On Sunday, Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Yishai eulogized his daughter, Ruth Fogel and her family members who were brutally murdered in their sleep Friday during an attack on their West Bank settlement home by Palestinian militants. Left at the grisly murder scene were the lifeless bodies of Rabbi Ben-Yishai's daughter Ruth, her husband and three of their children, all stabbed to death.
Thousands of Israelis gathered to bid farewell to the family Sunday at the Har Hamenuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem. Their murders have galvanized the Israeli people and the government has pledged to continue the construction of new settlements in the West Bank.
During a radio interview Monday, Yehuda "taught a lesson of faith and strengthened the People of Israel," Arutz Sheva, the Israeli National News, reports.
His inspiring remarks on Voice of Israel government radio stunned the interviewer into near silence and brought tears to her eyes.
After Rabbi Ben-Yishai expressed deep pain but no anger or calls for vengeance, interviewer Estie Perez, who has described herself as a secular Jew, asked, “Where do you have the strength and restraint that you can talk now and strengthen us, without anger and without calling for vengeance – that is not in your voice? Where is the strength from?"
Rabbi Ben-Yishai answered, "I have worked in education many years, and as an educator, I try to strengthen and teach people faith. I understand that I cannot be satisfied with words and that I also must implement the same principles on which I have educated others. This is a test of my faith, and therefore I agreed to be interviewed."
"I believe in the country, in our strength and in the strength of the army, and I ask how did this strength not save our children?”
Rabbi Ben-Yishai said Monday morning that he asked the oldest surviving children, 12-year-old Tamar and eight-year-old Ro’i, if they wanted to say the Kaddish prayer, recited by mourners and expressing their faith in the Creator. “They answered, ‘Of course. They are our parents, brothers and sisters.’” The mourning father and grandfather told Voice of Israel government radio, “They understand.”
He said, “We [the grandparents] will take upon ourselves the difficult task and pave for them the path so that life will be victorious."
“Their mother and father will pray for them from the Heavens, their grandfathers and grandmothers will give them a lot of love, and the People of Israel will hug them and encourage them to grow and continue in the path of their parents."
Rabbi Ben-Yishai said that the only thing he regrets is that he did not tell his daughter Ruth and his grandchildren enough times, “I love you. I love you." He added, "If I could go back in time, I would say so every five minutes, but that would not be enough.”
The rabbi also revealed that police had tried to reach him to inform him of the attack, but he was out of town. “The Creator was kind to us” by his not having to bear the bad news on the holy Sabbath, he said. “Our daughter called after Shabbat, assuming we already knew."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with Rabbi Ben-Yishai by telephone and visited him Sunday morning. “He felt great sorrow and said that the entire People of Israel are part of the sorrow. We hugged each other."