Yakir & David & Seeing Despite the Darkness

Friday, 19 January, 2024 - 12:50 pm


Yakir & David were two study partners at a Yeshiva in Gush Etzion, who were reservists in the IDF, who were killed together in combat last week.

In a Podcast Lecture I was listening to, the speaker shared how he studied each day with Yakir Dexter's father, and had himself sat with Yakir for several hours just days before, to understand the dynamics of the moral and Halachic dynamics and challenges that the soldiers are coming across during this difficult battle.

The speaker described the unusual close relationship that these two friends had with each other, and the beauty of their personalities, morality and their faith.

He described how Yakir Hexter had three verses and quotes hanging over his bed which he would use to inspire himself with each day.

One quote from the Talmud stated, "Everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for the Fear of Heaven (a reference to our sensitivity and awareness of acting appropriately, which must come from within)".

The second quote stated "One who trusts in G-d, kindness will surround him".

The third verse stated "I trust in your kindness, and my heart is joyful in your deliverance".

Indeed, three powerful ideas of morality and faith, that this young 26 year old man sought to live by each and every day.

His friend David who was his study partner and killed in battle with him, was described by his teacher as having a pure, incandescent smile that never left his face and someone who radiated happiness and goodness, and literally climbed into your heart. 

His teacher wrote about him that "Dovid’s intellectual curiosity inspired him to look beyond his natural setting for religious inspiration and personal growth. Though he was raised and schooled in a National Religious context, he was a regular at Chassidic tishes and shiurim. Based on his request, I started a weekly class in Chassidus in our Yeshiva".

Yakir was described by his teacher "as an artist and an original thinker who exhibited a broad intellectual sweep. Additionally, he possessed strong moral integrity and conscientiously donated to charity from his various side endeavors. As he deeply valued time as a commodity, he also allocated hours of his personal time to support the needy."

His teacher continued "Though Yakir possessed a strong moral fiber, he knew how to let loose with his friends, be mischievous, and have fun. He combined finesse, imagination, modesty, moral integrity, intensity, and sensitivity."

Indeed, two beautiful and inspirational young lives cut down in their prime, while defending their people, in a war that they never wanted to happen.

As I think of these two young men, who are a symbol of all of the other casualties and fatalities, I think of the life that they represented and the bright good, kindness, inspiration and joy that they sought to live by, in their very short lives.

In this week's Parsha, we read about the final three plagues that struck the Egyptians, including the 9th one, the plague of darkness. The verses describe the darkness as having two stages, with the first stage being heavy darkness which prevented the Egyptians from seeing what was happening, and a second stage, involving a thick darkness which even prevented their ability to move around.

The Torah then states, that at the same time, the Jewish people all had "light in their residences" and were not impacted by this darkness. From the understanding of the words, the Midrash writes, that the light that the Jewish people had, wasn't limited to their own residences, but went with them, wherever they went and it enabled them to see what they needed, even as those around them, were unable to see a thing.

It is a fascinating description of the plague of darkness and how it impacted the Egyptians who were the cruel oppressors on the one hand, while on the ther hand, it left the Jewish people, who were being oppressed and strove to live by a higher set of ideals and values, unscathed and not impacted by this darkness.

In Chassidic teachings it is explained, that the Darkness in this story, is not only an allusion to the Egypt of thousands of years ago, but also an allusion to the darkness and confusion which can often become so common in what we face in life and in the atmosphere that at times seems to consume us and the world around us. Yet, today too, we can have the ability to have an illuminated vision and moral and clear vision, despite the negativity and darkness, by tapping in to the inner light that G-d has endowed us each with.

The verse famously states "Ner Hashem Nishmat Adam", "The Flame of G-d is the Soul of Man". We have an inner candle and flame and when we are able to nurture this flame, through prayer, Torah Study, Mitzvot and good deeds, and reflection, we tap into a deeper dimension of who we are, which enables us to have clarity, inspiration and even joy and light, despite the darkness which can be so overwhelming.

Yakir & David, were obviously two young men, who tapped into their inner light, through their deep and meaningful connection with their faith, study and actions, and their short lives represent a conviction of moral clarity and goodness that shone and brightened the lives of so many others, even when it got dark and difficult out there.

May their memories be a blessing and an inspiration to us, to tap into and cultivate the inner light, and deeper self and purpose of who we are, so that we continue to be source of light, joy and inspiration to ourselves, family and all of those around us.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos


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