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Reflections of a Massacre

7:01 A.M.

Two terrorists burst into an early-morning minyan in Har Nof’s B’nei Torah shul and brutally murdered four kedoshim, shoving the entire Jewish people into mourning once again.

As a nation, we are no strangers to terror. There are periods of time when we almost expect to wake up every morning to the news of yet another chilling attack. And yet, at least to me, it seemed that this one affected us differently.

Perhaps it is because I can identify with the victims better than in other attacks. All Anglo-Saxon men, the kedoshim were akin in their status as revered figures in their largely American community. We all know someone that knew them well. Many friends of mine are close talmidim of Rabbi Moshe Twerski hy”d. My grandparents live just blocks from the B’nei Torah shul and undoubtedly crossed paths with the families of the victims.

Or perhaps it is because Har Nof is such a serene neighborhood, one of my personal favorites in all of Jerusalem. Sporting a close-knit Torah community where world class Torah scholars and businessmen live side by side in the service of Hashem, Har Nof is renowned throughout Israel as a peaceful oasis in the turbulent capital city. A neighborhood where chessed is paramount and where you can find gems of mussar wherever you walk if you only keep your eyes open.

Perhaps it is the contrast of this backdrop where the heinous act occurred that left such a jarring pain in our hearts.

Or maybe, just maybe, it was the frightening precedent that this attack set. We feel safe in our shuls and yeshivas, and we unquestionably should. But this barbaric invasion on our sense of security has left us feeling vulnerable and defenseless even in our fortresses of spiritual protection. Perhaps that was the reason that this attack was different.

Regardless of the reason, I found myself unusually shaken up last Tuesday morning. It felt as if the terror was coming closer and closer to home. It disturbed my equilibrium so much that it got me thinking about what I should change in my life to make myself better and help protect K’lal Yisroel. This in turn got me thinking about how unfortunate it is that it takes so much terror to get me to turn introspective. Why is it that only when I can identify well with the victims do I take it personally? I guess that’s just human nature. Our job as nos’im bi’ol is to not let it come to this point. Heaven does not want to have to keep letting us die before we all get the message.

After some speculation, I know clearly where I need improvement. Unfortunately, it did not take too much thought. I also know how I plan on improving in this area. It will be my little part in helping to assure that there be no more korbanos.

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