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Impressions: 30 Days Before

Yehudah Rosset

Forty years after the murder of Yosef Dov Weissman Hy”d, family and friends are still amazed that he wrote a will after envisioning his own death

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

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"S ometimes a person is privileged to get a distinct feeling that he is going to die, so that he can do teshuvah out of fear of Hashem.… I know that in the near future I will be standing before the Heavenly Court.” Forty years after the murder of Yosef Dov Weissman Hy”d by a terrorist on a bus with a suicide belt, family and friends are still amazed that he wrote a will after envisioning his own death

Back in February of 1978, Tzvi Laufer was a newly married man, fresh out of Yeshivas Chevron and living in his own homey, comfortable apartment in Jerusalem’s Sanhedria neighborhood. He was happy to host his longtime friend who was still in yeshivah, a 23-year-old bochur named Yosef Dov Weissman, considered the illui of the yeshivah as well as a nonstop chesed machine — the two had shared many milestones as they went through life together, and now Laufer wanted to include his old friend in his new good fortune.

A Kitzur Shulchan Aruch resting on the table caught Weissman’s attention, and he began to leaf through it as they spoke. As he flipped pages, a paper filled with small yet neat writing fell out. Weissman scanned the paper for a moment and then gasped. “What is this?” he cried to Laufer, who waved it off. “Oh, that. It’s the nusach of Vidui,” Laufer replied casually. “I need it because I’ve started visiting hospitals — I go to terminal patients who are on their deathbeds.”

Laufer didn’t attribute much importance to the paper and the Vidui and tried to change the subject. But Weissman had no intention of moving on. He took the paper again, and began reading the nusach with great interest. Silence hung in the air for several minutes, and then Weissman seemed agitated, in a sudden hurry to leave. He thanked his host, and was soon out the door. From there he went to the nearby bus stop and got on the number 35 bus, which began its route in Ramot and would take him in the direction of Givat Mordechai and his yeshivah.

But Yosef Dov couldn’t take the noise generated by a group of raucous street kids, and so he moved through the packed bus all the way to the back — never fathoming how he’d just sealed his fate. As the bus turned onto Tzefaniah Street, there was a deafening explosion: An Arab terrorist sitting in the back row with an explosives belt strapped to his waist blew himself up — injuring 45 and killing two. One was a 42-year-old father of seven named Kasriel Blumenfeld; the other was Yosef Dov Weissman. They would be among the first korbanos of a 40-year- long string of suicide bombers that would take the lives of thousands of Jews in Eretz Yisrael.

 

“It was 40 years ago, on 8 Adar 5738,” Laufer relates to Mishpacha. “One of the first suicide bombings. I was the last one to see Yosef Dov, but at the beginning I was so shocked that I didn’t realize the significance of the scene that had unfolded in my house just half an hour before. Only two days later, as I was on my way to Tel Aviv to pay a shivah call to his broken parents, I suddenly realized what happened: He said Vidui in my house! Imagine, his mazel sensed what was happening half an hour before he was killed, and Hashem granted him the privilege to recite Vidui.”

The wonder and shock still lace Laufer’s tone. Even today, 40 years later, he becomes agitated when reliving those memories. “It constantly inspires me to do teshuvah,” he explains, “but that’s only part of the story.…”

The rest would be filled in by Rabbi Yehudah Breitkopf, rav of the Chasdei Naftali shul in Har Nof, whose room was across from Yosef Dov’s in the Chevron dorm. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 701)

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