“He didn’t get to say the Shma”

Saturday night 12 bMarHeshvan

Two brief comments on the Rabin memorial (the Hebrew yahrzeit is tonight) which is taking place in Tel Aviv as I write these lines, in the square where the Prime Minister z”l was shot 10 years ago.

Since last week (the Gregorian date of the murder was Nov.4), the newspapers have been filled with dozens and dozens of articles and features about Rabin from every angle. (One article in particular in Haaretz had several quotes from Rabin in which he had made extremely derogatory statements about settlers and religious Israelis. See “A decade without him.” ) Tonight there is a massive gathering in Rabin Square (reports vary from 70,000 to 200,000 participants), and former President Clinton is a featured speaker.

Comment #1. Following the shooting a decade ago, also on a motzei Shabbat, the most moving comment I heard was the following. The morning after Rabin was murdered I happened to see the daughter of the Klausenberger Rebbe ztz”l here in Kiryat Sanz, Netanya.(The Rebbe of Sanz-Klausenberg’s first wife and 11 children were murdered during the Shoah; he remarried, moved to the US, had seven children, then came to Netanya, founded a hassidic enclave here and built Laniado-Sanz hospital ).

That “morning after” I saw one of the Klausenberger Rebbe’s daughters and I was curious about her reaction to the Rabin murder. She instinctively said the most tragic aspect was that he became unconscious and probably died without having a chance to say Shma Yisrael.

Comment #2. While the Tel Aviv memorial rally is taking place now, a memorial gathering of thousands of men and women is taking place in Jerusalem for Rachel Imenu, the Biblical Rachel, whose yahrzeit is also tonight 11 b Heshvan (Rabin’s is 12 b Heshvan). She died slightly south of Jerusalem on Derech Efrata and there is a small memorial building there.

In the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

So says G-d: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping; Rachel weeps for her children, she refuses to be comforted, for her children, ….” So says G-d: “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is reward for your effort, says G-d; and they shall return from the land of the enemy. And there is hope for your future, says G-d, and the children shall return to their border.”

I wonder whether these two rallies symbolize the gap between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; between a memory that goes back a decade and one that goes back 4 millenia.

Shira Schmidt

Shira Leibowitz Schmidt was raised in an assimilated Jewish home in New York, and became observant while studying at Stanford University in California. In June 1967 she told her engineering school professor she would miss the final exam because she was going to Israel to volunteer during the Six Day War. “That’s the most original excuse I have ever been offered,” he responded. She arrived during the war and stayed, receiving her BSc in absentia. She subsequently met and married the late Elhanan Leibowitz, and they raised their six children in Beersheba. Mrs. Leibowitz acquired a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from the Technion, and an MSc in Civil Engineering from University of Waterloo. Today she lives with her husband, Dr. Baruch Schmidt, in Netanya. She co-authored, with Nobel prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann, Old Wine New Flasks. She has co-translated from Hebrew to English (with Jessica Setbon) From the Depths (the autobiography of Rabbi Israel Meir Lau); The Forgotten Memoirs (memoirs of Rabbis who survived the Shoah, edited by Esther Farbstein); and Rest of the Dove (Parashat Hashavua by Rabbi Haim Sabato). She and her husband appear in the documentary film about the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, “Hidden Face.” She is available to lecture in Israel and in the US and can be contacted via www.cross-currents.com.

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2 Responses

  1. Netanel Livni says:

    I don’t see how a religious person can mourn Rabin. A man whose policies have led to over 1000 Jews murdered in just the past few years (not to mention all the victims of Oslo before this intifada). And lets not forget the cold-blooded murder of the Jews on the Altalena, Ravin was the commander of the force that opened fire on that ship.

  2. Shira Schmidt says:

    12 b Heshvan
    I gave a reference to an article in Haaretz that quotes Rabin’s diatribes against religious Jews and settlers. There were definitely problematic aspects to him.
    One of them is his role in firing the “holy cannon” that killed Jews when the Hagana sunk the the Altelana ship in 1948 (and shot Jews in the water). I had a conversation with a high school student in Kiryat Sanz immediately after the murder of Rabin. She said one teacher had discussed the shooting of Rabin in terms of Mishna 7 in Pirkey Avos Chapter 2.

    “He (Hillel) saw a skull floating on the surface of the water.
    He said to it: Because you drowned [another] you were drowned.
    And the those who drowned you will, in the end, be drowned themselves.”

    With respect to what the daughter of the Klausenberger said about Rabin’s murder, I assume she felt it sad that a Jew did not have a chance say the Shema and take other steps (including doing teshuva) before leaving this world.

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