Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir Eyal ben Ayish

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin (http://yehoshuasiskin.blogspot.com)

Yesterday I met Or Elharar, the widow of Major Itamar Elharar who was killed from friendly fire last week along with Major Ofek Aharon.

And I received one of the most deeply moving answers that I ever received to an interview question.

I heard from Or how she met her husband, how they got married at a small Corona wedding in a backyard ("No catering, no wedding hall, but the most important thing, the groom, was there"), and how caring Itamar was ("He made me feel that every minute with me was the most precious thing in the world").

She told me that if she had to live her life again, she would do it exactly the same way, even if she knew she would part from him in this manner ("I felt completely whole each day that we were together, and I would do it all over again").

At the end, I gently asked her what she has to say to N, the soldier who mistakenly shot the two officers. Or paused to reflect and then answered as follows:

"This was an accident, and I think if Itamar would have made a similar mistake, if the situation was reversed, I would have told my husband to simply keep on living. If Itamar was the one who had made such an error, what would I want for him? And the answer is that I would want for him the strength to move beyond this. Therefore this is what I say to N and his family: Embrace him and bolster him, be with him to the fullest possible extent, and he will receive the strength to keep on living."

To truly "love your fellow as yourself" is to love the other exactly as you would want to be loved, to behave as you would have the other behave towards you. Yesterday, amidst the most painful circumstances, my own eyes witnessed such love.

*******

And then I thought about a person who passed away this week and who dedicated his life to giving meaning to life, the man behind "Dvar Malchut'*

I imagine that most of you reading this have never heard of Rabbi Tuvia Peles, but a significant number of you, no doubt, have heard of his life's work: "Dvar Malchut." The famous colored booklets are published each week and contain an enormous treasure of divrei Torah and hassidut: the weekly Torah portion with Rashi's commentary (with an additional commentator that Rabbi Peles changed from year to year), the Haftarah, carefully chosen letters and thoughts of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, annotated book of Tanya segments, daily Rambam studies, sparks of inspiration from the parasha, and much more.

We have been subscribers to "Dvar Malchut" for a number of years (truth be told we have two subscriptions in order to maintain shalom bayit ...) and inestimable content has been added to our lives through the many hours we have put the booklets to use. Multiply those hours by the tens of thousands of copies distributed each week throughout the world. It's amazing to see how one person's devotion to a project can make such an enormous difference in the lives of so many people.

Rabbi Tuvia Peles passed away suddenly this week at the age of 73. He was a man of dedication and accomplishments, from serving as the head of Prime MInister Ben-Gurion's security at Kibbutz Sde Boker until his final days, when he continued to utilize every moment with thoughts of how to spread more and more Torah.

While looking at the booklets on my desk, I suddenly noticed that his name does not appear anywhere on them. He acted with such modesty that so many who owe him so much are only now hearing about him for the first time.

*******

And another 73 year old discovers he is Jewish for the first time a few days before Parshat Yitro is read in shul.

"Shalom Sivan, my name is Shoham Goldstein. I am an emissary in Australia for the Torah MiTzion movement. Several days ago all of the emissaries went on a trip in southern Australia. We wound up on a remote ranch where you pick your own blueberries and pay on your way out. All of a sudden the owner of the field, advanced in years, appeared. He said hello and asked us who we were. We told him we were from Israel and he said: 'My mother was once Jewish.'

We inquired further and learned that his mother fled Germany as a young child and due to the persecution and trauma suffered, she did not live a Jewish life in any respect. He was raised as a Christian. We asked him if he had ever heard about the concept of a Bar Mitzvah. He said he had, but had never celebrated one. One of the guys brought his tefillin from the car, and we held a spontaneous Bar MItzvah celebration for James (Ya'akov) Lillywhite, aged 73, albeit 60 years late.

He put on tefillin for the first time in his life, listened to us explain the meaning of the mitzvah, and repeated every word of the blessings after us. Then we all danced in a circle around him, with much excitement on our part and his. We are here working with the Jewish community, but had not yet had the experience of revealing to someone that he's Jewish.

On Shabbat, we will read parashat Yitro, standing at Mount Sinai as we receive the Ten Commandments. It is said that the souls of all of us were there at the foot of the mountain. This week we met one of them".

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