3,333 years ago, something happened on a mountain. And since then, our lives have not been the same.

The name of the mountain was Mount Sinai. The people standing at the foot of the mountain came from different tribes, styles and social classes.

Yet just before they received the Torah, they became one nation.

They were no longer a collection of people, but rather, a family: brothers and sisters, united in faith in one G‑d.

Last week, on Thursday night, something happened again on a mountain. On Mount Meron, 45 people lost their lives in a tragic event.

And suddenly, again we remembered how we are one family.

Gone were the differences in background, political affiliation, lifestyle or even our level of Jewish commitment.

We all cried together.

Thinking about this week’s Torah portion, the name “Behar” jumped at me.

“Behar,” at the mountain.

We visited the mountain back 3,333 years ago. But we never left. Despite the many superficial differences between us, we are still one.

* * *

In recent days, I have watched many interviews with victims’ relatives. Many had expressed their deep appreciation for the love and support they received from so many people they had never met before. It meant so much to them.

They also spoke of their faith.

I watched in awe how a father who lost two young children (who can even describe his pain?) shared with Israeli television how the entire night, while waiting for confirmation that the worst had happened, he cried to G‑d: “Please, don’t take away my faith. Give me faith. Give me the ability to continue to believe in you.”

Words fail me.

* * *

Rabbi Shimon Matalon was one of the Meron victims. On Thursday, just hours before he tragically died, he gave an envelope to a friend and asked him not to open it until Sunday.

It turned out to be the last thing he’d ever write.

Here are his words (translated from Hebrew):

Instead of being filled with disappointment,

Accept everything with love.

Instead of being rigid,

Be flexible.

Instead of complaining,

Let your mind be in control.

Instead of harping,

Be more grateful.

Instead of seeing problems,

Filter out negativity.

Instead of drowning in water,

Know it’s all from G‑d.

Instead of blaming everyone,

Remember Who is the greatest of all.

Instead of getting angry,

Take a deep breath and stretch.

Instead of being upset,

Exercise your faith.

Instead of choosing darkness,

Choose the full half of the glass.

Instead of sinking into despair,

Remember that everything is a test from G‑d, Who saves.

Because G‑d decides what’s going to happen,

But you decide what your attitude will be.

They are words to live by.

May his memory, and the memory of all the victims, be a blessing and an inspiration to us all. May their families and the entire Jewish people know no more sorrow. Amen.