On the first anniversary of Sergeant Elhai Taharlev's murder in a terrorist attack, hundreds of family members, friends, and acquaintances went to the military cemetery on Mount Herzl to honor his memory.
His father, head of Midreshet Lindenbaum Rabbi Ohad Taharlev said, "Yesterday, when I went to the afternoon mincha prayer service, I saw people hurrying to pray. The feeling was as if we were ushering in the holiest day of the year, just as on the eve of Yom Kippur. And indeed, a new date was born into the world - the tenth of Nisan - a Day of Atonement.
"To the question which is more real, fantasy or the reality in which we live, it's clear that fantasy is more real and existential. Your presence leaves its mark wherever you are. A great soul descended to the world almost 22 years ago, and every place, time, and person you encountered, you managed to touch them all, and bring them light from above, a light that inspires peace, kindliness, and thirst for the Living G-d. Such a light and ardor as your smile stays with us everywhere, and you continue to touch all of us; your touch contacts our longing and makes it 'a living G-dly light' (an allusion to the name Elhai)," added Rabbi Taharlev.
"Elhaiush, we will continue to feel the pain of what is not, and rejoice in what is. And there are many, many such reasons to rejoice. We will learn to be happy even though we don't see you in the eye of reality. We shall strive to live for the elevation of your soul. And I am sure that the more we increase in life and joy the more we will uplift your soul and ours," concluded Rabbi Taharlev.
Elhai's mother Avital Taharlev said "in the twelve months that have elapsed since you were taken away from us, your character has taken on a new and different existence. You've become a powerful and present being, full of glory and light. And many sparkling glimmers bring us again and again greetings from your heavenly existence:
"There are four little Elhais who were born this year and were named after you, and there are a number of articles and books devoted to your soul's ascent, and there are free-loan gemach charities for circumcisions, holy books, and musical instruments. So much kindness was done for us by our neighbors and friends this year for the elevation of your soul," added the mother.
She said, "It's hard for me to get used to the way you are with us - abstract, spiritual, lacking body and substance, and in my heart area there's a kind of hole that tears and creaks and burns; they call it longing, and it doesn't let up day or night. Every day we have to beat the Angel of Death again, to fight it, to fight weakness and sadness. And every day to feel the longing, the yearning, the aching of the heart that gives no rest, and every day to choose life, to raise our heads, to whisper to ourselves that G-d lives (Elhai) and to connect with who you were, who you are, what we are; Elhai - G-d lives," she said.
Lt. Col. Avishay Brukenthal, Battalion 13, brought the words of GOC Northern Command Yoel Strick: "Elhai, I didn't know you in your life, but day after day we mark your absence. A year has passed since you suffered the worst disaster, a year that has passed since we all first met, and I was privileged to meet a family full of light and love, which reflects much of the Israeliness that should burn here brightly. A family of fulfillment and personal example. You told me that when the time came, Elhai requested the most meaningful military service possible; he always volunteered for the difficult tasks and always with love. Also the last security mission that brought about his tragedy he faced with force and determination. Many are the times we've had to pay the most unbearable price, the space that cannot be filled; along with the gaping space continue to march with pride and poignancy."
Uri Levin, a friend of Elhai's, said at the memorial service, "It turns out that clichés are true sometimes. There wasn't a day I went through this year when I didn't want to call Elhai and tell him about developments in my life. The lack and difficulty didn't subside after a year, but only intensified day by day. There was no one who didn't love you; no one you didn't love without exception. Recently we returned for Shabbat at the Makor Chaim yeshiva, and every group that came together felt they missed you the most because you were simply connected with and belonged to everyone.
"You weren't one of those friends who try to lead or improve others; you were always there for me on the phone or with a coffee; I miss your knock on the door, your ear-to-ear smile that asks everyone how he is and how he feels. He is a part of me, in everything I do and wherever I go," Levin concluded.