Many years ago, when my oldest son, now 28, was in his first year of high school, he woke up one morning only to hear that one of his teachers had been murdered the night before in a terrorist attack. He never forgot that teacher, and named his first son in his memory.
An hour ago my youngest son, now in his first year of high school, called us and said that one of the other boys in his class had just been notified that his father was killed in a terrorist attack near his home in the Shomron.
The terror victim, Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai, 45 years old, father of seven, had been a neighbor of my oldest son, when he lived in that community, Shavei Shomron.
It’s been quite some time since I experienced the sensations I presently feel, but as they return, so do the black memories of years of killing and bloodshed. It’s a horrible feeling, and it’s hard to shake the premonition that ‘it’s starting again.’ But if, as may very well happen, 1,000 terrorists are released for Gilad Shalit in the next few weeks, may G-d have mercy on all of us.
We’ve been through it before, after other terrorist swaps, and it is far from being pleasant. To the contrary, it’s a recipe for major warfare against Jews in Israel, be they in Tel Aviv, Hebron, or Haifa.
I work with many different kinds of groups, and spend hours answering questions about ‘human rights for palestinians’ in Hebron and other places in Israel. What my interrogators rarely discuss is the right of Israelis, of Jews, to live. To live, period! They tend to ignore the Arab terror, or equate it to graffiti, rock-throwing, or security measures implemented to protect Jewish lives, to prevent killing. But the right of Jews to simply live, to raise their families, to watch their kids get married, to play with their grandchildren, that is all mundane, of no significance or importance.
Yesterday a young woman, a Jewish woman from New York, tried to convince me of the supremacy of non-violence. Even someone attacked shouldn’t hit back – all the world’s problems can and should be dealt with and solved passively.
Tell that to my son’s classmate.
It’s difficult for me now even to write. Here I am, sitting at home, enjoying my children and my new grandchildren, knowing that a family has just been destroyed, that those seven kids won’t ever celebrate the joy of a birthday, Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a wedding or any other event, with their father; that this man, taken so abruptly and barbarically, will never have the ‘nachas’ the pleasure, of playing with his grandchildren – only because he was a Jew, living in his land, doing his best for his family, for his people, for his G-d.
I only hope that where he is now, he will stand before the L-rd, praying for his children and his widow, for his people, for his land, that they should be comforted. Meir means to radiate light, AvShalom, means the father of peace, Chai means life. This man radiated light, peace and life. He not only radiated – he taught, as does a Rabbi. Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai – a light extinguished, a peace violated, a life lost. So sad, so tragic, so unnecessary.
It is our job to ensure that his light is rekindled, that his life never forgotten and that the goals he set for himself, his family and his people, be fulfilled. And so we will. May his memory be a blessing, HaShem Yikom Damo – may G-d avenge his blood.