"Aren't you scared?" "What if something happens to you or your kids—would you be able to forgive yourself?" "I can't imagine living in such a dangerous place!"

These were typical phrases I would hear again and again when speaking to family or friends for the eight years we lived in Jerusalem. Israel is not an easy place to live. And was I scared? Sure. Many times and in many places. It is something you live with that you can't quite describe. An awareness that gives seriousness to every situation. A life where you scan everyone around you, wondering if someone in your midst might want to take your life.

So you might very well ask why anyone would choose such a situation. But there is an answer. And it is not just mine, but something that is shared with everyone who has ever lived in Israel. And that is purpose.

Deep in my heart and soul, I always knew and know that living in Israel is holy and special. Every minute I was there I was doing a mitzvah and my life had a meaning and purpose far beyond my individual mission. And that was something that I not only wanted to live for, but was willing, if G‑d forbid anything happened, to die for.

Today I cried as I read how 13 year-old Shlomo Nativ was butchered to death by an ax wielding Arab terrorist in his community of Bat Ayin. Bat Ayin is a settlement in Gush Etzion, surrounded by hostile Arab villages. Shlomo's parents, Chaim and Revital, were founding members of Bat Ayin and are fellow students of my teacher, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh. As Shlomo lay dying of his wounds, his murderer then went after a little 7 year-old boy, Yair (ben Michal) Gamliel, breaking his skull. Yair is now in critical condition following surgery.

Both boys grew up in Bat Ayin. Bat Ayin is a unique settlement. Despite where it is situated, there is no security fence. The residents decided that a fence or gate implied that they were scared. That they needed to lock themselves up in order to survive. They wanted to give the message that they did not fear the villagers who wanted them dead. And this message was heard and understood. Bat Ayin has been the target of very few attacks. The feeling in the Gush was that these were Jews who were not to be messed with.

And then today happened. It is easy to speculate that if there had been a fence…if he didn't live in the Gush…if he wasn't in Israel. If…If…If…. But there is no "if" as Shlomo lived knowing that G‑d runs this world and that he was living and giving life to a holy part of the Land of Israel. He grew up knowing that if not for his parents and others like them, if not for Bat Ayin, that area would not have Jews there today. That area would be filled with more of our enemy, more people looking to destroy our people.

We are devastated beyond words with Shlomo's loss. His eight siblings will have a void in their life from their brother who is no longer physically with them. His parents, Chaim and Revital, have lost a precious child who can never be replaced. But every single moment of Shlomo's short life had meaning. Every day of his 13 years was a gift. Can we understand what happened or why? No. Not in this world. Not while we are stuck in this exile. But do we believe there was a purpose? We must.

Shlomo was a boy who lived his life with no fences or walls around him. He lived with the message that he refused to be scared. He refused to give in. He refused to live in fear. The terrorist managed to take away his life. He robbed us of a precious soul. But no one can ever take away the meaning his life was infused with. Shlomo Nativ lived as a proud Jew. And he died as a proud Jew. And the way we can make sure he did not die in vain is to live as he did. Fearless.