'We need more soldiers like Armoni'

Rabbi Re'em Hacohen eulogizes his fallen student Avshalom Armoni, who was killed Wednesday in a training accident.

Tzvi Lev ,

Avshalom Armoni and Avinoam Cohen
Avshalom Armoni and Avinoam Cohen
Flash 90

Lieutenant Avshalom Armoni was killed Wednesday morning along with Sergeant Avinoam Cohen when his self-propelled howitzer cannon flipped over during a training exercise. Armoni was laid to rest at Har Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem on Thursday, and his sudden death devastated Rabbi Re'em Hacohen, who heads the Otniel Yeshiva where Armoni studied for four years.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Rabbi Re'em Hacohen spoke of a conscientious Torah scholar, who encouraged his friends to take their Torah learning to a higher level. "After he finished his first tractate of Talmud, he urged everyone to study something more complicated, so they moved on to learn something much more difficult," Hakohen said.

The IDF had agreed to permit Armoni to take an eight-month break before starting an officer's course, enabling him to study Torah - only to call him back four months into his break. Armoni fought with the army in order to stay in yeshiva, something Rabbi Re'em Hacohen says was not out of character, as his love for Torah study was well known.

"He drafted into the IDF, returned to study in Otniel, and debated endlessly with himself whether to leave the yeshiva for officer training school or to stay," related Hacohen. "It was extremely hard for him to go to officer training school because he loved the yeshiva so much, but he saw the value of giving to society, to the IDF, and to the State."

According to Hakohen, Armoni was the model soldier, one who took after King David by merging worship of God with fighting Israel's enemies. "We need soldiers like Armoni, who was extremely refined while sitting in the yeshiva study hall yet tough as a rock when going out to battle," said Hacohen.

Avshalom Armoni was supposed to return to Otniel for the Yom Kippur prayer, even asking his fellow students to save him a seat in the jam-packed study hall. "I got a call from one of the rabbis yesterday who tells me that he is looking at a seat which has a sign written on it "reserved for Avshalom Armoni," recalled Rabbi Hacohen. "That's what kind of person he was."