Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Friend's Funeral

I went to the funeral of Amichai Merchavia today. It was in Eli, the city that he grew up in and loved. Many thousands of people were there, many of them who knew him from the army, from Yeshiva, from Eli, or others whos lives he touched. Some spoke about his famous smile, others about his desire to help, his love for Torah. Natan Sharansky spoke about how sad it is that soldiers die, but we have to keep going on, and we have no choice but to win the battle. His mother told us how wonderful of a son he was, never complaining, always helping, and always with a smile. Who could ever forget his smile?!? But the two most moving eulogies were from his friend in Yeshiva, and his father. His friend told stories about him, how much he loved Israel, how important Torah and the army was to him. The friend was talking to him once about what the actual mitzva (commandment) of living in Israel is, and is it really a mitzva today? Amichai jumped up and yelled at him, it doesn't have to be a mitzva! It is our teva (nature) to be here! It was the only time he ever heard Amichai yell. He believed so much in the importance of buiding Israel that he bought three olive trees and planted them in an orchard in the settlement. They were roommates, and he cried, "I always saw Amichai laying on his bed with a sefer (book) before going to sleep. How can I see him now laying in a casket!" He told many stories, about conversations they had, and trips they took. There wasnt a dry eye when he had finished. After the eulogy, we went to the cemetery for the burial. Then the father spoke. "I spoke to Amichai last week, and I asked him if he was afraid. He said the only thing he was afraid of was not being the best officer he could be, and letting his soldiers down. He never thought of himself, only of other." The father went on and said, "my son died protecting this country. And while I'm heartbroken, I know he died for a good cause, a cause he and we believe in. Defending Israel. And this war must go on. We can't quit until we've won. And I thank you, all you soldiers out there watching out for us, I thank you and I praise you." Such powerful words from a man who had just lost his son, not to blame the army, the government, and to even praise them. I was amazed at his strength. And then we stood outside the cemetary in two rows and as the parents and their remaining children walked by, we all said "May God comfort you amongst the rest of the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."


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