Three weeks ago, when Rav Berland first put out his call for another Atzeret, or prayer gathering in Hevron, I have to admit to being a little surprised. Yes, things were still pretty bad down South – but there’s been a war in all but the name going on there for months.

After Hamas fired 470 rockets in one day, they then seemed to have closed their artillery back up, and replaced their batteries and missiles back in the schools and hospitals which typically house them in Gaza.

Not feeling the problem

I don’t live in the South anymore, so I didn’t feel the rockets, and I don’t feel the ongoing fires and other terrorist activities directly. That’s just how it is, I think, that when you aren’t living it yourself, and you’re not regularly visiting the war zone, and you don’t know a lot of people who are. You kind of just blank it out and get on with ‘regular’ life.

So I was wondering three weeks ago: why a prayer gathering again now? What’s going on that’s got the Rav so concerned? Why was he talking about a war in the North, when Israel’s Northern border had been pretty quiet for over a decade, already?

Hezbollah’s tunnels are discovered

Literally three days after Shuvu Banim started publicizing the new prayer gathering, the Israel government announced that Hezbollah had been building tunnels underground, across the border from Lebanon to Israel. Lots of tunnels. With the intent to ‘pop up’ in Israel, kill as many Jews as they can, and then retreat back to their bunkers in Lebanon, maybe even with a few kidnapped Jews in tow, God forbid.

That got my attention. That got me a little more worried.

But still, I don’t live in the North, and I don’t go there so often, so the day-to-day bubble still stayed secure.

The Atzeret came and went – and while thousands of brave souls did come out to Hevron on Zot Chanuka, and while we did try to pray our socks off as directed by the Rav, it was far, far short of the 50,000 the Rav said we’d need to really cancel all the harsh decrees.

While so many of us tried to encourage more people to come, so many of our pleas fell on deaf ears. What could we do.

Mass shooting in Ofra

Just a few hours after the Atzeret, came the awful news of the mass shooting in Ofra, just to the North of Jerusalem in the West Bank. One of the people injured in that terrorist attack is the daughter of a Rav in my kid’s ulpana, also in the West Bank.

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All of a sudden, the problem jumped a whole mile closer to home.

Then this morning, I read that a terrorist tried to stab an avreich from the Shuvu Banim yeshiva, and lightly wounded two policemen right by Kotel HaKatan in the Muslim quarter of the Old City. Before we moved, my kids used to daven at the Kotel HaKatan with their friends every Friday night. I know that area well. My husband is part of the Shuvu Banim yeshiva.

The problem jumped another mile closer.

Now, I just read that two more people were murdered while they were standing at a trempiada back up in the West Bank, shot by another terrorist who sprayed the hitch-hiking post with bullets. My girls stand at trempiadas in the West Bank sometimes.

I just now got an email from one of the schools telling us the girls have to only take buses, and to move away from the trempiadas on Road 60, which goes right past the school.

The problem is coming closer and closer.

What can we do?

We can pray. A lot.

We say the Tikkun HaKlali

We can continue to work on all the bad middot that prevented us from taking the Rav’s words so seriously, or encouraged us to tune out and let someone else shlep off to Hevron Sunday night, or that told us not to spread the Rav’s warnings more widely because that could make us look bad.

This is all big work, it’s all serious work.

But this week, the violence took a massive leap up, and the security situation took a massive leap down.

The Rav was right.

Surely, this must be obvious to anyone who is willing to look the facts in the face?

And the Atzeret certainly managed to sweeten something. But whether the ‘something’ is going to be enough, we just don’t know.

  • After the Atzeret, the Rav said that the next prayer gathering will be held Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 5779. BH, we managed to stem the tide for a few more months, but the way things are going, I have the feeling a few thousand more people will be showing up to the next Atzeret. It’s just so sad that more Jewish blood had to be shed because we didn’t take the Rav’s warnings more seriously.

You can read more of Rivka’s musings on her blog:

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