AMERICAN FRIENDS
OF ATERET COHANIM

Making the old city young again

 
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Dearest Fogel Children
a letter from Yechiel Spero

Dearest Fogel children,

            You do not know me. But I am your brother.
 
            I, along with the rest of the world read with horror about the inconceivable attack on your family and the brutal murder of your parents and siblings. I read about your parents, Udi and Ruti, idealistic and loving parents, baalei bitachon, who left their home in Gush Katif a short 5 years ago and rebuilt your lives with unimaginable faith.
 
            I saw the horrific images and wonder how it can be, one week before the Yom Tov of Purim, one in which we celebrate our salvation, me’eivel le’yom tov/from mourning to jubilation that your lives can be shattered and be transformed into yom tov le’eivel. From the joy and delight of playing together and singing and laughing as a family into one of unspeakable eivel/mourning, the horror which no words can describe. We wonder how Purim can turn into a Tisha ba’Av.
 
            Wasn’t it only last week when the family was laughing and singing about your father, “Udi udi chamudi/my precious Udi”, a popular children’s song in Eretz Yisroel? How could it all have changed?
 
Who can begin to imagine, Tamar, a 12 year old girl, walking into her home on a leil Shabbos and seeing what you saw? Who can bear to hear the cry of Yishai, a two year old child crying at his father’s bed, “Abba! Abba! Kum/get up!” when he will only now arise when there is techiyas hameisim?
            Oy….and precious little Hadas….
            Three months old…
 
            We wish we had answers. We wish we could hold you tight and wipe the tears away from your beautiful little faces and kiss you and assure you that it was all just a horrible nightmare…we wish we could…
 
            The only words of solace I can find for you are in the very megilah which we will read a few short days from now. “U’vemos aviha ve’imah lekacha Mordechai lo le’vas. With the death of her mother and her father, Mordechai took Esther to be his daughter.
 
            Indeed, Esther was a yesomah, an orphan of the highest degree. Chazal tell us that she lost her father as her mother became pregnant and she lost her mother during childbirth. She was born and she had no one! Nothing!
She was completely and utterly alone.
 
But the Sifsei Chachamim informs us that it was specifically Esther who was chosen to be the one who brings salvation to the Jewish people. Why? Because the greater the tragedy one endures, the greater the salvation which can come from it.
 
The world has a pithy saying, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” We Yidden have a more powerful axiom, “The harder you fall, the bigger you’ll be!”
And this is why Hashem chose Esther.
 
Tamar, Ro’i and Yishai, Klal Yisroel stands with you; you are not alone. I heard about Rami Levy, a fellow who owns a supermarket, who came by every day of shivah to stock the refrigerator and shelves with food for the mourners and those who came to be menachem avel. When one of the relatives thanked him, he replied, “Get used to seeing me; I have made a commitment to bring food to this home every week until Yishai turns eighteen year old.”
 
No, you are not alone.
 
But more importantly, history teaches us that Esther, completely alone, became not only the queen but also the savior for the Jewish nation.
You will rise once more. You will bring great nachas to your parents who will watch you with great pride in heaven and you will overcome insurmountable odds to become oh so special.
 
Our hearts are broken for you. Klal Yisroel cries for you, with you.
But there is hope.
 
On Taanis Esther we will read, “Tachas ha’naatzutz yaaleh verosh, vesachas hasirpad yaaleh hadas/In place of the thornbush, a cypress will rise; and in place of the nettle, a myrtle will rise.”
 
Hadas, your precious little sister, with her innocence and purity, is mentioned in this possuk. She shares the name of the heroine of Purim; as Esther had another name, Hadassah, rooted in the term hadas, a beautifully fragrant myrtle branch.
One day….
 
No more thorns. No more pain. No more senseless suffering.
You will be reunited with your parents, who died al kiddush Hashem. With your pure brothers, Yoav and Elad.
And with Hadas…
Until then, you are not alone.
You do not know me. But I am your brother.
Hamakom yenachem eschem….