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In memory of those murdered in Elad

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

We are accustomed to transitioning from the sadness of Memorial Day to the joy of Independence Day, but how do we transition in the opposite direction, from independence to mourning?

I read this week's Torah portion after hearing about the three victims murdered in a horrible terrorist attack in Elad, and two main subjects stood out:

The parasha begins with instructions to the Kohanim not to defile themselves by escorting or having any contact with the dead. A Kohen is a teacher, a religious man, a spiritual guide, and thus symbolizes the complete opposite of death. He hallows life and cannot allow himself to sanctify death.

But now, thousands of years later, we are witness to leaders who, in the name of religion, sanctify death, and call upon their followers to take axes and knives to murder the innocent. They truly believe that whoever murders and is killed in the process is a holy martyr (shaheed). Before committing murder, they shout "Allahu akhbar" (God is great). Never was there such a distorted and perverse way of thinking.

The second major subject of the parasha is our holidays. There are detailed descriptions of Pesach, Sukkot, Shavuot, Yom Kippur, and Shabbat - a succession of joyful occasions that are full of inspiring content. Because the significance of a holiday is expressed in song and prayer, at family gatherings and festive meals, in a pilgrimage to Jersuaelm for a holy celebration.

But again, thousands of years after God's elevation of the holiday concept, our enemies come to desecrate it just as they desecrate the concept of life itself. This is incomprehensible to us, but on their holidays, we need to be especailly vigilant regarding terror on the part of "believers" with a lust for blood. Thousands of our security personnel are dispatched to the streets of our cities during this month because "they're celebrating their holiday now."

May we merit to elevate the souls of the murdered, to clearly distinguish between light and darkenss, to strengthen our connection with spiritual leaders and with Shabbat and with our holidays - all of which supplement life.

And may we hear only good news. Shabbat shalom.


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