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Eight Holy Offerings

By Tzvi Fishman
3/10/2008, 12:00 AM

We live a few hundred yards away from the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. I usually stop by a few times a week and often daven there on Shabbat and the holidays. For a while, I had a hevruta with Rabbi Yaacov Sharpira, the new Rosh Yeshiva. Twice a week, my twelve-year-old son learns Gemara there in the library where the eight boys were murdered. We are friends of the students and the teachers in the school. Like almost everyone in Israel, we know several of the bereaved families. My older boys rushed to the scene the minute they heard that a terrorist attack was in progress. After hearing the first round of shots, our neighbor, David Shapira, also raced to the Yeshiva and gunned down the Arab killer. The quiet young man is a true hero of Israel.When the two rookie police officers who arrived first on the scene failed to approach the library, David took the cap of one of them and charged in himself while the fire was still raging. The following day, my family came home scorched with sunburn from standing outside the Yeshiva, crying with the thousands who had gathered for the hours of eulogies.

The shiva week is not a time to write blogs that may arouse controversy and strident reactions. Rather, it is a time for soul-searching and silent introspection, everyone with his or her own national mourning and pain.

This week's Torah portion begins: "If any man of you brings an offering, of yourselves should be your offering to the L-rd...."

The eight exaltedly holy young Torah scholars offered their very lives. May their transcendental sacrifice atone for all of our sins, and inspire in all of us a greater devotion to Torah and to the Land of Israel, which they so dearly loved.