Joe's Blog

FROM 7th of ADAR to OCTOBER 7th

The Hebrew month of Adar II (which began a few days ago) traditionally ushers in a season of joy. During this this month we celebrate the holiday of Purim and a month later Passover and other spring holidays. Whatever our situation might be in life, we are reminded not to worry….but to be happy (with apologies to Bobby McFerrin).

A curious exception to the mood of the season is the 7th day of Adar II (coinciding with Sunday, March 17, 2024), which is the day on which we mark the anniversary of the death of Moses, Our Teacher, Moshe Rabbeinu. However, as it says at the end of the book of Deuteronomy (34:6), “…no one knows his burial place to this day.” One of the outcomes of this situation was that Moses’s grave did not become a place of pilgrimage or worship.

Soon after the creation of the State of Israel, the Rabbinate of the IDF chose the 7th of Adar as the memorial day for fallen soldiers whose places of burial (and often the exact dates of their deaths) are unknown. What a wonderful way of connecting an ancient tradition with modern circumstances!

The National Military Cemetery at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem has a special section for these soldiers, with appropriate “headstones”….but, of course, without their graves. It’s aptly called “The Garden of the Missing in Action,” arranged by time periods.

Among those memorialized in this section of the cemetery are Aaron Aaronsohn (a member of the pre-State NILI clandestine team that spied on Turkey for the British; he was killed in a plane crash in 1919)

Aaron Aaronsohn

and the famous Israeli spy Eli Cohen (who was hanged in Damascus in 1965).

Eli Cohen (1924-1965)

The cemetery also lists a number of soldiers whose place of burial became known during the years.

In the last 5+ months there have been scores of fallen soldiers – not to mention citizens – who were killed on October 7, and in its aftermath, whose remains have not recovered, even though they have been confirmed dead. While some may never be found, it’s certain that many bodies are being held by Hamas in Gaza. Our hearts go out to the families who have to live without adequate closure, knowing that their loved ones have been killed, but having no gravesite to visit or to care for.

We pray that all of the hostages will be returned to Israeli immediately, and that the remains of all those soldiers and citizens who were murdered be buried honorably in the Land of Israel.