Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])
“Shalom Sivan, My name is Yaffa Ben Valid, I am the mother of 33-year-old Barak Ben Valid who was killed in Gaza last week on the tragic day when we lost 24 soldiers. Yesterday we ended the Shiva mourning period. I would be grateful if you would share the following:
"From the hundreds of people who came to comfort us we heard how Barak touched the lives of everyone around him. The character of the son that we knew became clearer with each person who knew Barak, whether for the briefest moment or for an extended period of time.
"Among those who visited was a young man who sat quietly at a distance and just gazed at us. I finally approached him and asked him his name (I’ll call him Y), inquiring about his relationship with Barak. He shared with me the following story.
"In 2009, soldier Y met Barak in basic training. He was in Nahal basic training and Barak was in Shayetet. Y felt isolated from everyone and all bottled up inside. He had difficulty coping with the competition in basic training. Y related how, while going through this trial, Barak was the only one who recognized his vulnerability.
"Barak encouraged him, tried to motivate him, and acted towards him with kindness and sensitivity. He made him feel appreciated and loved. When Y saw the names and pictures of those who fell in Gaza last week, he immediately identified the young soldier who had shown him such kindness.
"I want to thank you, Y, for your visit that touched my heart. Such a short, yet meaningful visit, was so healing and gave me so much hope. I don’t know much about you but, thanks to you, my Barak as an 18-year-old will forever be engraved in my heart. Among all the amazing stories we heard about Barak, this was one of the most inspiring and filled our hearts with immense pride. We wish to pass it along and hope it reverberates everywhere.
"Thank you, Yaffa."