Words of Truth from the Land of Israel 

A mother in Israel can teach the truth to the entire Western world.

Last week, I paid a shiva call to the Buskila family in Kiryat Gat.  After eight months of uncertainty, former hostage Amit Buskila was finally laid to rest. On my way there, I heard on the radio that the international court in the Hague was seeking to arrest Prime Minister Netanyahu for war crimes, that the European Union had expressed its condolences for the death of the Iranian president, and that the UN had marked his death with a moment of silence. It is, indeed, a topsy-turvy world.

But Ilana Buskila, Amit’s mother, isn’t confused at all. That is what she told me:

"Every day of life is a precious gift. I was privileged to have a gift, my Amit, for 28 years. She was an innocent girl who was murdered by Amalek. I believe that Amit was protecting us, protecting me. The terrorists would have reached Kiryat Gat if they hadn’t been delayed for so long at the Nova music festival.  

“Amit was murdered just because she was a Jew. Any Jew who was there would have been murdered. A rabbi explained to me today that she has risen to the highest level of heaven, as a martyr of the Jewish people. Her last words on the phone with her uncle were: 'Shema Yisrael.’ That was her last will and testament.

“For eight months, we didn’t know that these were her last words; we thought she was still alive. We had an additional eight months of strength, of prayer, of unity, of speaking about her to the entire the world. There was nothing we didn’t do on her behalf. People transformed their entire lives for the sake of Amit Esther bat Ilana, and people will continue to do good deeds in her memory.

 “We consider it a great chesed that her body was recovered and returned to us, and are deeply grateful to all the people involved in this operation.

 “Immediately after Simchat Torah, Amit’s friend went back to the area where the festival took place to look for her. She didn’t find Amit but, to her horror, she witnessed the atrocities that were perpetrated there. She filmed what she saw and her documentation contributed to the New York Times’ investigation into the violence that occurred during the attack.

 “The only moral thing to do now is to erase this evil from the face of the earth. They are absolute evil, and my daughter was all light, pure gold".

  thousand international jurists and foreign diplomats will never achieve Ilana’s moral clarity and pure faith. In the end, this truth will prevail.

Remember: There is evil in the world 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”l did not view the video released last week by Hamas showing the kidnapping of five female soldiers from the Nahal Oz base.  He did not watch the UN observe a moment of silence in memory of the president of Iran.  Nor did he witness the International Court of Justice in the Hague seeking the arrest of both Israel’s elected officials and Hamas leader Sinwar for war crimes.  

However, many years ago, he eloquently addressed the necessity of recognizing human evil and confronting it directly.

“We in the West have forgotten the concept of an enemy,” he wrote. “We believe that for every problem there is a solution, for every conflict there is a resolution. In the real world, however, not everyone is a liberal democrat. An enemy is ‘someone willing to die in order to kill you.’ 

“This explains the significance of an unusual command in the Torah: ‘Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt… You shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!’

 “We thought that collective evil was as extinct as the Amalekites. Evil was then, not now. Then came two World Wars and the Holocaust, the worst crime of man against man. Today, the great danger is terror. 

“Evil never dies. We are commanded to remember, not for the sake of the past but for the sake of the future; and not for revenge but the opposite: a world free of revenge and other forms of violence.  

“A society of rational actors can sometimes believe that the world is full of rational actors with whom one can negotiate peace. It is not always the case! 

“Rarely was a biblical message so relevant to the future of the West and of freedom itself. Freedom depends on our ability to remember and, whenever necessary, confront the face of Amalek throughout history. Sometimes there may be no alternative but to fight evil and defeat it.”

Thoughts on the Upcoming Wedding Season

Bat-Chen Weil, a pre-marital counselor for brides, wrote me the following message on Lag B’Omer, the day that the summer wedding season officially begins:

“I cannot help but get excited whenever a bride-to-be comes to me for guidance. With sparkling eyes and a fluttering heart, she is making the triumphant statement of every engaged couple: ‘There is love in the world. There is consolation and there is hope. We believe in life, in marriage, in children, in commitment, in the future.’

“With the breaking of the glass under the chuppah, we recall everything that is broken in our world — the victims of terror and war, the wounded, the hostages, the evacuees. Our heart is with all of them. But our Sages say that whoever makes a bride and groom rejoice is considered as if they have rebuilt one of the ruins of Jerusalem. These days, perhaps we can say that each couple is contributing to the rebuilding of the ruins of Be’eri, Nahal Oz, or one of the other devastated communities that will be built anew.

“Most of us will be invited to weddings in the coming days. In my view, it is important to attend these celebrations with a feeling that despite our enormous pain over the loss of life since October 7th, we are also creating new life. Mazal tov.”

‘Holy Stickers’ Around the World

Week ago, I wrote about the “holy stickers” that can be found all over Israel, featuring statements from those who lost their lives since Oct. 7 next to their photo. Today I received a message from someone who was moved to see these stickers as well as posters of the hostages on the wall surrounding the ancient Jewish cemetery in Prague. “Unlike elsewhere in Europe, here no one is taking them down; to the contrary, the Czech Replublic supports Israel and is not afraid to show it publicly,” she wrote.

The Real News

The attached photo shows thousands of French Jews crowding the recent Aliyah fairs held last week in Paris, Marseilles and Lyon.  Some 1,500 people registered for the events, but in the end almost 3,000 showed up! Students, young couples and families are uprooting themselves from all that is familiar and putting the process in motion to settle in Israel. Which just goes to show you that the daily headlines often conceal the deeper, more significant news. Welcome to our dear brothers and sisters from France!

Wall outside Prague cemetery with posters of hostages

Sivan speaking with Ilana, mother of Amit Buskila, a"h, H'yd

Aliyah Fair in France_2

Aliyah Fair in France_1

Wall outside Prague cemetery with stickers of Israelis who lost their lives