Thursday, September 08, 2011

Mourning Under Glass

On March 6, 2008 eight precious souls were taken from us when a mass murderer entered Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav and started shooting at everyone in sight. One of those taken from us on that day was 16 year old Avraham David Moses. I received a personal letter from his father, Dr. Naftali Moses earlier today asking if I would publicize his new book dealing with that tragic event in his life.

I generally do not accede to such requests. If I did my blog would turn into a repository for book reviews, I get far too many requests like that to allow it as a general rule. But I have made an exception here. Dr. Moses’ pain transcends the pain of personal loss. The loss he felt that day was felt by all of Klal Yisroel. Although none of us dare compare the pain we all felt to that of a parent - it was nevertheless still very painful for all Jewry – indeed for all the civilized world Jew and Gentile alike.

We were all Merkaz HaRav people that day. Our Hashkafos just melted away and seemed to be insignificant. At least for one brief moment of time there were no Charedim, No Chasdim. No Mizrachi; no Agudah; no Datim; no Chardalim; no MO whether RW or LW; no Ashkenazim; and no Sephardim. For one brief moment in time we were all on the same page - one nation mourning the loss of 8 of our finest sons – all while learning Torah L’Shma.

The following text accompanied his request.

Nothing can prepare one for the loss of a child. Nothing can prepare a parent to hear the news of a terror attack and slowly discover that his son is among the eight shot down in cold blood. Nothing can prepare a father for the heartrending pain that burying his firstborn son brings. On March 6, 2008, my sixteen-year-old son, Avraham David, was killed while studying in the Mercaz HaRav library in Jerusalem. On that day my life changed forever.

In the first year of mourning my son, I often felt torn between the intimacy of loss and its public expression. In one tragic moment, my son had become a “martyr,” and I, a “bereaved parent.” Having already buried his body, I worried how I could ever preserve his memory under the frequently too-bright lights of public attention. Mourning Under Glass explores the tensions between memory and memorial, between private pain and public mourning. Can any of our attempts at memorial adequately recall an extinguished life? Can any give voice to the nearly ineffable pain of loss?

A review of the book is in the Jewish Week.