Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tzuk Eitan

Shavua tov v’shaket.

As Day 12 of Mivtza Tzuk Eitan (literally, “Operation Stalwart Cliff” – i.e. “Operation Protective Edge,” which is, in essence, an extension of Mivtza Shuvu Achim – Operation Brother’s Keeper – and also a desperately-needed response to the staggering 14 years (!!) that our dear brothers and sisters in the South have been under incessant attack) draws to a close, Israel mourns the loss of Dror Chanin HY”D, a civilian volunteer who was delivering food and care packages to IDF soldiers when he was killed in a Palestinian mortar attack along the Gaza border; Sergeant Eitan Barak Z”L, who was killed in combat during the first night of the ground invasion; and Sergeant Adar Barsano HY”D and Major Amotz Greenberg HY”D, who were killed by Hamas terrorists who had infiltrated Israel on Shabbat morning.

UPDATE (Sunday, July 20) – We also mourn the loss of Staff Sergeant Benaya Ruval HY”D, who was killed by a terrorist emerging from a tunnel in Gaza; and Second Lieutenant Bar Rahav HY”D, who was killed by an anti-tank missile in Gaza.

May all their memories be blessed, and may their families be comforted among the other mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

Meanwhile, thank you to the wonderful Our Shiputzim readers from around the world who’ve been asking how we’re doing here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog).

Mostly, like the rest of the country, our thoughts and prayers are with the IDF – the brave fathers, husbands, brothers, sisters, daughters, and sons (including, of course, OS - a veteran of last year’s Amud Anan), who are working around the clock to protect Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. May Hashem watch over and protect them, and may they all return home safe and sound.

The thing is that since that terrible day when Eyal Yifrach HY”D, Gil-Ad Sha’ar HY”D, and Naftali Fraenkel HY”D were brutally abducted and murdered in cold blood by our enemies, events have been moving at a dizzying speed.

Indeed, it seems as if every hour brings new developments, and there’s been no time to digest or understand any of them - let alone to write a coherent blog post about them.

With your permission, however, I would like to focus on two things:

1) First, the incredible revealed miracles and wonders that Am Yisrael has been privileged to witness.

For in spite of the devastating tragedy and trauma of recent weeks, words cannot begin to express our awe, amazement, and gratitude to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and His countless dedicated emissaries – including the IDF, the brilliant engineers who conceived and developed the Iron Dome, and many others – for all the goodness that He has bestowed and continues to bestow upon us.

2) Second, I don’t know if anyone has been listening, but many rabbis and community leaders have been [correctly, IMHO] exhorting Diaspora Jewry that NOW is actually the best time to make aliyah. As they explain, at this critical juncture, there is no better way to support Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael according to Torat Yisrael.

To the rabbis’ wise words, I would add that making aliyah TODAY also serves another important purpose.

Moving to our beautiful Land gives one a front row seat on Jewish history and allows one to play a major role in shaping Am Yisrael’s future.


May the coming week be filled with besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) for Am Yisrael.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Guest Post: The Horror of It All

Israel is in a state of shock today.

Shiputzim family friend Tzippi Sha-ked expressed what we’ve all been thinking and feeling, and she graciously allowed me to repost her essay (which originally appeared here) on this blog:


The Horror of It All…

by Tzippi Sha-ked

We are absolutely horrified that some young Jews could do something so heinous. The nation condemns their sick behavior.

This, however, remains an aberration, not a norm. Vigilante justice is extremely rare in Israel. The last time something like this happened was in 1994, when the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein took the law into his own hands.

Like all societies, we have our extremists, but we never let them control the majority. Unfortunately, the Muslim extremists control the silent majority which we hope want peace.

A brutal murder (of Muhammed) such as this, is so rare that when something like this happens we go into shock. As a nation, we gathered after the murders of the three boys - Eyal, Naftali, and Gil-Ad HY”D - and prayed and comforted one another. We did not take to the streets rioting.

Then the shock of all shocks. The unthinkable happened; and it was from our side. I can only say that the nation of Israel is not handing out candies in celebration; we are not raising three fingers in a sick victory signal. We have not incited our children in our textbooks to hate Muslims and to take the law into their own hands. Rather, we are horrified and are acting quickly to arrest and prosecute these mad young people and quell the violence.

In contradistinction to the actions of the Palestinian Authority, Israel will not name a street, a square, or a village after the perpetrators. The mothers will not be celebrating in their children’s honor. The families will not be awarded terrorist stipends, and the perpetrators will be tried accordingly under the democratic process.

There will be intense months of soul searching as we try to process this act. This has been the most horrific month here in Israel, and I fear that we are heading into a very trying period.

Today a couple of Muslims from Hevron visited the Fraenkel family. If we could guarantee our safety, many Jews would go and comfort this Muslim family in turn.

May peace reign over Yerushalayim in our time.


Amen, and thank you, Tzippi.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Oy, Meh Hayah Lanu!

Almost exactly 76 years ago, on June 29, 1938, Shlomo Ben-Yosef HY"D of Rosh Pina was hung by the British.

He was the first of the Olei HaGardom (also known as the Harugei HaMalchut) – the twelve Jewish men whom the British sentenced to death in the pre-State era.

In response, two days later, on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 5698, Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlap zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, wrote a letter of chizuk to his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson.

This afternoon, Rav Gidon Binyamin shlit”a, the Rav of Nof Ayalon, read an excerpt from that letter at the funeral of Naftali Fraenkel HY"D.

(An English translation follows below.)

א' דראש חודש תמוז תרח"צ

בני יקירי, ורעיתך היקרה, והילד היקר - ד' עמכם.

אמנם המחשבות סוערות מאוד מעליית לגרדום אחד מבני ישראל על לא דבר. לא הועילו כל ההפצרות, לא הועילו כל ההתחננות. גם כל חלונות השמים נסגרו. כל התפילות, השוועות, הזעקות, והתחינות לא בקעו את העננים.

אשרי לאיש הזה שעל ידו נתעוררו כל כך הרבה הרהורי תשובה. אשרי לו שעל ידו נתאחדו לנקודה אחת כל ישראל. אך אוי מה היה לנו, מדוע שתם תפילתנו, אבל ביטחוננו בו יתברך שמו כי ינקום נקמת דם עמו לעינינו, ובמהרה נראה בבנין ציון וירושלים, ובבנין בית מקדשנו וכו'.

אביכם המעתיר בעדכם ומברך אתכם,
יעקב משה

Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 5698

My dear son, your dear wife, and the dear child,

May Hashem be with you.

Indeed our thoughts are in great turmoil after one of Bnei Yisrael was sent to the gallows for no reason. All the entreaties were to no avail. All the supplications were to no avail. Even all the windows of Heaven were closed. All the prayers, the outcries, the shouts, and the pleadings did not pierce the clouds.

Fortunate is this man, who because of him, so many were roused to contemplate repentance. Fortunate is he, who because of him, all of Israel was united as one. But woe, what has befallen us! Why were our prayers unrequited? But our trust is in Him, blessed is His Name, that He will avenge His nation’s blood before our eyes, and we will speedily witness the rebuilding of Tzion and Yerushalayim and the rebuilding of our Beit HaMikdash, etc.

Your father who bestows abundance upon you and blesses you,
Yaakov Moshe

May we continue to relish the beautiful achdut (unity) of the past two and a half weeks; may the three bereaved families be consoled among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim; and may the memories of Eyal HY”D, Gil-Ad HY”D, and Naftali HY”D be blessed.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet

ברוך דיין האמת.

Blessed is the True Judge.

ה’ יקום דמם ויהי זכרם ברוך.

May Hashem avenge their blood, and may their memories be blessed.