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'Many Miracles' Despite Tragedy in Be'er Sheva Missile Attack

A lethal missile attack in Be'er Sheva Saturday evening brought with it the recognition of many open miracles despite a tragic death.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 8/22/2011, 8:05 PM

Rabbi Avraham Cohen at missile site
Rabbi Avraham Cohen at missile site
HLJ

A lethal Grad Katyusha missile attack on Be'er Sheva last Saturday night uncovered several unexpected open miracles even in the face of its devastating consequences.

Local residents are not hesitant to explain how 38 year old victim Yossi Shushan parked his car behind the destroyed car port and made a run for the nearest house.

He didn't make it.  “The Creator decided to drop the missile directly, precisely on this site just as he passed the driveway,” a wrinkled, tanned Sephardic  man from down the street commented in sad tones. “There is no understanding G-d's reasoning. It was just His Will that night.”

But the neighbor, who asked not to be identified, also pointed out that G-d did not withhold His Mercy entirely. “There were many miracles as well,” he said.

A visit to the site showed that he was right.

Rabbi Avraham Cohen, the first Chabad-Lubavitch emissary sent to Be'er Sheva some 35 years ago, agreed. “The fact that I am standing here, that my family is alive, is an open miracle,” he told Arutz Sheva. However, that was not to say that his family was not terrified by the blast.

“The trauma affects everyone – my family included – although in different ways,” he said. “Yesterday I heard children who are totally not religious reciting the 12 Bible passages recommended for children [by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson]. Each person reaches out for strength in whichever way he can,” he commented.

“Three people get together in Gaza to launch a missile at our city of 200,000,” Rabbi Cohen said, “but we too can do something about it. We can reach out to each other and strengthen our resolve. We can strengthen our spiritual weapons as well, put a coin in the charity box each morning, a quick 'good morning' smile to our fellow Jews.”

Rabbi Cohen's home, just 200 meters away from the site, serves as one of several springboards from which he serves the 60,000-strong neighborhood. A roomy Chabad House built about eight years ago provides a beautiful space for worship, for instance – but also has an equally large space below that is legally certified as a bomb shelter.

Even without a public bomb shelter, said neighbors, Saturday evening's missile attack brought with it many miracles, although it came with a tragic murder and other wounded people elsewhere in the city.

“Go talk to the people whose gas line was destroyed next door,” advised the wizened neighbor from down the street. “They can't use their kitchen stove, but the destruction didn't touch even one holy book.”

Mazal Damri and her husband Meir weren't home, in fact, when the deadly missile struck the car port next to their patio.

That in itself was a miracle. Usually that's not the case – the Damris make a point of inviting guests every Sabbath. Their yard at that hour is generally packed with people for the relaxed third meal of the holy day, “seuda shlishit” in which Jews bid farewell to the Sabbath.

But last Saturday the Damri family was in Soroka Medical Center. Last Tuesday, Meir suffered a heart attack. “I fought so hard to come home, just for the Sabbath,” Damri told Arutz Sheva. “But the doctors wouldn't budge.”

His wife Mazal called it “an open miracle,” and pointed out that had it not been for the doctors' stubbornness -- which they could not understand at the time -- the entire family probably would have been killed.

“But that's not all,” she added. “Look around you. Not one religious item in our house was damaged in the attack, despite the havoc wreaked all around.”

It was true. All of the windows on the ground floor were blown out by the force of the blast. The black metal frames were cruelly twisted by the heat of the explosion. Pits abound in every wall of the couple's lovely upper middle-class home, and two dining room chairs were broken.

Despite the damage, however, a portrait of a rabbinic sage hanging on the kitchen wall right next to the site of the missile impact was completely untouched.

Likewise the elegant glass-enclosed bookcase on which rows and rows of holy books stood pristine, with not even a speck of soot from the blast. The glass, too, is untouched.

Even the small glass-enclosed hamsa and other religious objets d'art hanging in the foyer on the wall near the front door have not been disturbed.

“So many miracles,” Mazal Damri murmured as she indicated each wound gouged into her walls by the flying shrapnel.

“This is a good time to put a charity box in the room so you can drop a coin in it when leaving the house in the morning and when you come back in,” Rabbi Cohen advised the couple. “Any charity box will do.” He smiled. "It's a blessing for your house."

“I will try to do that from now on,” Meir Damri nodded thoughtfully. "It's good advice."



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