The proper form of mourning in a Jewish home is silence. That is, if the mourner does not have anything to say, those who come to offer condolences should sit there silently waiting. There are not many people who can achieve this. I have only seen it a few times.
Actually, I can only think of one right now. It was when Rabbi Yitzchak Twersky came to pay condolences to my friend who had lost her mother. He sat there silently. She sat there uncomfortably silent. Her brothers, who were not observant, were schmoozing with their friends and family in the other room. I can only imagine how uncomfortable she was while, at the same time, in awe that he would come.
This Rabbi Twersky was the father of Rabbi Mosheh Twersky, one of the men murdered today in Jerusalem. They were murdered while praying not on the Temple Mount, but in an area far away from the “contested” site. It was very reminiscent of the Mercaz HaRav massacre from 2008, when an Arab entered the yeshiva with only one thing on his agenda–kill as many Jews as possible.
Here’s what Yishai Schwartz says at the New Republic:
There is irony in the latest attack. The synagogue was in Har Nof, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in West Jerusalem. The worshippers lived in internationally recognized Israel and almost certainly never served in the army. They would never approach the Temple Mount, the holy site where recent visits by Jews have supposedly triggered the latest wave of Palestinian violence, because they believe that God’s law forbids it. In other words, these worshippers should be among the least offensive to Palestinians.
Rarely has it been clearer: these men were killed simply because they were Jews living in the land of Israel. That they were rabbis killed at prayer is a potent symbol of the attack’s senselessness, but their orthodoxy also serves as evidence of how utterly self-defeating Palestinian terrorism is.
Tarek Fatah in the Toronto Sun states a very similar line, but provides a more powerful connection.
As a Muslim who has spoken all my life for the rights of the Palestinians to a state of their own, I was left holding my head in despair and shame.
Just an hour earlier, I had read news of my co-religionists killing four Christians in random acts of revenge in the Kenyan city of Mombasa.
What have we become, I asked myself?
As for the reaction of many Muslims in the West, who woke up to see another atrocity committed in the name of Islam, expect their voices to be channelled through the standard script of many Islamic groups, who will come forward with cliché-ridden denunciations of the act and condemnation of terrorism.
However, few will admit the atrocities we now see every few weeks are part of the Islamic tradition of jihad and intrinsic to the belief of how Jews should be punished if they are engaged in warfare with Muslims.
Few will, or have, renounced the doctrine of armed jihad as inapplicable in the era of nation states and international law.
If Islamic leaders are unwilling to critically examine and question the authenticity of the texts they hold sacred, they had better be prepared to see the world react with contempt, if not an unpleasant backlash.
I will let the silence of the Arab world in condemning this violence contrast with what must be the silence of the Twersky family in their mourning.