To All of Yisrael-
Today, Iyar 5 5777/May 1 2017, is Yom haZikaron, Israel Memorial Day. Its full title encapsulates all to whom this day is dedicated to:
יוֹם הזִּכָּרוֹן לַחֲלָלֵי מַעֲרָכוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל וּלְנִפְגְעֵי פְעוּלוֹת הָאֵיבָה
Yom Hazikaron l’Chalalei Ma’arachot Yisrael ul’Nifge’ei Pe’ulot Ha’eivah
“Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism”
We must forever hold onto the memories of the lost. We must look back, tragic as the past may be, and learn from their examples. We should take on something new, or strengthen ourselves in a mitzvah we perform, with the intent to bring elevation to all of their precious neshamas. We should light a candle on this day… and remember.
The soldiers… Your unwavering courage and mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice) to protect our precious Medinat Yisrael and its inhabitants, in the face of all adversity, and even in the harshest conditions, is stunning. You have, and always do, go above and beyond in all your efforts. It is like nothing else to see so many of you at once being sworn in to the league, binding yourselves to the mission. You knew what rigors lay ahead, and you may have been afraid, but you nevertheless faced the challenge, singing a song of hope, determined to play your role. You were willing to risk paying the ultimate price… and tragically, so many of you did.
“Ein omer v’ein devarim – There is no speech and there are no words” to fully express our overwhelming gratitude for what you’ve done, and for what you continue to do. Thank you for your protection while you fought, bearing your neshek even when it was a chance for you to slow down; and thank you as you still continue to watch over us, above and below.
The murdered civilians and victims of barbarity and terrorism… When we lost you to the consequences of the vile hatred and wrath, we lost family, friends, mentors, and so many vibrant and special neshamos.
What may perhaps be most incredible, for those of you who miraculously survived and recovered after you were injured, or a loved one of yours suffered the same or worse, chas v’shalom, is that you didn’t act like victims. You stood up, and continued to fight. “Ki sheva yipol tzadik vakam – A righteous man can fall seven times and rise (Mishlei/Provervbs 24:16)”. You didn’t melt into broken shadows, even in the face of your greatest pain and darkest nights.
You blazed the trail to living in Eretz Yisrael with pride, and you epitomized the perseverance that is the trademark of our people. You are fighters, much like our brave soldiers. Just by living in the Holy Land, clearly aware, but not caring about the darkness around, you lived as illuminating lights– you’re a statement to the world that “Am Yisrael Chai”– Israel, both the people and the land, are here to stay, and united together.
You never stopped loving, sharing strength and faith, teaching, working, guarding, learning, building home and family and Torah– and you still continue to do so, through your legacies, and in those who follow in your footsteps.
It is difficult for each of us to clearly envision every single face, but we will try our best, to remember every single life, every single legacy, every single person that was cut down. Hopefully, I pray, that we won’t ever neglect your memory– because every single one of you who was taken away, called home, is a profound loss. We are all connected by a single thread. A thread of unity. The thread of our Creator. That is why we feel such grief after losing you. We miss you greatly.
But your lives and legacies, paths and dreams, will be an eternal inspiration to us. You have taught us so much, about life, determination, and your fiery vision– one of hope, to never give up. Israel is our land, to guard and build and thrive in. Thank you for showing us the way.
We miss you, and we’ll never forget you. We love you so much.