A year later: The baby son of the hero who killed the perpetrator of the Merkaz HaRav slaughter was ritually circumcised on Monday by the father of one of the victims - at the very site where the murders occurred.
The following video was filmed by Arutz Sheva Hebrew’s Chezki Ezra. A feature video with interview in English will be available on this website on Tuesday.
Yitzchak Dadon, 41, is the father of the new baby, and the ritual mohel [circumciser] was Rabbi Tzemach Hirschfeld, whose son Yonadav Chaim, 19, was among the eight victims. Dadon, who studies in the yeshiva in the evenings, was the first to shoot the terrorist, and was helped out by another former student of the yeshiva, former paratrooper David Shapira.
The poignancy of the convergence of factors - just a week before the first anniversary of the slaughter, the same location, and the main participants - was not lost on the many dozens of people who crowded into the Merkaz HaRav library where the eight young students were gunned down over their books.
The sandak - the man granted the high honor of holding the baby during the circumcision - was Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi.
Emotions ran high as Rabbi Aryeh Stern - head of the Halakhah Brurah [Elucidated Jewish Law] Institute, located two floors below the main study hall in Merkaz HaRav - recited this prayer over the baby: "May his name in Israel be called - Elkanah ben [son of] Rabbi Yitzchak. May the father rejoice in his offspring, and may the woman delight in the fruit of her womb... And I [G-d] will say:" -- at which point, the congregation joined in, reciting aloud and with great feeling, "With your blood you shall live, with your blood you shall live."
Rabbi Hirschfeld appeared happy and calm after the festive and dramatic occasion, and said, "Yes, this is definitely the closing of a circle. But it's not the first time; I also circumcised the son of Dudi [David] Shapira, who also took part in killing the terrorist. But here, of course, it is even more poignant, given the timing and the location..."
"As we say at the brit," he continued, "and also at the Passover seder, 'With your blood you shall live' - the blood that was spilled here is not the end of the story; there is life after death. Life goes on, babies are born, and thank G-d I deal with this, I am always involved with people who have just had babies, and life continues."
Rabbi Hirschfeld shied away from calling today's event as a type of revenge: "It's true that our grandparents said that every baby born is a revenge against Hitler, but I don't live with that sensation. I could say it is a victory of sorts. We're not giving up, we have babies; I too had grandchildren this year..."
Eight Torah Scrolls, and More
Next Tuesday, Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav and the adjoining Yeshiva LaTze'irim High School - where seven of the victims studied - will host a special memorial. The final letters of eight new Torah scrolls will be written, and the scrolls will be brought into the study hall amidst singing and dancing. Each of the families will then receive one scroll, all donated by a man who prefers to remain anonymous.
The memorial occasion will also be marked by the worldwide conclusion of the study of the 2,700-page Babylonian Talmud, sponsored by B'lev Echad (With One Heart) and Merkaz HaRav. Over the course of this past year, those who wished to study a two-sided page, or several of them, in memory of the slain students, signed up via an internet site designated for the purpose, specifying the pages they planned to study. The entire Talmud was completed more than three times in this manner, and the festive conclusion ceremony will be featured at next Tuesday's memorial, in the presence of Torah scholars from around Israel.