To our dear friends in our wonderful community,
I write to you from Eretz Yisrael to thank you for all the beautiful wishes that we have received from so many of you as we celebrated the marriage of our son, Gavriel this week. I hope that we replied to each message personally, because each one brought us simcha and chizzuk. We are blessed to be part of a community which supports us in good times and challenging ones. Our week has been filled with such extreme emotions. We have experienced darkness and light and at times, a combination of the two. Please let me share with you some thoughts during these difficult and tragic times.
Over the past few months we have made many plans for our wedding. We chose a venue, we chose a menu, we decided what music would be played and what we would all wear. We made arrangements for where our guests would stay, and we created a seating plan. We booked flights and organised accommodation for our children and grandchildren.
Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined that on the Shabbos before my son’s wedding I would be sheltering in a מקלט (safe room) before running to shul to hear his aliya.
Never would I have imagined that the day before my son’s wedding, Yossi and myself and our children and grandchildren would be crowded into the bomb shelter, singing המקום ירחם (God will have mercy) with more feeling than ever before.
Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined standing under my son’s chuppa with bombs exploding in the distance and warplanes flying overhead.
Or that from under the chuppa, I would see a dear guest among the crowd, who had made such a special effort to join us from yerushalayim and give us chizzuk, and then attend his levaya the very next morning.
Or that our kallah would stand under the chuppa in tears because her dear brother was absent as he was called up to protect his people and his land.
Never would I have imagined that at my son’s hastily replanned first sheva brochos, a young woman who had spent simchas torah in a bomb shelter in Sderot hiding from wicked savages who sought to torture and kill her, would use the opportunity to bentch Gomel. Or that at that same sheva brochos, we would be welcoming the hatan and kallah singing Od Yishoma whilst a few doors away, the levaya was taking place of a young chayal who had given his life to protect his people and his land. Or that the next Sheva Brochos would be cancelled because too many of the hosts and their family had been called up to duty.
And now, as I watch our carefully laid plans float away, I feel Hashem take my hand and lead me exactly where I need to be. I make no plans because Hashem, my dear Father, is embracing me, protecting me and guiding me along the best path for me.
When we arrived in Eretz Yisrael before Succos, our people were being torn apart. There were deep rifts among our people, with different factions believing that only they were right. There was hatred, aggression and even violence amongst us. On simchas torah, the hatred disappeared. I watched an outpouring of love as men and women from all those different factions protected each other, supported each other, and stormed the heavens for mercy for each other. And I heard Hashem cry and say, look my beloved children, now you remember you are brothers and sisters, now you remember your love and respect for each other. Why do I need to bring such a tragedy to remind you?
At our wedding there were men in black hats and black velvet kipot , knitted kipot, big kipot and small ones and some with none at all. There were women in all types of dress and from all sorts of backgrounds, but those differences no longer mattered. There was love and respect and achdus. We were כאיש אחד בלב אחד (as one man with one heart), each one striving in his own way to bring joy to the chosson and kalla, and davening for peace for our people and our land.
I write this to you, my dear friend, to beg that we all listen to these messages that Hashem is sending us so loudly. Forget our differences. What binds us together is so much greater that what divides us. And in that zechus, may Hashem bring a swift end to the pain and suffering of His beloved children and send Moshiach soon in our days, amen.
Click here to read a bracha from mother of the bride in Hebrew.