Rabbi Israel Becker
Tel Aviv Eye-Opener
Just yesterday on our synagogue trip in Israel we visited Yam Hamelach, which is mentioned in this week’s Torah portion.
The Yam Hamelach is the Salt Sea which we know today as the Dead Sea. The name Salt Sea is certainly appropriate because the sea is so salty that you cannot sink in it even if you try. But what make the Dead Sea dead? The Jordan River which flows forth from the hills and mountains of the Golan Heights flows into the Kinneret, which is in Tiberias .The Kinneret flows again into the Jordan. As the Jordan River continues southward it feeds the Dead Sea. However, the Dead Sea does not feed any other river. The Dead Sea takes, but does not give. It is no coincidence that the Dead Sea is situated in the heart of what was once Sodom and Gomorra, the cities where acts of kindness were illegal and even punishable by death. The name Dead Sea is totally accurate. G-d created us to give to one another. Not giving is not living.
We had spoken much during this past week about the self sacrifice of Israel’s early pioneers and the ultimate sacrifice that was made by so many young people from the days of the British Occupation until today.
Our group toured Tel Aviv today and I needed to pray Mincha, the afternoon prayer. I walked to Tel Aviv’s Great Synagogue. There were no services taking place at the time but I still wanted to pray. Looking for a spot, something caught my attention. At the front of the synagogue where the leader leads the service, I noticed on the cover an inscription which had the Hebrew words “age 20”.
I read the inscription :
An elevation for the soul of our son and our brother
The paratrooper Lieutenant Erez Neeman, May his memory be for blessing,
the son of Chava and Yitzchok, May they live and be well,
who fell while carrying out his duties on 5 Cheshvan 5744
age 20, may his memory be for blessing.
I felt drawn to it and prayed nearby. When I came back to the bus I shared my experience with my wife Esther, and together we read the inscription from a photo that I took. We were awestruck when we realized that the Yahrzeit of young Erez Neeman is tonight!
At tonight’s Maariv service in Jerusalem, I felt emotionally attached to Erez and said Kaddish for him. In fact, I realized that I am able to enjoy and experience Israel because of the ultimate sacrifice made by Erez and countless others like him. Unlike the Dead Sea, which is truly dead, these young people who sacrificed their lives, in a sense continue to live, because they continue to give.
Am Yisroel Chai!!!