The Yeshiva Attack

When I attended Tuesday morning minyan (our prayer service) I was told about a horrific shooting at the Torat Moshe Yeshiva in Har Nof. Two Palestinian cousins, using meat cleavers and a gun, stormed the yeshiva and killed 4 people, including the Rosh Kollel (Head of the Yeshiva). 3 of the 4 were dual citizens with America. We said Psalm 130 at the end of services in solidarity with Israel.

This attack brought two images to my mind. First, the fact that I have been able to pray to God every morning at services without fear of an attack. I cannot imagine being in the middle of a prayer to God, in a state of great fervor and vulnerability, and all of a sudden being attacked by a terrorist. Secondly, it reminded me of when I attended a Heritage Retreats program in Santa Barbara, California, for which the unstated goal was to get participants to sign up for a year of yeshiva in Har Nof. While the yeshiva they wanted us to attend was Machon Shlomo, it made me think about what if I had decided to study in yeshiva and there was a terrorist attack down the street? What would have been my reaction to hearing the sound of the gun or people being butchered to death? How would I have reacted hearing that talleism (prayer shawls) were covered in blood?

The brutality of attacking when people are praying to God also reminded me of the attacks of the Yom Kippur War. For some reason, our holy moments of prayer, when we are not focused on this world but rather on our relationship with God, become used against us as a source of vulnerability. It reminds me of Amalek, attacking our ancestors when they were offguard, unprepared. Not only is it cowardly, but more importantly it is barbaric and sickening. I pray for better times in Israel but also that Israel (in the words of Warren Kozak, who I heard last night), sends “a strong response.” To not do so will (unfortunately, in my opinion) show our enemies that they have a green light for future terrorist attacks.

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