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A Hail of Bullets Snuffed Out the Light

Sarah Pardes

A terrorist armed with an automatic weapon appeared out of nowhere, and standing at close range, pointed the barrel at Rav Raziel’s car

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

 Mishpacha image

“Raziel asked that if something were ever to happen to him, he should be buried in Chavat Gilad. We respect his wishes. I ask that whoever is able should come to the levayah,” his widow, Yael, said early that morning. Indeed, thousands came from all over the country. The ground of Chavat Gilad was wet with tears, masses weeping at the sight of six orphans (Photo: Flash90)

T uesday January 9, 8 p.m., Jith Junction in Shomron

At that hour, there were few cars on the mountainous stretch of Highway 60, which connects Netanya with the Shomron communities. Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, was concentrating intently on the road, tired at the end of a long day. He was returning from checking up on a baby whose bris he performed the previous day, stopped off to do some grocery shopping, and was on his way to the nightly shiur in his home community of Chavat Gilad.

Without warning, the sound of gunshots broke the thick silence all around. A terrorist armed with an automatic weapon appeared out of nowhere, and standing at close range, he pointed the barrel toward the driver’s seat of Rav Raziel’s car.

The forensics team later counted 22 bullets.

In the first few seconds, Raziel — father of six, ranging in ages from ten to eight months — was still conscious, and even managed to call his wife with a message: “I’ve been shot. Send an ambulance.”

“He took life seriously, constantly thinking how he could fill his time in the best way possible,” Dr. Koby says. “In addition to Torah study, which took a central role in his life, he was always looking for ways to benefit his family, his friends in the community, and basically, anyone who needed help”

“I was driving in the opposite direction when it happened,” relates MK Betzalel Smotrich of the Bayit Yehudi party, who lives in Kedumim. “At the side of the road, we saw a car riddled with bullet holes. I understood that it was a terror attack, and together with another driver who stopped nearby, we removed the victim from the car, although neither of us was trained in first aid and there wasn’t much we could do until the ambulance arrived, even though it was just a few seconds later.”

Evaluating the situation, a military ICU ambulance arrived and evacuated Raziel to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba. At the beginning of the journey he was still conscious, but his situation soon deteriorated — the attending medics lost his pulse. He was whisked into the hospital’s trauma unit, but despite valiant efforts to save him, at 8:30 Rabbi Raziel Shevach Hy”d joined the thousands of other kedoshim who have died al kiddush Hashem in Eretz Yisrael.

On the way to the levayah, Dr. Raphael Koby, Rabbi Shevach’s father-in-law, tried to make sense of the shock and pain. “My daughter called me just minutes after he phoned her,” Dr. Koby remembers. “She told me he called her to say he was wounded, that she’d already summoned an ambulance, and that I — as both a physician and resident of Kfar Saba — should run to the hospital. I came just minutes after Raziel was brought into the trauma room, but they wouldn’t let me enter due to the state he was in. There was nothing to do but stand outside and daven — until they called us in so that we could part from him.”

Dr. Koby describes his son-in-law as an “ish ehkolot” — a multitalented rav held in very high esteem in the Shomron area, a towering talmid chacham who toiled in Torah, who studied and taught and did chesed, helping people in all sorts of ways.

“Before his marriage, Raziel volunteered with Kav L’Chaim, an organization that helps the sick and disabled. Later, he studied for the rabbinate and specialized in shechitah and milah, while both learning and teaching at the Ro’eh Yisrael yeshivah in Yitzhar. He was studying to become a dayan, and often he’d stay up all night learning, and sometimes he’d only return home at the end of the week,” says Dr. Koby, for whom death isn’t foreign, yet who can’t believe he’s talking about his precious son-in-law in the past tense. “We had a lot of discussions about it over the years. He was a lot more chareidi and yerei Shamayim than I am, and although I didn’t always agree with him, he was my inspiration.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 694)

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