More than forty years have passed and I can still subconsciously hear my shriek of pain as I spilled hot oil down the front of my body. I still remember my fears of scars, my impatience of being bedridden, my slow recovery, and finally the incessant itching as the burns healed. For they did heal, leaving me with only one hidden scar the size of a fingernail. My burns, unlike those of Ayala Shapria, were only second-degree burns and not near any vital organs.
|The Shapira family car following the attack: Team Tzachi Shomron First Response|
Ayala, an eleven-year-old little girl, was riding in her family car last week when it was attacked with firebombs. Her father was "lightly" injured and she now lies in the pediatric intensive care unit with third-degree burns. Unlike me, she has no worries or impatience since, according to the news, she is in a medically induced coma. Doctors reported everything was being done to save her life. Unfortunately, I have no idea of how she’s progressing because, four days after the terror attack, Ayala’s name has essentially disappeared from most of the Israeli media.
Even when the terror attack was fresh I doubt that it was reported in the mainstream, international news. As my neighbor pointed out, the supposed firebombing of an Arab mosque by Jews in November received far more coverage and indignation. When it turned out that the mosque had not been firebombed at all, but was rather burned from a malfunctioning heater, there was little retraction from the world press.
It pains me as I realize over and over the indifference to Jewish bloodshed. Then I am reminded of a quote from Chaya Levine, bereaved widow of Rabbi Kalman Zeev Levine, h’yd, murdered in the Har Nof synagogue. Following any terror attack, Rabbi Levine would impress on his children that the attacks were not about politics or about Arabs. The attacks, he would tell them, were about them and the responsibility they had to improve themselves.
Indeed, it was Arabs who threw the firebombs that so badly injured Ayala, but why did HaShem allow them to hit a precious Jewish child? Is there a message that we are supposed to be receiving? I don’t think I need to be a prophet to state that HaShem wants to see His children getting along.
Nothing in life is coincidence, including the fact that Ayala was attacked the day before Shabbat Vayigash, the Shabbat when we read in the Torah about the coming together of Yosef and his brothers. Although it’s heartwarming to read of Yosef forgiving them, there’s also sadness in the Torah portion. At the same time Yaacov is reunited with his beloved son, Yosef, he and all his family go down to Egypt and the first exile is begun. Before he goes down, though, HaShem comes to him in a vision and promises I will go down with you to Egypt and I will also bring you up. (Exodus, Chapter 46, verse 4)
One week following the terror attack that so badly injured young Ayala, Jews the world over will be marking the fast of the tenth of Tevet. This fast commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; the siege led to destruction of the Holy Temple and the seventy year Babylonian Exile. Our rabbis have also decreed the tenth of Tevet to be the day of remembrance for all the martyrs of the Holocaust, many burned in the ovens of Europe, whose dates of death are unknown.
Although many of the Holocaust survivors are no longer among the living, when my children were young it was not uncommon to meet older Israelis with blue numbers tattooed on their arms. My youngest son was just three when we sat next to one such woman on the bus. She was warm, friendly, and eager to share some of her memories of the camps with us. She wasn’t dressed as an observant woman but her words proved to us that she was a believing one.
Even at the worst times I knew that HaShem was with me there.
The promise HaShem made to Yaacov followed his children even into the hell of Auschwitz. I am sure that He’s now with Ayala in her ICU bed. Please pray for Ayala Bat Rut.
While you’re praying, please pray that we will finally make peace with one another as Yosef and his brothers did. Please pray that we truly become one people and the hatred against us will end.