6:58 am, November 18, a text: “Just want you to know there was a terrorist attack in Har Nof…They’re reporting four people dead; shooting and stabbing. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”
Still half asleep but jolted by this message, I immediately opened Facebook only to confirm that this news from my most reliable Israeli source, was true. After all of the attacks that have been piling up lately, I thought I was immune. But we never really know how affected we will be until the hit is this close to home. My school is on the same block as the minyan where this horrific act of evil took place. The school where I spent 10 months of my life — 8:30 am – 5:30 pm (or 4:00 when I got antsy). The school that enabled me to be a smarter Jew. That taught me how to read Rashi script and some outrageous halachas that changed me. The school where many of my friends and beloved rebbetzins continue to live and learn each day. The location is all too familiar to me, and the events of earlier today are not okay.
I have been struggling all day. I’m scared for the future of Har Nof, which was a place that was known to be a safe haven for Orthodox Jews, especially those in seminary and yeshiva, in Israel. I’m scared for what is next for Klal Yisroel; I mean how many more of us will die before Moshiach will come to put an end to this? This may not be called an infitada, but there is something going on in the world. Like many others, I have seen and felt a change in the air. The hostility and uneasiness lurk over our heads, and we are now experiencing a time that is, unfortunately, like the beginning of many dark times we, as a Jewish nation, have experienced before. Without the support of any other nation, especially the lack of support from the American government, is disconcerting, but not surprising.
I have found that the only comfort I can find is through the book of Tehillim (Psalms). The poetic words of David HaMelech about protection and guidance from H-shem resonate with me. And while I may have a glimmer of the thought, “Where is He?”, I snap back to reality and remember that He is always with us, no matter how dark and destitute the day may seem. I mean, the hasgacha of today is unbelievable. A rebbetzin from my school shared with me that her husband normally davens with this minyan; however, today decided to daven at sunrise in order to help their son get ready for school. It also happens that two of the rabbaim who were killed do not normally daven with this minyan. As precise as everything was, it is clear that “this, too, was orchestrated from Above.”
I can’t even pretend that I know what the families of the fallen feel like. I don’t know what it’s like to tell 26 children their abbas and tatties will never come home. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in Har Nof right now. But I do know that I called Har Nof my home, and when something like this happens on your turf, it strikes a chord that feels different than most. While it may be that I can’t do anything to directly stop this terror, I can help through the power of tefilah (prayer). We can all help by learning Torah. At the end of the day, G-d makes the waves crash and lightening strike. It is us who must cry out to Him not only in this time of hardship, but constantly, in order for this mayhem to cease. No one may ever have an answer for why we are being put through tragedy after tragedy, but the answer I know that is a constant is that H-shem loves me; he loves us, and through the strength of each other, our belief in H-shem, and the help of our Creator, we can get through this; we can get through anything.
Obviously, no words can do justice to what happened today, but it is my hope that my words can bring some sort of comfort to those in similar situations to mine. My heart and prayers are with the families of the injured and the fallen. The injured should all be blessed with a refuah sheleimah, and the families of the fallen should be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. May we see the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days, when the world knows these tragedies no more.