When Rabbi Yehuda Ben Yishai, the father of Ruti Fogel, walked onto the stage,* I started sobbing. This great man had the face of . . . how can I describe it? He had the face of a man whose beloved daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren were murdered just four months ago.

And this is the story Rabbi Ben Yishai told us:

There is a light shining through their window. A light that is so bright, it is blindingYou might know that my daughter Ruti, and her husband, Rabbi Ehud, lived in Gush Katif before it was evacuated. In my hands, I am holding a photograph of their home in Netsarim. In the photo, the night is pitch-black. But there is a light shining through their window. A light that is so bright, it is blinding. And on the wall of their home is a sign that Ruti made, which read, “Hitnaari me’afar kumi, livshi bigdei tifarteich amee” (“Shake off the dust and arise, put on the clothing of your glory, my people,” from Lecha Dodi, sung to welcome the Shabbat on Friday evening).

Many of you know that this was Ruti’s favorite quote. It’s a reference to the Jewish people preparing itself for the coming of the Moshiach. And it has been repeated over and over since her death, at her funeral and at the various memorial services. This quotation gives you a sense of my Rut, and the noble and supremely holy person she was.

One day last week, as I was leaving the synagogue, I was approached by a man who introduced himself as the scribe who had been commissioned to write a Torah scroll in memory of Ruti and all the martyred members of her family. “I just wanted to tell you,” the scribe told me, “that tomorrow I will be writing Bereishit (“In the beginning”), the first word of the Fogel family Torah scroll . . .”

And then, the next afternoon, I received an urgent phone call from the scribe. “I must see you immediately!”

“I am very busy today, and have several meetings. Could we put this off?” I suggested.

The scribe was adamant. “I feel that this is urgent enough that I must come and meet with you right away.”

So the scribe came to my home and told me that that morning he had sat down to write the first word of the Torah scroll. As always, he had gathered together several people in need of divine assistance to participate in the auspicious event. Among those he had invited was a couple in a particularly dire situation.

How often does a page simply fall out of a prayerbook?As the scribe wrote the very first word, the husband from that couple said, “Wait a moment. Did you see that the moment you started writing, a page from your siddur (prayerbook) fell onto the floor?”

I thought that was unusual. How often does a page simply fall out of a prayerbook?

But what was written on that page was even more unusual. It was a page from the Shabbat prayers that read:

“Hitnaari me’afar kumi, livshi bigdei tifarteich amee.”


In my hands, I have another photograph of my son-in-law Rabbi Ehud. In this photograph as well, it is nighttime, and Rabbi Ehud is learning Torah at his yeshivah in Itamar. Again, the night is black, and the light from the beit midrash (study hall) is so bright. It is blinding.

No matter how dark the night is, the light of the Torah, the light of this family will last forever.

No matter how dark the night is, nothing and nobody, no matter what they do to us, will be able to extinguish their light.”


* I heard this story yesterday at the 13th Annual Binyan Shalem Conference, where Ruti Fogel, of blessed memory, had been a participant the year before.