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Arnon Zamora: Katonti

Today I attended the funeral of a modern-day Jewish hero: Arnon Zamora.

Since last night, Israel has been in euphoria about the daring and brilliantly executed rescue mission that brought home Shlomi Ziv, Andrey Kozlov, Almog Meir, and Noa Argamani, who had been held hostage by Hamas in Gaza for eight months. As I watched the videos of the hostages reuniting with their families, I was brought to tears, thinking of my own loved ones and the unimaginable relief those families must have felt. I cried again, seeing the spontaneous celebrations of Jews and our allies all around the world. It felt like the Entebbe raid all over again.

Alas, the parallels did not end there. In Entebbe, the commanding officer, Yoni Netanyahu, fell in battle while rescuing the hostages. And in Nuseirat yesterday, the commanding officer, Arnon Zamora, paid with his life to save his people.

How could I not go to his funeral? If I could celebrate and feel the ecstasy of the whole nation, then I owed it to the person who gave his life so that we could have this joy.

And as you might expect, there were thousands upon thousands of others who felt the same way and descended upon the military cemetery in Har Herzl this afternoon to pay their respects.

Even as I walked through the cemetery to reach the place where the ceremony was taking place, already I was crying freely. I was passing by rows upon rows of graves of soldiers. Soldiers who died just so that I would be able to walk the streets of Israel, live peacefully with my family and community, and go about my day-to-day life like a normal human being, as if there weren't several hundred million enemies surrounding us, who would slaughter us all in cold blood if they had the chance. As they did on October 7.

Whether these soldiers died in 1948 or 2024 makes no difference. They died for me, for my family, for my commmunity, for all the people of Israel. And my heart simply could not contain the weight of the debt of gratitude I owe them.

When Yakov Avinu returned from Aram Naharayim and was confronted with a possible battle against his estranged brother Esav, he turned to God in prayer:

קָטֹנְתִּי מִכֹּל הַחֲסָדִים וּמִכָּל הָאֱמֶת אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ אֶת עַבְדֶּךָ...

I am unworthy of all the kindness that You have done with Your servant...

(Genesis 32:11)

That word קָטֹנְתִּי - Katonti - sums up how I feel. I don't know if the translation "unworthy" does it justice, but it comes close. I feel small, I feel humbled by the greatness, the selflessness, the heroism of people like Arnon Zamora, and the thousands of soldiers alongside whom he was buried today. I sit here at my computer and do my day job, learn Torah, write books, spend time with my family, and post articles on my blog. And they fought and died so that I could do this.

May their memory be blessed.

I envy their place in Olam HaBa. And I cry because however much Torah I learn, however many mitzvos I do, I don't know how I will ever feel that I earned their sacrifice.


1 Kommentar

Ze'ev Landau
Ze'ev Landau
09. Juni

ישר כוח שאול!

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