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In their memory

הנרצחים בפיגוע

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Doris Yahbas, a mother of three, was murdered yesterday in the Beersheba terrorist attack. Her Facebook profile picture is of her next to her husband along with the words "Am Yisrael chai" (the nation of Israel lives), that she added to the photo.

Rabbi Moshe Kravitsky, father of four, managed Chabad's soup kitchen in Beersheba. He was riding his bicycle when the terrorist murdered him. We are continuously praying for the welfare of Chabad emissaries in Ukraine and yet here, in the Land of Israel, a Chabad emissary in Beersheba is murdered in broad daylight.

Lora Yitzchak, a mother of three girls, had just finished work and was supposed to meet her husband to do errands. Lora was the sister of a police officer who was called to the scene of the attack. On his way there, he learned what had happened to his sister.

Menachem Yechezkel, the fourth murdered victim, whose details were delayed for later publication, was also an entire and unique world unto himself.

Initially I thought that the clearest connection between the horrible attack and this week's Torah portion was, of course, the death of the two sons of Aharon HaKohen. After they pass away in the parasha, the Torah speaks of the general sadness and public mourning that ensued: "And let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord has wrought."

But immediately afterwards, the parasha demands from us something which is perhaps more important and relevant regarding everything that happened yesterday: the necessity to make distinctions. The parasha first introduces this principle in relation to proper as opposed to improper conduct of the Kohanim in their sacrificial service. "You must distinguish between the sacred and the profane, between the unclean and the clean."

Here, too, such a distinction is in order. On the one hand, there is a Bedouin citizen of Israel who had supported ISIS and spent time in prison. Upon his release, he was employed as a teacher, free to murder four innocents. On the other hand, there is the Israeli hero who neutralized the terrorist, saved lives, and yet was not immediately recognized for his courageous act by the police.

The necessity to make distinctions is on full display in the laws of kashrut where the parasha describes in detail which animals may be eaten and which may not be eaten. The Torah utilizes negative terms in defining certain animals as unclean, disgusting, abominable, and invalid. In contrast, animals that may be eaten are good and proper and clean.

However, it is not only on our plate that we must make distinctions, but in the world at large. There are enemies and there are friends, there are lies and there is truth. There is good and there is evil. "To distinguish" returns in the last verse of the parasha: "To distinguish between the unclean and the clean." May we learn to distinguish and make appropriate distinctions wherever necessary.

In their memory.


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