These Normal Stories
Expanded Stories, Linked from This Normal Life

Monday, October 07, 2002  

Lament for Sgt. Ari Weiss, z"l
by Rolinda Schonwald
Oct. 2, 2002

A shattering
His death
In that place which has always known death
They call it Nablus
In the Bible, it is called Schchem.
Sounds like phlegm.
Full of toxins.
Meant to be spit out.

We traveled last summer with his parents.
Davened with them.
Played games, Shabbat afternoon.
What prayer can only be recited on a Wednesday?
Birkat Ha Shemesh, the blessing for the sun.

His father, the Rabbi on our Kosher cruise,
spoke with pride. Two sons in the army.
Now there is one.
As she buried her son, his mother said:
"Now we are really Israelis."

How the world is turned upside down.
We become orphans when our parents die.
But to bury our children?
A horrendous reversal of order. So many of our friends
have done that this year. Buried their children. Donated
their precious organs, bestowing life to others. Netanel.
Jay Jay. Yoni. Kobi. Ari. Dead, in accidents, in terror attacks,
in battle.

Ari's grandparents are Holocaust survivors. So proud their
grandsons protect and defend our people, who had no army
then, in the black years when G-d's face was hidden. When we
died and died and died.

Ari went to summer camp with my daughter.
Kids going to funerals. To shivas. Too young.

Read the front page. Weep.
Go through the motions.
Dismantle the sukkah.
Shattering begets deconstruction.

Tidy the house. Wash lettuce. Marinate tofu.
Admire the green of spring onions. Cook rice.
With my Japanese chopstick, I sit at the table.
Poke holes into the etrog. Insert cloves.
Sweet smell of the world to come.

After the joyous holidays.
After the sukkahs of peace are taken down.
Leftover fragrance of etrog and clove.

Ari Yehoshua, so named that his initials would be the same as
Eretz Yisrael. At his funeral, his father says how honored they are.
The irony. Ari's Bar Mitzvah portion recounts the sacrifice of Isaac.
An angel saved Isaac. "No angel saved my son," the Rabbi laments.

On Rosh Hashana it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
Who will live and who will die. Who by fire and who by water.
Who because it is their time, and who, because of hatred, long,
long before their time.

After the tears, stillness. Sitting. Numb.
After the stillness, motion. Stretching forth my hand.
Moving through the pain. Putting things "in order."
B'seder. Washing, folding, putting away.

Will it ever be "b'seder" for the Weisses,
without their firstborn son?

posted by Brian | 2:01 PM
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