By Chaim Gold
It was just two days after the massacre. The bullet holes were still visible in the windows, but on display was a most powerful example of the ideal of netzach Yisrael lo yeshaker—the eternal nature of Israel will never cease. Kehillas Bnei Torah of Har Nof, the same shul where the massacre had transpired two days earlier, hosted tens of avreichim taking their monthly Dirshu tests.
Hundreds of teary-eyed visitors could be seen everywhere. With broken hearts they came to look at the place where the four holy korbanos, the kedoshim of the Har Nof slaughter, met their deaths. Simultaneously, tens of Dirshu test-takers blocked out the commotion as they concentrated on the questions on the test.
Rabbi Shalom Yachnes, Dirshu’s representative in Har Nof and a resident of the neighborhood, related, “On the day of the test, I received many phone calls from local Dirshu test-takers asking if the test would be held at Kehillas Bnei Torah as it is every month. I answered yes.” Indeed, the kedoshim who were supremely dedicated to limud haTorah represented the ideal of mesirus nefesh for limud haTorah. Taking the test in the very place where they gave up their lives would be an appropriate display of the eternity of Torah and the eternity of Klal Yisrael in galus, despite the terrible trials and tribulations.
Rabbi Yisrael Cohen, Dirshu’s proctor at that testing site, had difficulty expressing the mixed emotions of the test-takers, all residents of the Har Nof community who were in some way connected with the kedoshim. “It was difficult to take the test. The room was quiet; you could only hear the scratching of pens on paper. All of us were thinking of the difficult sights that we had seen in this very shul merely two days ago. Blood, taleisim . . . nevertheless, we realized that we must continue our avodas ha’kodesh. We did not contemplate changing to a different testing site. On the contrary, taking the test in such close proximity to the horrible terror attack was a declaration that effectively said, yes, tragically, Eisav and Yishmael engaged in their mission, R’l; our response will be to engage in our mission! We will continue, with even greater alacrity, to learn, to chazer, to retain, to take tests, and, most of all, to continue toiling to understand the Torah ha’kedoshah!”