The horrific murder of 5 members of the Fogel family in Itamar on March 11th really upset me. The parents (Udi & Ruth) and 3 (Yoav, 11, Elad 4 and Hadas, 3 months) of their 5 children were butchered while they slept by a knife wielding terrorist (or terrorists, no one really knows yet). What kind of hatred must it take to knife anyone, even your enemy's children? What astounded me more was the response to the murder by the family that was left behind.
Tamar Fogel, the 12 year old who walked into her home to find her butchered family, has been a ray of light to Israel. She commented on the tragic situation, "I will be strong and succeed in overcoming this. I understand the task that stands before me, and I will be a mother to my siblings." Days later, in an interview on Channel 2, Tamar showed the same maturity and resolve, "They want to break us, they won't succeed".
Another family member who made extremely powerful comments was Tamar's grandfather, the late Ruth Fogel's father. Rabbi Yehuda Ben Yishai was questioned by Estie Perez on the Voice of Israel radion station, "Where do you have the strength and restraint that you can talk now and strengthen us, without anger and without calling for vengeance – that is not in your voice? Where is the strength from?" R' Ben Yishai's response was incredible, "I have worked in education many years, and as an educator, I try to strengthen and teach people faith. I understand that I cannot be satisfied with words and that I also must implement the same principles on which I have educated others. This is a test of my faith." While R' Ben Yishai's quote is one of strength and determination, I can't help but think he's burnt inside. No parent should have to bury his children, or grandparent his grandchildren - it's just not natural. How can it not destroy one internally?
This past Shabbat, my mother-in-law mentioned how the twins went to the shiva house of R' Ben Yishai. She made some comment about the Rabbi, and I asked, "Is he the Rabbi of the French shul down the road?" She nodded, and I sat back in shock. I prayed at this man's Bet Knesset for over a year, and often discussed various subjects with him. I talk to him whenever I run into him in the street or in other synagogues in the area. I just wonder if I'll ever be able to look at him the same way ... Will he ever be the same man again?