by Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana

The Talmud teaches a great lesson in Jewish life: “Kol Yisrael Arvim Ze b’Ze – All of the Jewish people are responsible, each for the other” (BT Shevuot 39a). For the past 18 days the Jewish world has held its breath as we awaited news of three teens, kidnapped by terrorists as they were hitchhiking home. Every Israeli parent could identify with the mothers who stood on watch, hoping for a word – any word – about her son’s fate. Where was he being held? Was he being beaten? Does he know that all the nation is paying attention – that he is not abandoned? Would the government accede to whatever the terrorists’ eventual demands would be, so that their son could be reunited with his desperately waiting family? And then, the worst news possible: Israeli soldiers discovered the bound and hastily buried bodies of Eyal Yifrach (19), Naftali Fraenkel (16), and Gilad Shaar (16) in a field north of Hebron, in the West Bank.

It seems the three were killed shortly after being abducted. No ransom, no demands. Nothing but hate; vengeance extracted on three innocent teens. There are no words for this kind of evil.

Our hearts go out to the families of these three boys. Our hearts go out to a nation in mourning. Kol Yisrael Arvim Ze b’Ze – we are all responsible for each other – and we failed these three. May we fail no more. Baruch Dayan Haemet – may their memories be a blessing.