It has been a devastating week and it is hard even to think of writing any good news. Added to that, this Shabbat is Shabbat Hazon, the saddest Shabbat of the year, preceding Tisha B’Av which falls on Tuesday. The atmosphere is heavy, sad, depressing despite the summer vacation which is taking place in the background.
So how can I think of bringing any good news today? I answer my own question by bringing two similar bittersweet stories this week.
The first story was posted by MK Yehuda Glick who attended a very special brit mila (circumcision) ceremony this week. Here is his Facebook post, followed by my English translation:
“What a holy people! How much pain and joy in one place.
Congratulations to Yitzchak David Pikar on entering the Covenant of our Forefather Abraham (the son of Ruchama Ames whose father and mother Yitzchak and Talia Ames were murdered on Har Hevron 7 years ago).
The person who recited the blessings and announced the baby’s name was Rabbi Ohad Tahar-Lev (whose son Elchai was murdered this year at Ofra Junction).
One of the phrases recited at a brit is ואומר לך בדמייך חיי, ואומר לך בדמייך חיי: “And I say to you: By your blood shall you live; And I say to you: By your blood shall you live“. (From Ezekiel 16:6).
There is hardly a more apt occasion to utter these words than this very special brit.
This gathering of bereaved Jews, who celebrated the birth of a new baby, represents the best of Israeli and Jewish society. Instead of sinking into despair, or calling for revenge, or even taking revenge, they struggled to pull themselves out of despondency. Just imagine – The baby’s mother was only 12 years old when her parents were murdered! Yet she has rebuilt her life wonderfully. They celebrated the birth of a new Jewish soul, another link in the eternal chain linking us from Abraham our Forefather, who lived over 4,000 years ago, to this very day.
It is humbling to see such spiritual greatness in the face of such devastating hardships. May they all continue to enjoy further celebrations and may they know no more sorrow. May they be comforted at the birth of baby Yitzchak, and of course Mazal Tov to all the families.
A very similar sweet but sad brit mila took place this week, one whose family we are not likely to forget just yet. Last Friday night, Yosef, Elad and Chaya Salomon were murdered by a Palestinian terrorist as they were celebrating the birth of a new grandson.
Yesterday that baby too had his brit mila. The family opened up the ceremony to the public, so that they should come and attend and thus pay respect to the victims who never got to participate in the joy.
Hundreds of people attended, and emotions were overflowing as the baby received his martyred grandfather’s name:
Hundreds of people gathered in a synagogue in central Israel Thursday for the circumcision ceremony of the son of Shmuel and Chen Salomon, whose three family members were brutally murdered in a terror attack in the Halamish settlement last week while celebrating the new baby’s birth.
Leading the ceremony in Elad was former chief rabbi of Israel Yisrael Meir Lau, who announced the boy’s name as Ari Yosef Salomon.
Through intermittent sobs, the new father Shmuel explained that while they had decided on the name Ari before the attack, it had gained new meaning after his family members fought like “lions” against the Palestinian terrorist last Friday night. The Hebrew word for lion originates from the same root as the boy’s name.
The child’s middle name was chosen to honor the baby’s grandfather, Yosef Salomon, killed in the attack.
Addressing a crowd so large that latecomers were forced to watch the ceremony on TV screens outside the synagogue, Shmuel Salomon said his family had chosen to open the event to the public “so that the Salomons would be remembered as joyous and special rather than sad and hurt.”
Among the hundreds present at the circumcision, or brit, was Halamish resident Yosef Rimmel, a longtime friend of the late Yosef Salomon.
“I sat behind him in synagogue, and Tova was the kindergarten teacher for four of my five kids,” he said.
Rimmel kept his composure throughout the ceremony. However, when the baby’s middle name was announced, the 57-year-old broke down.
“It’s difficult to comprehend how this could happen to such a good friend,” he said.
Zvi Lando, a cousin of Elad’s widow Michal flew in from New Jersey immediately after Shabbat.
“The rabbi at our synagogue spoke about the attack during services on Saturday morning, but we did not know it was them until after Shabbat ended,” he said.
Praising the strength of his newly widowed cousin, Lando pointed out that he’s “never once seen her without a smile on her face. The same could be said about Elad, who had cared so deeply about his kids,” he said.
While family members admitted that it was supposed to be a festive ceremony, longing seemed to be the overwhelming feeling in the Elad synagogue Thursday.
Here too, we wish Mazal Tov to the new baby, his parents and the bereaved Salomon family. He will never enjoy the embrace of his loving grandfather, or enjoy meeting his uncle and aunt. And yet the family managed to get up in the middle of the Shiva week to celebrate the continuation of the Jewish chain of history.
Our enemies have to learn that no matter how hard they try, they will never break that chain. With the help of the Almighty we are stronger than all of them, and we will overcome today’s hardships too.
As this Shabbat Hazon approaches, I pray that the coming week will herald in good news, and that Tisha B’Av will change from mourning to joy, that the Mashiach will arrive and rebuild our Bet Hamikdash, במהרה בימינו אמן.
Shabbat Shalom everyone.