“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
A Wednesday ceremony in Jerusalem returned to the Western (Wailing) Wall the same Torah scroll that was carried to the Wall at its liberation during the 1967 Six Day War.
At that historic event, the shofar sounded and the first Jewish prayer service was held since the 1948 War of Independence.
At Wednesday’s event, sponsored by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces organization, the scroll was carried into the plaza by the Israeli chief of staff, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and three Israel Defense Forces (IDF) paratroopers.
Also attending the ceremony were Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, the nation’s two chief rabbis and Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinovich.
The family of Baruch Shapira, who fell in the 1948 War of Independence, donated the scroll to the IDF in 1967 in Shapira’s memory. They were also invited to attend Wednesday’s ceremony. (Ynet)
As well, 65 additional silver-cased Torah scrolls from around the world and ten more from Jewish organizations in Israel commemorated the soldiers and civilians who were killed in last summer’s counter terror war against Hamas and allied terror groups in Gaza and Israel.
“It was for a good reason that the Jewish people chose the Torah scroll to memorialize the names of our dear ones,” Rivlin said. “The sheets of parchment pulled taut between the wooden poles tell of our eternal identification with this book. The Torah was with the Jewish people during good times and bad. The Torah led us as we wandered through exile and redemption.”
“These Torah scrolls are the symbol of a people who never forget their loved ones and who owe them an eternal debt,” Rivlin said.
The Torah (the first five books of the Bible) represents a marriage contract between the Jewish People and God Himself. To produce such a sacred item as a Torah scroll can take a year and cost up to $30,000, depending on the quality of the material used and the experience of the scribe. Donating a scroll in memory of a loved one is considered a high honor.
The three top rabbis, along with a contingent of other rabbinic clergy, also attended a Torah-dedication ceremony on Tuesday, in memory of Eyal Yifrah, 19, and Gil-ad Sha’ar and Naftali Frenkel, both 16—the three teens kidnapped and murdered just prior to last year’s war.
“The symbol of the three boys was the unity of kol am Yisrael (the entire nation of Israel) all this year and especially all the time of the kidnapping,” said Ofir Sha’ar, father of Gil-ad, to Arutz Sheva. “The most special place to show this unity is here in the Kotel, where everyone can feel belonging.”
Following Wednesday’s memorial ceremony, the scroll returned to its place at the entrance of the bureau of the chief of staff. The remaining scrolls were to be distributed to IDF bases and memorial sites throughout Israel.
The event was conceived a year ago by Kesher Lanetzah (Bond for Eternity).
In addition to recruiting the donations of the 75 scrolls for the fallen soldiers and civilians, the organization also sought a Torah for each of the eight IDF brigades who served in the Gaza operation. (JP)
Despite intentions to honor the fallen, some of the parents of the soldiers were unable to enter the Western Wall Plaza because of overcrowding. (Ynet)
Yad Lebanim (Memorial for the Sons—an association for families of fallen soldiers), which helped organize the event, said in a statement, “The ceremony was meant to honor and commemorate all the soldiers who died defending Israel. It is unfortunate that due to security issues, crowding and limitations on the part of the Israel Police, some of the parents experienced discomfort.
“Yad Lebanim and its chairman embrace the families on this special evening that paid respect to the fallen in a historical and significant ceremony for all Jewish people.”