The Talmud explains that Moshe wrote the final sentences of the Torah bedama. Commentators explain that he wrote the final sentences of the Torah in tears. The rest of the Torah was written with black ink; the end, the story of the death of Moshe, was written in tears. I write this letter about the murder of Rav Moshe Twersky, Rav Kalman Levine, Rav Shmuel Goldberg, and Rav Aryeh Kupinsky ztvk”l, hy”d, with tears on my cheeks. Ever since I saw the news, I have been crying. At times I find myself bursting into tears when I think of the loss we have suffered. I did not know Rav Levine (I had met him once twenty years ago). I never met Rav Goldberg or Rav Kupinsky. I knew Rav Twersky though. He was the grandson of my father’s teacher, Rav Soloveitchik. His brother teaches at Yeshiva University and I am fortunate to have a relationship with him. His sister is the wife of Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, a mentor and colleague. He was an angel among men. He was a man filled with warmth, love, deep faith, and great scholarship. He was my brother- in- law’s Rebbe. I met his son recently for the first time at the wedding of his niece. Rav Twersky was a man of deep humility. He did great things. One of the many beautiful things he did while spending time with his grandchildren was taking them to a food pantry, picking up food packages and driving around, delivering them at the homes of needy individuals. He always treated everyone he met with great warmth and generosity. He was truly a man of Hashem. His thoughts were immersed in the Torah of Hashem and he was always thinking about how to serve the Almighty. Rav Soloveitchik felt that he was one of his closest disciples.
Each of the fallen was a righteous individual. They were devout, pious, and loving. Rav Aryeh Kupinsky had been praying in a second minyan, upstairs, when the attack began. He was a soldier in the IDF. He heard the shots ring out and he ran down to the lower floor to try and stop the attack. He attacked the terrorist, even though he was unarmed, and the terrorist, with a gun and knives, pinned him down. As a result of his heroism, thirty other men who were davening in the minyan were able to escape. Unfortunately, the second terrorist attacked Rav Kupinsky and our nation lost this human angel.
What can we do in the face of such loss?
First of all, let us resolve to learn from the example of these righteous rabbis. Let us each resolve this Shabbat to avoid any negative speech about other people or groups, which is what the widows have asked of us to do in response to this tragedy. Please read the letter below, signed by all four women. As they call on us to do, let us increase love within the Jewish nation.
Second of all, we are embarking on a special appeal to help the families of those who were attacked. I just got off the phone with Rabbi Yaakov Travis. Rabbi Levine was employed in his yeshiva. He told me that there are real financial needs facing the families. Please donate generously to this emergency appeal. Checks can be sent to the EHS Chesed Fund, earmarked “Har Nof Appeal.” Rabbi Travis is directly involved in the financial needs of the families; the funds we raise will be delivered next week when I go to Israel on our Bar Mitzvah Mission and will help the families with their immediate needs.
May we merit to know of no further pain and see redemption speedily in our days,