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7 years since Ari Weiss was killed

November 24, 2016 22:52

It seven years since Ari Weiss was killed in a gun battle between IDF soldiers and Palestinian terrorists in Nablus. He was 21. His death devastated the Ra'anana community. This afternoon, along with many other friends of Rabbi Stewart and Susie Weiss and their family, I attended a memorial ceremony for Ari at the local military cemetery.

Pnina Weiss, the oldest of Ari's five siblings, spoke very bravely and movingly about the continuing pain of losing her beloved brother. With her permission, I am reproducing her words here.

"Everyone I know has a lucky number. It’s the number they choose when filling out a lottery ticket and the number they bet on when playing roulette. My favorite number is 7. But today, as we commemorate 7 years since we have lost Ari, 7 doesn’t seem so lucky anymore. We just finished the 7 day chag of Sukkot and feasted on the 7 minim. In Judaism, the number 7 represents the natural order of things – based upon the fact that the world was created in 7 days. But today we are commemorating something which is not normal.

7 years since we saw your shining smile on Simchat Torah. We no longer enjoy the 7 Hakafot of dancing with the Torah like we did 7 years ago. 7 years worth of Yizkor – the few times each year I dread going to shul and watch everyone walk out as I remain inside to silently mourn. 7 years of hearing the 7 brachot said at your friends’ weddings – watching them get older and have babies, while you will always remain 21. 7 years of Chagim – where your chair at the table still remains empty. And the 7 ushpizin we welcome into the Sukkah, while all we are really thinking about is how we wish you were the one who would appear.

And although it has been 7 years, the pain remains fresh and the wounds in our hearts still have not healed. As time passes it only gets harder – you seem further and further away. I am scared of the day when I will no longer remember what your voice sounds like. That I will forget the silly way you danced and how you used to snap your fingers in a way none of us could.

I try to convince myself that G-d has his reasons for taking you away from us. And that you are in a better place – a world much more rewarding than the one we now live in. I remember back 7 years ago when you were killed – army representatives were explaining where you were being kept until the funeral. After they told us, I asked them at what point do they do Tahara on you. The general looked at me and said “we don’t do Tahara on him”. I was surprised and asked why - doesn’t every person go through the Tahara process before they are buried? They then told me that you were already Tahor – just like all chayalim – and there is no need to purify someone who is already pure. Those few words Ari, taught me that you are special – that Hashem has a need for people like you – that you are on a level above the rest of us. Those thoughts are carried with me until today, to help deal with the pain.

But there are also days that I cannot deal with the pain. Days that go by wondering why my Holocaust surviving grandparents had to witness the death of their Israeli chayal [soldier]grandson and why my parents, who gave up their whole life in America to live the Zionist dream – had to bury their son in the land in which they wanted him to flourish. I pity my younger siblings, who probably won’t remember Ari from their own memories, only from the stories which we share with them. And I feel bad for our new sister Rachel, who never got to know the brother she once had.

And although the number 7 will take on a new meaning to me this year – let me continue to convince myself that 7 can be good too. There have been 7 babies named after you since you left us and the eldest of which is celebrating his 7th birthday today. They say there are 7 levels of heaven – and I am sure that by now you have reached the highest one. And although the next 7 years will not be any easier the last – I miss you just the same and hope that you are watching from above, missing us too."

November 24, 2016 22:52

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