Jews worldwide enter this Shabbat after a week of heinous violence aimed at the souls of all who seek holiness and peace. Moshe Twersky, Abraham Goldberg, Aryeh Kopinsky and Kalman Levine should be welcoming Shabbat with their families: instead their families mourn their murders – lives tragically cut short in a synagogue by terrorists disguised in a tallit (holy prayer shawl). This week also brings mourning to the family of Zidan Saif, the Druze police officer who bravely interceded to defend innocents only to be tragically killed in battle.
We utterly condemn these murders and the violent ideology that inspired them. There can be no justification to target innocents. There can be no justification to turn a house of worship into a killing field, or pervert ritual garments of peace into battle gear. This attack in a neighborhood house of worship also is an attack on all people of conscience, morality and faith.
As we hold the grieving families and all of Jerusalem in our hearts, we take up the call of the victims’ widows to respond not with anger but with love and gentleness. Among the greatest spiritual challenges is to mourn senseless violence without becoming bitter or brittle, to react with both earthly strength and an open-hearted compassion that rejects reactionary labels.
The widows of Har Nof have shown us how to be truly kadosh (holy) amidst unspeakable pain that no one should need to endure. Let no one betray their call or their husbands’ honor: let there be no retaliatory violence – not in anyone’s heart, not on anyone’s street, not in anyone’s home or house of worship. Let the families of the attackers, Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal, be secure and protected. Let this example of steadfast strength, standing firm without flinching or lashing out, be an example to the world that peace truly is possible.
This Shabbat and always, may the Psalmist’s words infuse all of us who love Israel and seek her peace (Ps. 122:7-9):
יְהִי שָׁלוֹם בְּחֵילֵךְ שַׁלְוָה בְּאַרְמְנוֹתָיִךְ:
לְמַעַן־אַחַי וְרֵעָי אֲדַבְּרָה־נָּא שָׁלוֹם בָּךְ: