Shahar Dauber, was a 20 year old Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Paratrooper when he died in Gaza on July 23rd, 2014.
Before he went to fight, Dauber left a letter behind for his loved ones. He concluded his message with the words:
“I ask only one thing - that you will remember me”.
This past Wednesday, Israel commemorated “Remembrance Day” for 23,646 fallen IDF soldiers like Shahar who gave their lives defending our people.
The number is staggering. So many young lives lost to their families and to our people. Thief names and faces their warmth and their sacrifice. So much pain and suffering to their bereaved families and friends.
What can we do for them? Is there anything we can do?
King Solomon writes “And the living shall take it to heart”. So powerful, so wise. His message is very clear.
This is our duty to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could go on living as proud Jews in our homeland and beyond. We must never forget that we are here today only as a result of those who gave their lives in order to protect others. It is incumbent upon us therefore not just to remember their names and heroic stories but also to make similar sacrifices in our own lives as well.
There is a beautiful verse in Samuel “Jonathan said to him (David), “Tomorrow will be the new moon; and you will be remembered when your seat remains vacant. In Hebrew the words for “remembered” and “vacant” are etymologically related.
On a simple level the meaning is obvious. Human beings tend to remember things that are missing, much more acutely then things that are not. On a deeper level the mystics explain that those people who have humility are more alive and real than those who don’t.
The lesson for “we the living” might be challenging, but it is simple.
23,646 young man and women of the IDF sacrificed their lives so that we can continue to live on. It is our duty therefore to remember their names, read their stories, and be inspired by their heroism. But most importantly to make sacrifices in our own lives.
To move beyond our comfort zones when it comes to protecting the Jewish people and Israel.
To forgo a selfish indulgence for the sake of helping another Jew.
To strengthen our conviction in the right of the Jewish people to its homeland irrespective of the challenges.
To demonstrate the courage needed to defend that right.
Let us “the living” not only remember them, “let us also take it to heart”.
This is the only way to truly honour the memory of those who paid the ultimate price.