi schools and a man who kept a strict schedule of studying Torah before daybreak and then davening every day with the first minyan, at sunrise.
The shock and the sadness still know no limits, and as far as the media is concerned it looks like the silence does not know any limits either. That might be because, unlike the other attacks, this was not just a terror attack, but rather an old-style pogrom.
There has been talk for ages about the Palestinian agenda of destroying Israel and murdering Jews. This latest event is illustrative of that reality. It’s difficult to deal with. There is no way to explain it even when seeking to employ the most contorted politically correct way of thinking. So the newspapers, magazines, and TV news here in the U.S. remain silent.
The Jewish community last week lost four distinguished scholars. That their families were sitting shivah for them as we turned the pages to Parashas Vayetzei is no coincidence. At the very outset, the Torah portion speaks about Yaakov leaving. The famous question is why the parashah indicated that Yaakov left Beer Sheva to go to Charan. Why not simply state at the outset that Yaakov went to Charan? On this matter, Rashi explains that the sentence structure teaches us that the departure of a righteous man from any place makes an impression. And that is because, Rashi explains, during the time that the tzaddik is in the city, “he constitutes its glory, he is its splendor, he is its crown; but when he leaves, the glory, splendor, and crown depart with him.”
Media coverage of last week’s murders in Har Nof cannot communicate these ideas. So the journalists are quiet about these men while the community silently mourns.
Comments for Larry Gordon are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.