When we were invited to Shabbat lunch at our Rabbi’s house, I expected I would learn something new that day: an insight into the weekly Torah reading perhaps, or a custom I wasn’t aware of. Maybe I would learn a new blessing or a song, and I would definitely learn more about the Rabbi and his lovely family, who moved to our community less than a year ago.
Yesterday I did nothing. And by nothing, I mean nothing. I was unmotivated, uninspired, and–unless seasoning the salmon we had for dinner counts for something–woefully unaccomplished. Smoked sea salt, lemon zest, plenty of dill.
Days like that are few, if ever, for me. Not the unmotivated and uninspired part, I’m sure that happens to the most of us but we keep on keeping on. What was different about yesterday was that I was also remarkably unscheduled. No appointments. No meetings. I pretended we were not out of dog food or dangerously low on laundry detergent, so no errands. The day shone up at me from my iPhone, strangely and uncomfortably blank.
The images are gruesome. Heartwrenching. So much blood. I don’t want to see. And for a while I don’t. Not really. I scroll quickly from one post to the next. Four killed in terror attack. Har Nof. Rabbis. Synagogue. Even as my heart is rushing and the tears are falling, my fingers slow down. To read. And to see. To really see.
A blood-soaked tallit (prayer shawl) crouches in crumpled horror. The red-splattered bookshelves stand feebly by. They are a quiet, ueseless protection to the forever stained siddurim (prayer books) they hold. Kehillat Bnei Torah Synagogue is a bloodbath.
“No. No. Nonononono,” I whisper, now unable to stop the onslaught of image after horrific image.
It’s the one of the bloodied tefillin-wrapped arm that stops me cold. His lifeless hand is curled around the ends of his tefillin, and his tallit is blemished with the hatred of others. Whose arm is it?