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In the Land of the Bereaved

Shlomi Gil

These are the sons who will never come home again, who will never smile to their siblings, consult with their fathers, or be nurtured by their mothers. How does a family deal with the gaping hole, the searing pain that makes the heart feel like it will shatter? Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau offered solace in the most painful moments of a parent’s life, reassuring them that when it’s time move on, “know that my door is always open to you.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It’s early Tuesday morning in Modiin, and Rabbi David Lau, chief rabbi of Israel, has just finished delivering his daily 6:15 shiur. All his other appointments and obligations have been canceled. His daily planner is devoted to a single task: a journey to the land of the bereaved. As these lines are being written, 43 IDF soldiers and officers have lost their lives in Operation Protective Edge, may Hashem avenge their blood. Hundreds more have been injured and are hospitalized around the country. Dozens of families have joined the grim circle of the bereaved as they mourn the untimely deaths of the young soldiers who gave their lives to defend the citizens of Israel. On this wrenching trip across the country, we’d meet mothers who will never see their young sons again. We’d see ordinarily restrained fathers trying helplessly to stop their tears. We’d come face to face with the terrible price tag that war carries. But we’d also be reminded of the rare character of the Jewish nation. One of the bereaved mothers put it very well. “Hamas will not break us,” she toldRavLau in a broken voice. “It’s true that it’s hard, and painful, and no one will bring back my child. But if they think they will break us, they simply do not know who they are dealing with. No one will break us.”

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