Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Miracles every Day

On Thursday, 9 Cheshvan/October 22, a soldier who lives in Beit Shemesh and commutes every day to his army base failed to show up at the bus stop on Rechov Yechezkel Hanovi at the usual time. Something had thrown his schedule off – and little did he know that that “something” had also averted a terror attack on a dreadful scale. Two terrorists had been watching the area for several days and had made note of the soldier's daily routine. On that morning, they planned to attack him, to steal his weapon, and then to enter the nearby shul and perpetrate a massive slaughter.

When the soldier failed to show up, the terrorists decided to use the knives in their possession instead. Despite the failure of their initial plan, they still hoped to achieve what they viewed as maximal results, and they came up with the satanic idea of boarding a school bus filled with children. As soon as they were aboard the bus, they reasoned, they could murder one child after another. The bus opened its doors and they prepared to board it, but the quick-thinking driver locked them out and ignored their pleas and threats. The two terrorists were left outside and set out to find one or two Jews to kill. They did not realize that they had already been spotted by a number of alert citizens and the police had already been summoned. True, the police could have arrived on the scene sooner, but they did not. Even while the two terrorists were waiting for the soldier who did not show up, a number of onlookers had called the police to report the presence of two suspicious-looking individuals. The amount of time it took for the police to arrive on the scene was inordinately long.

The two terrorists, residents of the village of Tzurif, waited outside the shul, hoping to attack when a large crowd of mispallelim emerged. Since it was a Thursday, though, with a lengthy Tachanun and krias haTorah, their plans were unexpectedly delayed. The crowds emerged from the shul only after the terrorists had been neutralized. Unfortunately, the pair did manage to attack one avreich, who suffered from moderate wounds.

In summary: The soldier was delayed, the bus full of children locked its doors, and the mispallelim were kept in shul longer than usual. There was one wounded victim in Beit Shemesh — and three unmistakable miracles.

Some Attacks Are Thwarted in the Planning Stage

Every single day of our lives is a miracle. Every breath we take is miraculous, but we have grown used to it. These days, the Jews of Eretz Yisroel sense that every day brings undeniable miracles with it. We don’t even know how many planned attacks are thwarted, just as the posuk exhorts all the nations to praise Hashem because they know even better than we do what they have plotted against us, only for us to be miraculously saved. Our security services are not in a rush to report on every terror attack that was prevented or every plot that was exposed. They do not wish to sow fear among the populace, nor do they wish to give extremists added motivation for revenge, and there is a certain right-wing element that is liable to perpetrate revenge attacks.

In order to understand to what extent we are living on miracles, one need do no more than peruse the daily newspapers. Take, for example, the issue of the Hebrew Yated Ne’eman from the 15th of Cheshvan. A headline running the entire width of a page announces, “Palestinian Youths with Axe and Knife Planning to Murder Jews Caught in Center of Yerushalayim.” The article relates that a police officer on his way to his post noticed two Arab youths who aroused his suspicions. He watched them and saw that they were monitoring Jewish passersby, and then he decided to arrest them. They made no effort to resist; they were simply in shock. A knife and an axe were found in their possession.

The same newspaper relates that two Palestinian women were caught at the Me’oras Hamachpeilah with knives in their purses. There is no need to guess what they were planning to do, and there is no explanation as to why they didn’t carry out their intentions. They were truthful about their intentions, telling the police officers who arrested them, “We came to liberate Palestine.”

On the same day, more incidents took place: Two Israeli Arabs were arrested after plotting to murder a Jew in Migdal Ha’Emek, and a terrorist attempted to stab a soldier at the entrance to the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida in Chevron. In the latter incident, the terrorist was shot dead. This is an overview of a single day of tragedies that did not happen and terror attacks that were thwarted before they could be carried out, seemingly by “chance.” But “chance,” as we know, is nothing more than a manifestation of Hashem’s kindness. One can only imagine what could have happened, especially considering that there were other incidents that the media was not allowed to publicize.

And that is not all. The same newspaper relates that on the same day, a soldier was moderately wounded in a stabbing attack in Gush Etzion; the two terrorists were shot dead. Once again, it was an incident that could have ended in terrible tragedy. The newspaper also reports on the condition of the Jewish youth from Pisgat Ze’ev who was stabbed two weeks earlier, on Erev Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, by two teenage Arab murderers (one of whom was described by Mahmoud Abbas as an “innocent youth” who was “shot dead by IDF soldiers”). The victim had initially been categorized as clinically dead, but, bechasdei Hashem, he has now been released from Hadassah Hospital in good condition. The other victim wounded in the incident, who arrived in the hospital seriously injured, was discharged a week earlier.

When the Jewish boy was first brought to the hospital, the director of the surgical department at Hadassah told the press that he was in critical condition. “He arrived here clinically dead, with zero blood pressure and a very weak pulse. We discovered a tear in an artery.” That doctor, incidentally, is named Ahmed Eid. Yes, he is an Arab. In any event, both the boy and his fellow stabbing victim have now been released.

Isn’t that a miracle?

Another newspaper headline, this one from October 29, practically screams, “Four Terrorists Caught Planning to Attack Religious Jews and Soldiers with Machine Guns and Explosives.” For any arrest of that nature, we must be extremely grateful to Hashem.

The Bezeq Terrorist Waited for the End of the Shiur

The day after the attack in Pisgat Ze’ev was Tuesday, October 13, Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, which was marked by a string of attacks. Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan is a special time, marking the beginning of the winter zeman in yeshivos and kollelim. But on that day, Yerushalayim suffered two heavy blows, as did the city of Raanana. In the latter city, which was unaccustomed to terror of any kind, the residents were in shock. There were four terror attacks that day, two in Yerushalayim and two in Raanana. The two attacks in Yerushalayim claimed the lives of three people, leaving two more victims severely wounded. One of the incidents took place in the neighborhood of Armon Hanetziv, where two terrorists boarded a bus, one armed with a gun and the other with a knife. Two passengers were killed and seven wounded, including two women who were left in critical condition. Shortly after that attack, a car ramming attack took place on Rechov Malchei Yisroel, where Rav Yeshayahu Krishevsky was murdered in a particularly brutal way and three other people were wounded, including his cousin, Rav Pesach Krishevsky. After plowing into a group of people with his car, the terrorist emerged and began to stab passersby. The terrorist, Alaa Abu Jamal, was a resident of the Jabal Mukhaber neighborhood and an employee of Bezeq, the Israeli telecommunications company.

A few days later, another dimension of the incident came to light. By now, the story of Rav Yisroel Menashe Reisman has become famous. Rav Reisman is one of today’s most popular darshanim and delivers a daily shiur at the Bais Yehoshua bais medrash on Rechov Minchas Yitzchok that is attended by dozens of men. This past Elul, Rav Reisman was asked to deliver a shiur in Antwerp, but he was loathe to miss a day of his daily shiur and refused the invitation. The organizers in Antwerp pressed him repeatedly to come, and he finally agreed to attend a chizuk gathering scheduled for Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. He left for Antwerp in the morning and returned to Eretz Yisroel that evening. The shiur that Tuesday morning, the morning of the attack on Rechov Malchei Yisroel, was canceled.

After the terror attack, footage from the security cameras at a nearby school revealed that during the days before the attack, the terrorist had driven the same car repeatedly around the shul where the shiur takes place. He had discovered what time the shiur ended and had made note of the large crowd that emerged from the shul at the same time every day. From his perspective, the crowd made for excellent prey, perfect for a vehicular attack, Hashem yishmor. The cameras showed that on the day of the attack, shortly before he drove to Rechov Malchei Yisroel, the terrorist had arrived outside the shul, waited for several minutes, and then emerged from his car, looking tense. When he saw that the area was empty of passersby, he set out in the direction of Geulah, where he finally committed his murderous act, only a minute’s drive from Rechov Minchas Yitzchok.

Miraculous Salvation in the Old City

One of the most salient miracles took place at the very beginning of the “knife intifada,” which was then concentrated in the area of the Old City. Every Shabbos, dozens of mispallelim go to daven at the Kosel. Residents of Yerushalayim are already familiar with the phenomenon, as well as with the people themselves. There are dozens of regular visitors, who daven at the same minyanim every week. They can be seen arriving from nearby Geulah, as well as from Mattersdorf and Ezras Torah, which are slightly further away, and even from Har Nof, Givat Shaul, and Bayit Vegan.

Most of the mispallelim arrive very early and recite Tehillim before davening. Some of them daven vosikin, while others daven slightly later and return home in the afternoon. All in all, the Kosel sees dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of visitors every Shabbos morning. The Kosel plaza is filled with mispallelim every week. Some of them make the trek to the Kosel via the road leading from Shaar Yaffo, past the police station, and through the Jewish Quarter to the Kosel. Those who are more courageous, or simply more accustomed to the route, save time by taking a shortcut through the Arab shuk.

On that Shabbos, the week of Parshas Bereishis and the first Shabbos after Simchas Torah, we were not yet aware of what was in store for us. That morning, two of the veteran mispallelim, one 62 years old and the other 65, were making their way to the Kosel as usual, but a 16-year-old angel of destruction awaited them on the way. Both of the men were stabbed; by nature, the attack could well have been fatal. After Shabbos, the police released a statement that “two Jews who were walking from the Damascus Gate were stabbed about 150 meters from the gate by a 16-year-old Palestinian. Police officers who were stationed at the nearby Engineering Corps junction ran to the scene and found two Jewish men bleeding from stab wounds in the upper body. The officers saw the terrorist with the knife still in his hand, and they called out to him to stop. The terrorist ran toward them with his knife, and the two officers aimed their weapons, fired with precision, and neutralized the terrorist.” “Neutralized” is a less blatant term that indicates that the terrorist was killed.

This incident attracted a good deal of attention, since a reporter for Yediot Achronot not only witnessed the attack, but actually filmed it (on Shabbos, unfortunately). She related, “Two young men were standing at the entrance to the grocery store where I was standing. One of them, who seemed to be waiting for chareidim who would be returning from the Kosel toward Meah Shearim, suddenly took out a knife. He began chasing a chareidi man and stabbed him in the face. It all happened in a matter of seconds. The victim tried to fight his attacker, but he fell on the ground. At that moment, some of the storeowners and Arab passersby started shouting at the attacker, ‘Run away! Run away! The police will be here any moment!’ But the stabber continued running and managed to wound another man. The police arrived and one of them began firing at him until he fell.” Incredibly, the reporter was standing next to the terrorist, yet he didn’t stab her, possibly because he wasn’t certain that she was Jewish. That may be her miracle, but the miracle for the other victims was the fact that the storeowners confused their attacker.

One of the two summed up the incident as follows: “A miracle happened for us. One of the storeowners grabbed the terrorist’s hand; he even threatened to throw a chair on him and to kill him. Then the policemen arrived.”

The victim questioned why the reporter who filmed the incident didn’t shout for them to run, since she saw the Arab running toward them while they had their backs to him. The reporter herself claimed that she was afraid to shout. In any event, the victim asserted that he had experienced a major miracle. He also noted that he was angry at the policeman who had told him and his companion that the route to the Kosel was safe. He was asked if he would continue visiting the Kosel, to which he replied, “Certainly, but we will be more careful.”

Living Among Murderers

It is clear that our mere existence in Yerushalayim transcends the laws of nature, when we take into account the fact that the Holy City is surrounded by numerous Palestinian neighborhoods, which are nothing short of nests of murderers. Let us give a brief overview of the neighborhoods that have spawned bloodthirsty terrorists, all of which are situated in close proximity to us.

Silwan: An Arab neighborhood that lies adjacent to the Har Habayis and Har Hazeisim. This neighborhood is a hub of incitement and is instrumental in fomenting tensions in the Old City.

Shuafat: This Arab neighborhood sits adjacent to the chareidi neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo and also borders on the neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze’ev and Neve Yaakov.

Jabal Mukhaber: Situated in East Jerusalem, adjacent to the Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanetziv. Five terrorists from this neighborhood were involved in recent terror attacks.

Issawiya: An Arab neighborhood bordering on Har Hatzofim and the neighborhood of French Hill. Molotov cocktails and stones are regularly thrown from this neighborhood at cars traveling to Hadassah Har Hatzofim Hospital or at motorists taking the road to Har Hazeisim.

Tzur Baher: An Arab neighborhood bordering on the neighborhood of Armon Hanetziv on the other side. Thus, Armon Hanetziv is sandwiched between two hostile Arab communities.

Beit Hanina: This neighborhood is mentioned in our “Snippets from Israel” column this week. It is located on the road that leads to Neve Yaakov and Pisgat Ze’ev. A motorist driving to those neighborhoods from Derech Netanyahu would actually pass through Beit Hanina. The residents of this neighborhood constantly throw rocks at passing cars, although high barriers have recently been erected. They also regularly hurl rocks and Molotov cocktails at the light rail, whose tracks pass through the neighborhood.

And we haven’t even mentioned A-Tur, A-Ram, Ras-al-Amud, Beit Sachur, and Al-Azariah.

In short, Yerushalayim is surrounded by mountains, but it is also surrounded by Arab neighborhoods filled with hatred and rage, the product of the incessant incitement of the Palestinian media and clergy. The fact that we are mostly able to maintain a normal routine is therefore nothing short of an extended miracle.



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