Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It Really is Closer to Home: Corporal Yontatan Yahalomi

Netanel Yahalomi a"h with his father
By now everyone across the Jewish world knows about the heroic efforts of Private (now Corporal) Netanel Yahalomi, and his murder at the hands of terrorists attempting to infiltrate the border with Israel. Yet, people from Israel always said that here it seems much closer to home. I'm getting a sense of what they mean.
Yesterday, I was happy to renew acquaintance at an Orot in-service day in Ariel with a new instructor, Rabbi Dr. Eli Kohn, who was my Shanah Bet Madrich during my second year at Sha'alvim. After catching up, I asked how thing were and he noted that in his yishuv - Nof Ayalon - things were quite tense, as Netanel's family lives in Nof Ayalon, meaning an unending river of visitors to the normally sleepy yishuv.
From Ariel, I drove to my son's yeshiva in Mizpeh Yericho for a father-son learning program. When his Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Sabato, began his talk, after noting his acts of bravery in battle before he fell, he mentioned that Netanel had graduated from the yeshiva two years prior, and that after he was killed, they found on his body a Chumash Dvarim, a siddur, and a copy of Orot HaTeshuvah (a book by Rav Kook on Teshuvah).
Sitting in that Beit Midrash next to my son, among hundreds of other fathers and sons, I suddenly felt a sense of identity. This wasn't them, there. This was one of our children; he studied at my son's yeshiva. Interestingly, I wasn't filled with thoughts of fear or anxiety for my own children. I hope that as Netanel did, they too will feel a sense of pride and a desire to fulfill the mitzvah to protect the Jewish people, and pray that God protect the young men (including my nephew) and women who man those borders protecting the people of Israel from harm.
I will close with the two, distinct prayers offered by Rav Sabato about Yonatan:
תהא נשמתו צרורה בצרור החיים - May his soul be bound up in a bond of eternal life.
ה' ינקום דמו - "May God avenge his blood."

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