Our brothers, all the house of Israel, who are found in distress and captivity, whether they are on land or at sea, may G-d have mercy on them and remove them from distress to relief, from darkness to light, from suppression to redemption, now, speedily at a time that comes soon. Let us say amen.
So we sang while seated around the table for the third Shabbat meal. The sun was setting. Soon the three stars would appear and we would leave our oasis of time the Shabbat had brought. As it grew dark my anxiety for Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal, the kidnapped boys, and their families resurfaced. Along with my apprehensions my imagination went to work.
Perhaps the phone will ring as soon as Shabbat is over and someone will tell us the boys are home. Maybe we’ll turn our cell phones on and there’ll be a text message that there was a brilliant rescue operation and all is well. Possibly there will be joyful screaming in the street and we will know the nightmare of nine days is over.
My imaginations were not that out of line, really. Surely, the amount of prayers, good deeds, and fulfilling of HaShem’s commandments done the previous week in the boys’ merit had made their way to His Throne of Glory. Still, once Shabbat was over and my oldest son returned from synagogue and turned on his smart phone I learned that there had been no miracles. The boys were still in captivity.
My disappointment was hard to bear. I reminded myself that G-d’s time was not mine and then I remembered the shiva call I had made thirteen years ago. Anticipation of that visit to the house of mourning was one of the more difficult tests of my life. The mourners, a young couple, were in bereavement for their first-born son, at that time their only son.
He had not died of crib death. Nor had he been a sickly child. No, Baby Yehudah was a healthy, laughing five-month-old baby when the car he was travelling in with his parents was attacked. An Arab terrorist threw a cinder-block through the front windshield and Baby Yehudah’s skull was crushed. His mother gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until the ambulance arrived. Then he was rushed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. News of the attack rippled throughout the country and prayers were fervently said for the beloved infant. Even then-Prime Minister Sharon opened a book of psalms when he stood next to Yehudah’s crib.
For six days the country prayed and after six days Baby Yehudah’s precious soul was returned to its Maker. His funeral was heartbreaking. How in the world was I going to be able to say anything to comfort his parents? As is often the case I didn’t do any comforting. They comforted me.
With their words they painted a picture of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit full of Jewish babies and young children. One by one each of those flowers of our people were released. When Yehudah died there was not one Jewish youngster left in PICU. His parents were certain that all those prayers said in his merit had helped the other children there to get well.
Now we are in the eleventh day of missing Yaacov Naftali Ben Rachel Dvora, Gilad Michael Ben Bat Galim, Eyal Ben Iris Teshurah. I am certain that all of the prayers, good deeds, and fulfilling of HaShem’s commandments being done in the boys’ merit have made their way to The Throne of Glory. I pray HaShem will use them to return the boys home and bring complete comfort to their families and to all of us.