One of my daughters spent last year in the Shomron community of Eli, doing her first year of voluntary service. Religious girls, rather than serve in the army, volunteer for a year or two. She celebrated this past Shabbat at the community, as they marked the 18th anniversary of the founding of Eli.
On Saturday night, as she climbed onto the bus to Jerusalem, our daughter heard someone calling to a little boy, ?when you get home, call us, let us know you arrived.? Seeing the little boy sitting alone, she sat down next to him and they began talking. He said his name was Beniya and that he is soon to start second grade. My daughter asked him if he was traveling alone and he answered that two of his brothers, aged 14 and 4 were also on the bus. She asked again, ?What, you?re traveling without your parents?? He put his head down and answered almost in a whisper, ?My parents are dead.? With a sinking feeling in her stomach, she asked him his family name and he responded Dickstein. Rabbi Yossi and Hanna Dickstein, together with their son Shuvel, were killed one month ago, on a Friday afternoon, by the same terrorists who murdered Elazar Leibovitch from Hebron.
My daughter asked Beniya with whom they had stayed with for Shabbat. He told her that his aunt and uncle live in Eli and that they may move to his house in Psagot to be his new mother and father. When? He answered, ?When my oldest brother, Tzvi Yehuda, aged 20, decides that we need parents.? Then, discussing the upcoming school year, Beniya said that his sister promised him that on the first day of school he would be able to wear the new clothing his mother had purchased for his murdered brother. ?Shuvel had a lot of clothing and now it is all mine,? he added.
Last week we had a community discussion here in Hebron about the current situation, following the funeral of the murdered Elazar Lebovitch. Sitting in the room, looking around, I realized that I was in the presence of four families who had lost loved ones to Arab terrorists: Rebbetzin Chaya Ra?anan, whose husband, Rav Shlomo Ra?anan, a 63 year old Rabbi and grandson of Rav Kook, was murdered in his Tel Rumeida home four years ago; Yitzik Pass, whose 10-month-old daughter Shalhevet was killed a year and a half ago; Anat Cohen, whose brother Gilad was killed in the Shomron over a year ago; and now the Lebovitch family. Four families, in one room, all victims of Oslo.
As you probably know, the army pulled out of Bethlehem and relinquished control over parts of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority terrorists as part of an agreement called ?Bethlehem and Gaza First?, with the goal of again removing Israeli forces from all of the cities in PA-occupied Yehuda and Shomron, leaving them in the hands of the terrorists. The next city on the list of cities to be abandoned was, of course, Hebron. What you may not know is that the Defense Minister, Binyamin (?Fuad?) Ben-Eliezer, notified the army of the retreat from Bethlehem an hour beforehand, against IDF recommendations. He, too, favored a swift abandonment of Hebron. However, senior IDF officers, vehemently opposing the pullout from Hebron, made their opinions known to the media and Fuad was forced to, in his words, postpone the IDF pullout. However, he has made it clear that the Bethlehem-Gaza agreement has not been suspended and will remain in effect.
This, despite the fact that the senior PA minister and Arafat advisor Nabil Sha?ath was quoted in a Jordanian magazine as favoring continued suicide attacks. This, despite the fact that Arafat advisor, terrorist Muhammad Dahlan last week said that the Bethlehem-Gaza agreement was dead. This despite the fact that, on Friday, PA-appointed muftis in Jerusalem again incited, claiming that the entire Temple Mount belongs to the Palestinians alone. This, despite the fact that the PA continues to shell communities in Gush Katif with anti-tank missiles and mortars. This, despite that fact that Fatah central council member Hani al-Hassan states that the agreement does not obligate the PA to collect illegal weapons or arrest gunmen. This, despite the fact that the Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Ya?alon declared that the ?Palestinian threat is cancerous.?
Why is our Defense Minister so stubbornly supporting his own policy of stupidity? Simply, because he wants to defeat the newly-declared candidate for Labor party chairman in the next election, the ultra-leftist mayor of Haifa, Amram Mitzna. Fuad has to prove that he too can be a leftist, in spite of his naturally (relatively) right-wing tendencies. More importantly, why is Ariel Sharon allowing Fuad to play this game? Again, simply because Sharon prefers Ben-Eliezer to Mitzna.
The final result of this convoluted equation is more spilled Jewish blood, more loss of Jewish life, more orphans, more widows, more tears. And more little boys, like Beniya Dickstein, who have to search for a new set of parents, G-d forbid.
Way back in 1994, the Meshulam
family, Rabbi Inon, his wife Orna, and their children left their home in
Rechovot and made Aliyah to Hebron. Here they took up residence in Beit
Shneerson, right next to Beit Hadassah. Rabbi Inon, a serious Torah scholar
continued to study and teach. His wife Orna taught in the Kiryat Arba Ulpana,
the girl’s high school. A Yeminite family, the Meshulam’s added a special
flavor to the Hebron environs.
On a Sunday morning in January
of 1995 the Meshulam’s had an unexpected visitor. Their then 10 year old
daughter Bat El stayed home that day, not feeling well. Everyone else was out,
at work or at school. At about 9:15 in the morning women outside Beit Hadassah
hearing a nearby explosion, ran to soldiers guarding in the area and asked what
had happened. The soldiers shrugged, answering that the explosion occurred far
away. The women and soldiers were still discussing the incident when 10 year
old Bat El ran outside, calling to them, screaming, ‘something exploded in our kitchen.”
Everyone ran upstairs and found the remains of a Lowe missile smoldering on the
floor. The missile, shot by terrorists from the Harat a’Shech hills, smashed
through the Meshulam’s kitchen window and plowed into the wall, not far from
where Bat El was resting in her room. Fortunately for her and for the other
residents of the building, the Lowe missile, stolen from an Israeli military
base near Jericho, was used by Israeli forces for training exercises and did
not contain a loaded warhead.
Almost a half a year ago, in March, another one of the Meshulam
children, 16 year old Eliya was walking outside the Avraham Avinu neighborhood
when an Arab terrorist ran out from the Arab market with a knife in his hands.
He plunged the knife into the Jewish youth and ran off, managing to escape from
Israeli military forces. Eliya was seriously wounded, as the huge knife
virtually pierced him, from side to side. However, G-d was watching over Eliya
Meshulam. Despite injuries to his liver
and colon, two weeks later Eliya was back home. Another Meshulam family
But that wasn’t really the second miracle. It was the third. Almost
exactly a year ago, on August 25, 2001, eleven year old Tzviel Meshulam and his
seventeen year old brother Matanel were playing on the porch of their home. At
seven o’clock in the evening Arab terrorists began shooting at them from the
infamous Abu Sneneh hills. One bullet tore through Matanel’s hand and a bullet
fragment punctured Tzviel’s chest, missing his lungs by millimeters. Tzviel’s injury was, at first, considered to
be serious, but he recovered quickly. Matanel’s wound caused grave damage to
his hand, and he has undergone numerous medical procedures over the past year.
At the time of the shooting Matenel was serving in the army. These days, in
between medical care, Matanel spends his time studying Torah.
One might ask, how does a family react to continued terrorist acts,
especially when they strike, not just so close to home, but literally at home?
The Meshulam’s have tremendous faith, and I think I can accurately state that
these three terror attacks have strengthened them. They did not leave Hebron, they did not try
and run away from the murderers attempting to kill them. Rather they have stood
up to the terror, staring it in the eye, defeating it.
Tonight, almost exactly one year after being shot, Matanel Meshulam is
marrying Inbar, ready to begin his own family, a family that will undoubtedly
be imbibed with faith, personifying the ideal of settling the land, together
with Torah study, within the framework of the highest ethical and moral
standards. Due to the lack of space at
the moment in Hebron, the young couple will begin their married life only a few
minutes away, in the community of Bat Ayin, in Gush Etzion. The very fact that
Matanel is continuing in the footsteps of his parents is a victory for Am
Yisrael in its war against an enemy wishing to destroy us.
following the missile attack on the Meshulam home, then 10 year old Bat-El was
interviewed on Israeli radio, only hours after the missile exploded in her
kitchen. When the interviewer asked her if she wanted to stay in Hebron she
answered affirmatively. When asked why she answered, “I feel very lucky to live in Hebron
This is the City of the Patriarchs. I
live nearMa'arat HaMachpela. I havethe privilege to pray there.
Now I'm going to walk to Ma'arat HaMachpela to say
HaGomel" (a blessing ofthanksgiving) for the miracle that happened to me this morning".
Bat-El was the first of four Meshulam
children that have made the blessing for miracles in the past seven years. And
those miracles are starting to bear fruit, beginning tonight, with Matanel