A Tribute to a Young Life Cut Short

missing-israeli-teenagers-naftali-frenkel-gilad-shaar-eyal-yifrachEnglishThough the tragic kidnap and murder of the three Israeli teenagers Gilda Shaar, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Frenkel seem like ages away, overloaded as we are with images and news from the ongoing war with Hamas, the following two amazing vignettes of Gilad Shaar reached my inbox. They show how even at 16, this young man had earned his place among those of loving hearts and good deeds, someone with ambitions of empathy and lovingkindness.

Rabbanit Mizrachi was at a women’s convention last week. On the stage was a group called “Playback”. They asked members of the audience to share stories which they would then act out.

One young woman got up .This is her story:
“I work as a resource room teacher with children who have learning disabilities. A few years ago a young boy began taking lessons in my resource room. I could not figure out what had brought him to seek my help. He clearly had no difficulty with his lessons and did well on all his tests.

Yet, time after time he consistently came to my resource room for his lessons. I was determined to find his area of weakness but, as hard as I tried, I could not find any type of learning disability or difficulty.

Finally, out of frustration, I took him aside and told him I could not continue giving him lessons. It was a waste of his time and his parents hard earned money and he clearly did not need any sort of remedial help.

The boy turned to me and said, “I will tell you why I am here but I am asking you not to tell anyone else.

I have a friend with a learning disability. Our teacher told him that he needed remedial classes in the resource room. He was so embarrassed to be singled out as having to go to your classes.

I told him that it was no big deal and that I also take remedial classes. That is why I come to you- so that my friend will not be embarrassed”.

The boy who came to my class so as not to embarrass his friend was Gilad Shaar הי”ד. He was 10 years old at the time!

As we enter the difficult period of the three weeks, let us be inspired by Gilad and the other pure neshamos to look at those around us with an ayin tova – to go out of our “comfort zone” to help others , and to give that little extra of ourselves to bring joy to our fellow Jews.

That was Gilad at 10. By 13, he had become aware of his ambitions in life:

FROM Rabbi Grylak’s Mishpacha column last week

Yisroel Nuret, Rav Yitzchok Dovid Grossman’s assistant (renowned rav of Migdal HaEmek etc.) related the following on the Israeli radio station Kol Chai:

“About three years ago, I got a phone call. ‘Hello’ the voice said, ‘I’m a13 year old boy, and I’d like to meet with Rav Grossman for five minutes.’ I explained to the boy that the Rav is a very busy man, and I wasn’t sure I could arrange a meeting for him. I couldn’t see what huge need a young boy would have to meet with the Rav. .. Then the boy’s father called, and he said to me. ‘Listen, my friend, my son is celebrating his bar mitzvah soon. We bought him a tallis and tefillin, and we asked him what present he would like, expecting him to ask for a new bicycle, or maybe a special trip. But he insisted, “Ima, abba, I don’t want any presents except for one thing. I want to meet Rav Grossman. That’s the biggest present I could get.”

So I gave him an appointment, and the boy all excited, went in with his father to Rav Grossman’s office. It was scheduled to be a five minute meeting, but it went on for an hour and forty minutes.
These are the questions the boy asked the Rav: Kevod Harav, how does a person merit doing chesed? How can one do chesed at a high level? And how can one be mekadesh Sheim Shomayim (sanctify God’s name publicly)?

Stunned, the Rav explained to the boy how to do chesed in our generation. and then the boy asked, “How does one merit sanctifying the Name of HaKadosh Baruch Hu?”

The boy’s name was Gil-Ad Shaer Hy’d from Talmon – one of the 3 kedoshim who was murdered by the wild beasts of the desert.”

I thank Rabbi Eliyahu Safran for sharing these with me.

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