The following is the eulogy for Gil-ad Shaar, delivered at his funeral by request of the family which was originally published today in The Times of Israel:
Today we are burying a child. To bury a child is unnatural; parents are not supposed to march in a funeral procession for their children; grandparents are not supposed to shed tears over their grandchild’s grave. It’s supposed to be the opposite. When we bury our deceased elderly, we cry over the lives they had lived – over the many memories they have left behind. When we bury a child, we cry over the lives they haven’t lived. Today we are burying a wedding; we’re burying the first breath of a new born child. Today we are burying an entire Shabbat table that will never come into being. And so let’s remember every second that we are burying today a child.
Today we are burying a child who could have been any one of ours and therefore he is one of ours – all of us. We aren’t burying a “settler”; we aren’t burying a soldier who fell in the never ending struggle for this land of ours. This is not the funeral of a particular population sub-group or “sector”; it isn’t one particular group that is grieving this loss. We need one another on this day. We need one another. We don’t need anger; we don’t need yet another division among us; we don’t need a competition over whose rage is holier or whose hate is purer. Rage is not holy. Hate can never be pure. I can certainly understand all those demanding revenge; how could I not understand when I share those same sentiments – when each and every one of us feels this way.
But today, at this funeral, in the presence of this family, we need love. We need to speak in one language. We need to rediscover the paths that connect all of us. If in fact we seek to punish our enemies, there is no greater punishment than for them to behold this sight and to see that nothing can divide us. If we want to take revenge on these murderers, and we find them and punish them, the true revenge will be the ability to transcend the differences among us and to embrace one another, despite all of our shortcomings and the disagreements among us. If indeed we want to sanctify Gil-ad’s memory, we need to choose what to sanctify: the hostility towards the other or the love for each other – that which divides us, or that which binds us; the suspicion or the trust among ourselves.
Children don’t write wills, so we must therefore write Gil-ad’s will. If the family and those assembled here permit me, I would submit that we begin the writing of this will with the words of the Holy Ari:
I hereby take upon myself the commandment of loving thy neighbour as thyself and I hereby love each and every child of Israel as my own soul and my own being.
May Gil-ad’s memory be a blessing.
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