"Instead of the thorn bush, the cypress will come up, and instead of a hollow government, a strong one shall grow," said Rabbi Yaakov Shapira on Sunday, in a paraphrase on a verse from Isaiah 55. Rabbi Shapira, the head of Merkaz HaRav Kook Yeshiva, spoke to journalists following the Thursday-night massacre at its campus.
"At this time, we need to realize the potential power that is hidden in this entire nation, enlarge the Torah and make it great, [and] maintain proper and true educational systems for the general public, until the ministry which is in charge of education touches the deep roots of these powers," the rabbi said.
No Torah - No Moral Fiber
The rabbi went on to quote from Judges 21: "And in those days there was no king in Israel, and each person did what he thought right." He explained that the meaning of the word "king" is Torah.
"If there is no Torah, there is no moral fiber and the physical strength is also lacking," the yeshiva head added. "All day long, we are on the defensive vis-à-vis our neighbors. The nation expects and yearns for a systemic change in thinking, and this is the time."
Rabbi Shapira called for a continuation of the struggle for the Land of Israel. "The voice of the blood of our brothers is calling out to us from the earth," he said. "Here, in this sacred spot, the students' blood – may the Lord avenge their blood – was spilled, on the soil of the Land of Israel."
Where is Our Hevron?
He also related to the journalists the story of the Independence Day celebration in the yeshiva in 1967, during which former dean Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook cried out, prophetically: "Where is our Hevron? Where is our Shechem? Where is every single clod of earth from the sacred Land of Israel?" Three weeks later, the IDF conquered Shechem and Hevron.
Rabbi's Tzvi Yehuda's cry, he said, "strengthens, to this day, the faith and dedication to the indivisibility of the Land of Israel and the prohibition on giving up any part of its territory."
Not Ashamed to Cry
"The nation expects and yearns for a systemic change in thinking and this is the time."
Earlier Sunday, Rabbi Yerachmiel Weiss, who heads the High School Yeshiva in Merkaz HaRav, spoke to his students. "Matters of life and death are beyond our comprehension, and we all need help: you, I, the teachers and the educators," he said. "Do not be too shy to ask for help and to cry. I am also not ashamed to cry," said the rabbi, who wept Friday during eulogies for the High School Yeshiva's fallen students.
Before the conversation with the rabbi, the students made arrangements to study Gemara portions, for the raising of the souls of their slain friends. Rabbi Weiss updated them on the condition of their wounded classmates and asked them to organize the visits to the hospital in an orderly fashion. He also stressed the importance of continuing to study Torah.
"Loss of life is a terrible thing, and now we have to complete what we are missing in the study house," he told his students, his voice occasionally breaking. "We cannot make up for missing people, and if we are not organized we will all fall apart. It is important that within all this chaos, we are able to move forward."