The 11th Floor

A Perpsective Overlooking Jerusalem, Israeli Life, and Talmud Torah

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Take your son, the one you love, Yitzhak.

Tonight there was a televised memorial for Yizchak Rabin. With his assassin Yigal Amir in the news so much lately here (Amir won conjugal rights with his wife so that they can have children together), it was wonderful to see time dedicated to Rabin. It was not only a wonderful memorial for a decent man, but a window into the Israel soul. Here are some of the things you would have seen if you had watched with us.

• A chorus of the most average people looking you can imagine, yet voices and harmony of professional caliber.

• Simple accompaniment- piano, a few strings, drums, bass. Simple 3 camera coverage- no computer graphics, no complex lighting. A simple stage with a few decorations and a picture of Rabin.

• The occasional microphone too loud.

• In the audience and on stage, dress that is informal, even thought this is a televised memorial service.

• A simple arrangement of red flowers and a lone memorial candle.

• The head of the navy (does Israel have admirals?), sitting with his arm around his wife, both swaying in their seats to the song.

• The Audience full of the most important faces in Israel society – not the Paris Hiltons of Israel, , but soldiers, families, and poets.

• One man asleep next to his wife. A solider asleep next to his friend.

• Generals of the highest ranks, and near them young paratroopers and air force officers, and trainees of no rank at all.

• A family of children and grandchildren sit to remember their grandfather.

• Dan Chalutz, the Ramtka”l gives a formal speech on behalf of the IDF. After the formal speech, he leans forward towards the family- he said it was his honor to stand and speak to them.

• Almost everyone knows the words to each song. Some are crying, Others are holding back the tears.

• People of every age, and of many colors


• The official Army Chorus, each one of the young men and women talented and charismatic enough to be superstar in their own right.

• Rabin’s daughter spoke of his dreams- and how he loved to sing. It was moving, it was sad, and it lasted no more than 45 seconds.

• The closing song: “Shir L’shalom,” the song Rabin had sung just a few minutes before his death (he died with the lyrics on him) – this time an arrangement that went from blues to disco with soldiers dancing in the wings.

This was not a slick Hollywood production; only the most basic of elements went into the memorial. There was a simple large photo of Rabin, a few musicians from the IDF, and a few flags. If not for the quality of the music and participants, it could have been confused for a high school assembly. The voices and the tears, however, make clear that this is something remarkable. It was intrinsically Israeli in its informality- and in the tears shed as people sang along to songs about wars past and hopes for peace. It was a wonderful act of memory. And we need to remember.

We need to remember that Rabin was murdered by many men and women. Only one of them was imprisoned.

Each called him a traitor, and hid their hatred and cowardice behind words of Torah and Halacha. They called for his death and we did nothing. For the sake of the Holy Torah alone we should have acted then and called them out to shame and catcalls, letting them know that they shamed the Torah and the name of God by justifying murder. For if the Sanhedrins of our greatest sages found one execution in a lifetime one too many, how did these people have the wisdom to know who was worthy of death and who was worthy of life? How did we let them sit on the throne of Judgment in place of the Omnipresent One? Because they were heads of communities and Roshei Yeshiva, people of wealth and people of power, and we did not raise our voices against them.

May God bring comfort to the family of Yitzchak Rabin. He was a decent man, our grandfather, our friend, and a liberator of Jerusalem. Rabin was murdered by many men and women. Only one of them was imprisoned and we let the rest of his murderers go free. May God bring comfort to the family of Yitzchak Rabin, but may God also bring Judgment to his murderers, who sit even today in smug self-satisfaction, pleased with his death.

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