It's a sad day. Sharon and I went to our first military funeral on Friday. A boy from our community was killed in the tank that blew up. We didn't know him or his family, but we had to go.

Others who knew them were distraught. The wailing wrenched our hearts.

My wife began crying.

Unabashed sobbing and screaming rose from scores of people.

The explosion had blown the engine of the tank upwards with a force strong enough to blow the turret off the top of the tank. No one knew for sure what was actually inside the coffin. Rabbi Gluckowsky, who stood beside me at the funeral, thought only scraps of flesh and metal. The Jewish custom is to collect and bury even the slightest remains. The flesh, he thought, would be burnt onto the metal and both would be buried together.

The Southern Commander of the IDF forces in charge of Gaza spoke. He looked like an off-screen Hollywood warrior. He called for determination in a long war. He spoke of the slain soldier as a korban, a sacrifice so that the rest of us could live safely.

Then the army rabbi spoke: when a young boy gives his life for us, he said, we have to ask whether our lives are worth his sacrifice.

The chief rabbi from Rehovot urged that we examine our lives, that we look at the price this young soldier paid for our wasted minutes and hours.

The rabbi from the army then sang the traditional tune sung at Jewish funerals Av HaRachamim ("Father of Mercy").

He had an extraordinary voice, full of sorrow and yearning. None of us could hold back from weeping. The soldiers wept. The mother of this slain only son wept. His father wept. His grandparents and friends wept. His comrades wept. Perhaps G‑d was weeping too. I hope so.

Wreathes of flowers were laid on his tomb. A wreath was given from each army division, laid by a high ranking officer of that division who, after laying the wreath on the freshly filled grave, stood at attention and saluted this young soldier, a boy of 20.

I found the salute powerful. A last gesture of strength and dignity and recognition of bravery and self sacrifice.

But perhaps for me the most touching aspect of the funeral was the platoon sergeant who watched over his young brood as they stood at attention in the Israeli sun paying honor to their fallen friend. In the movies these platoon sergeants are portrayed as tough SOB's yelling and screaming at their soldiers; but this sergeant was like a Jewish father watching over each soldier — boy and girl — to make sure that they had something to drink, that they had tissues with which to wipe their tears, to provide a word of comfort and solace to young soldiers of 19 and 20 who were shaken by the death of a comrade who just yesterday walked and laughed and fought beside them. The concern in this sergeant's eyes for the boys and girls, the young men and women, the brave soldiers for whom he was responsible was for me the symbol of the difference between us and those blood thirsty barbarians against whom we struggle.

I watched as the emergency medical crew constantly scanned the platoon to be sure that the heat and the grief would not take its toll. I watched as they carried one young soldier away after he succumbed. To what? A broken heart? Fear for his own life? Heat? Dehydration? I watched as each one came under the watchful eyes of their commander who knew how precious each Jewish life was, who knew that these soldiers in this Jewish army were young boys and girls, sons and daughters of loving parents, brothers and sisters of admiring siblings.

And then, last night, we learned about the bombing in the shopping mall where two fifteen year olds were killed and scores of other teenagers injured. I had no trouble imagining the funerals, the screams, the tears of agony and despair from the parents. I could see the whole thing.

My co-worker came into my office this morning. He lives not far from the mall. His daughter goes to school across the street from the mall. One of the children killed was the best friend of his son. Another he knew lost an eye and was in surgery this morning hoping to save a leg.

"It was a tough night," he said. The community had gathered together to count their young, to see who was missing. It was a Saturday night and all the kids had gone to the mall to shop and eat pizza. The Palestinians know this.

Only fifteen years old, his daughter had already been to four friends' funerals in her life.

I feel like this war is closing in. No safe place anymore. I feel the agony everywhere.

And yet in the midst of it all, my young son's math test this morning and my daughter's school performance tonight remain high priorities. Another son just called to tell us he arrived safely back to yeshiva after his Shabbat at home. And my wife and I have yet to decide which one of us will take the car today.

Sharon and I have agreed to stop complaining so much about life in Israel. Our complaints cheapened the loss of this boy's life. Of all the life that is being lost.

The tiny gestures. The paradoxes. The attempt to set priorities. Living around so much loss of life. Attending to so many daily details. The simple grief and sadness of it all.

Anyway, that's this Sunday morning.