In our tradition, we “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” We call forth visions of a time, as we pray, when broken things will be made whole, when strife will cease, when the world will be at peace. We imagine an idealized Jerusalem whose streets are filled with the celebration of brides and grooms and the shouts of children at play. We have seen those streets filled will joy and celebration time and again since the founding of the modern nation of Israel. Yet, the reality that we see before us today is not that Jerusalem, but one filled with darker emotions and too often mourning.
Rav Joseph Soloveitchik said that:
The student of Torah is like the amnesia victim who tries to reconstruct from fragments the beautiful world he once experienced.
We have experienced a taste of Messianic Era Jerusalem: joyous celebrations of life in the Western Wall Plaza, the walls of Old City lit up with colorful lights by the Jaffa Gate, crowded streets filled with people from around the world, of all races, of all faiths, living together. Prayers and songs offered in innumerable languages have risen to the heavens each day, advancing hope for the coming of that day. We long to reconstruct that Jerusalem from memory or to construct it from visions.
Today, we would like to forget for a while, to let go. If only we could remove from our minds the visions of brutality and hatred, blood stained prayers for peace, the sounds of gunfire and the ensuing screams of agony and pain from the families of teachers of Torah, who were viciously torn from the world as they prayed for the reconstruction of its beauty. Would that we could forget their deaths and all of the anger and hatred. If only we could will amnesia upon ourselves.
But for now, let us remember those who perished literally Kidush Hashem, as they sanctified God’s name, in the midst of offering T’filah this morning in Har Nof, only few kilometers north of Yad Vashem:
Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky.
Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg.
Rabbi Kalman Levine.
Rabbi Moshe Twersky, grandson of Rav Joseph Soloveitchik.
May we also remember a hero, Officer Zidan Saif of the Druze village of Yanuh-Jat, the first police officer on the scene of the attack, who died this afternoon from injuries suffered this morning.
May their names be remembered for a blessing.