Shalom Yochai, the son of Rav Oury Cherki, was murdered in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem Wednesday night, April 15, 2015 – the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. Below is the text of the eulogy delivered by Rav Cherki at his son’s funeral.
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“Behold, the messengers cried out outside – angels of peace wept bitterly” [Isaiah 33:7].”
” ‘They say, Peace, peace.’ But there is no peace.” [Jeremiah 8:11].
(Note that the name “Shalom” means “peace.”)
For you, my son, the situation is not difficult. It is not difficult because your noble soul is rising directly through all the levels of heaven, straight to the King of Peace. Not only did you merit being one of the holy martyrs whom no other creature can stand up to, so much so that we violate the usual rule that prohibits delivering a eulogy during the month of Nissan, you even earned a special merit in the very act of sacrificing your life. The doctors who treated you testified that without a doubt you saved the life of the young woman who was next to you. The author of “Eifah Sheleimah,” a commentary on the “Etz Chaim,” said that even though today we cannot offer sacrifices in the Temple and we do not have direct inspiration by the Divine presence of the Shechina (which was true for his day), by sacrificing ourselves in order to sanctify the Holy Name we can mend situations that even our forefathers were not able to mend.
You had a lofty soul. We cannot forget the value system that you took into account in making decisions. I remember that when you were about to be conscripted into the IDF and they suggested that you join as one of the founders of the first Hesder unit in the Navy, you said that at first you did not want to agree because in the Navy you would be spending time outside of the boundaries of the Land of Israel – and then, how would you have the merit to become a prophet? Such are the deliberations of very unique people, considerations that are relevant to the nation of Israel as a whole. Why in the end did you agree to go into the Navy? It was because they told you that if not enough religious candidates agreed to join, they would not establish a Hesder program in the Navy at all. You said, “My personal benefit must be set aside in favor of the good of the nation.” This is a worthy decision that is the mark of a great man.
Your name is so appropriate for you – everybody around you was always making peace. Wherever you appeared, if there was ever any tension, you made peace. You had the merit that as your soul left your body your entire family was there, and they were able to recite with you the passage of the uniqueness of G-d and the Thirteen Divine Traits. You remained a pillar of both solidity and freshness, like Adino the Eznite who would make himself flexible like a worm when studying Torah but would toughen himself like a block of wood when he went to war. You were like King David, red-haired with beautiful eyes, power with sensitivity, taking care of everybody else before worrying about yourself. Shalom, you were one of the gang, you had a sense of humor, you knew how to shoot arrows. Just a week ago you went to practice shooting from a bow that you had made yourself. You were like Jonathan, the son of King Saul, who also trained to be strong by shooting a bow and arrow. You were killed in the same area and the same fields where Jonathan used to train, near the Hill of G-d.
The love of G-d beat in your breast with all its might. Your love of G-d led to enhancement of natural love which existed beforehand. You loved the Torah with all your heart and all your soul. You studied in a way that did not attract any attention. You did not broadcast your abilities, but you were a true Torah scholar. You studied in two different yeshivot before and after your conscription, and again your decisions were guided by exalted considerations. You did not choose a yeshiva because it had a pleasant atmosphere or because of physical comforts. In the first yeshiva where you studied, you said, “I am going there in order to become studious.” And about the second one you said, “I go there in order to become a servant of G-d.” You had a unified approach to all the different sections of the Torah. The love of Israel – you served as a refuge for anybody who had a need. Love of the Land of Israel – you knew how to make the land relevant for every person, and you were intimately familiar with all the trails and pathways in the land.
You belong to the World to Come, not as one who has “a portion in the World to Come” but as a child of the World to Come. It is written explicitly in the tractate of Taanit that people who have a sense of humor, those who make others laugh, belong to the World to Come. But at the same time, together with your captivating smile you lived with constant awareness. You always maintained in the background an awareness of the horrible Holocaust. I know how much the subject of the Holocaust was constantly on your mind, how much Holocaust Memorial Day meant to you. Whenever you were in serious surroundings and you began to fear that you might burst out laughing, you reminded yourself of the Holocaust and remained serious. It was not mere coincidence that you departed from us on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. After 2,000 years when our family wandered around the world, ever since the destruction of the Second Temple, the day came when we returned to this land. We came not to be buried or to be murdered but to be planted anew. We expected you to be part of the generation to be planted, but instead the Name of G-d was desecrated by your murder. You were killed by young forces of evil, as contemptible as can be, which do not know how to judge true value. Young men of Israel die because of the sin of desecration of the Holy Name, and the way to fix this failure is by countering the situation and sanctifying the Holy Name. This sanctification will be a result of our labors – our personal labor and the labor of the government, which must learn the proper way to plant the nation of Israel in its Land.
Shalom was 26 years old. “You are sons of your G-d” [Deuteronomy 14:1] – the numerical value of the name of G-d is 26. Shalom was one of the glorious sons of the nation. Your wondrous soul continues to glow with greater and greater light. “Weep for the one who goes, for he will never return” [Jeremiah 22:10]. The sages tell us that this refers to one who is taken away without any children. We must continue on Shalom’s path and build what he was not able to build, by acting as his children, to build with renewed and wondrous strengths of life. “My soul had dwelt for a long time with those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak they are aiming for war.” [Psalms 120:6-7]. Our family will gain in strength from your strength, Shalom.
And you, Shalom: go in peace, and rest in peace, until you rise up once again to your fate at the end of days.