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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

13 Elul - Remember this day

Today was supposed to be the day of Nava Applebaum's wedding to Chanan Sand. Instead, Chanan buried her today, after she was killed last night by a Muslim terrorist. At the funeral, Chanan placed the wedding ring on her finger which he was so eagerly waiting to give her at their chuppah.

Having stood at my own chuppah only two-and-a-half weeks ago, I felt tremendous pain when I read this story. I hugged my wife for a long time and cried, not wanting to leave her to go to work. And I continue to cry as I write this post. I thought of the kinah which we say on Tisha B'av - Eili Tzion v'areha k'mo isha btzireha, v'livtulat chagurat sak al baal n'ureha - Weep, Zion and her cities, like a woman in labor, and like the virgin bride, clothed in sackcloth, mourning for the husband of her youth. What joy is greater than the face of the groom as he leaves his chuppah? And what pain is greater than that of the same groom, mourning for the marriage which will never be consumated?

I also thought of the story of Yiftach's daughter, in Shoftim 11. When she finds out that her father accidentally designated her as a sacrifice, she goes with her friends to the hills for two months to mourn for her virginity. The focus of the mourning was not just that she would die young, but that she would die without knowing the joy of marriage. The story ends by recording that this pain and mourning was so strong, that it became a custom is Israel that every year, the daughters of Israel would mourn for Yiftach's daughter for four days.

We don't know when these days were, and the tradition is lost. But the pain is still there, and every year on 13 Elul, I will cry for Nava Applebaum, whose anniversary on this day became her yahrtzeit. I hope that you will join me, and next year and the year after, when Yasir Arafat will continue to sit safely in Ramallah, and Israeli leaders will continue to wait for Palestinian leaders to start "fighting terrorism," we will not forget, and we will continue Chanan's bitter cry for the lost bride of his youth.

"Devai haser, v'gam charon, v'az ilem b'shir yaron" - May pain and tragedy subside, and the mute will sing with joy.


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