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Rav Lavi- Stabbed to Death: An Exceptional Tzaddik

Published on Sunday August 15th, 2021

Hashem never makes mistakes, He always takes back the best. Shortly after the tragic announcement of the death of Rav Nechemia Lavi, who attempted to save Jews from an Arab terrorist in the Old City of Jerusalem in October 2015, his fellow learning partner entered the Beit Hamidrash where they had the habit of studying together as Chavrutas (study companion), in order to see the last thing the Rav had been learning. Memories…

On the table of the Beit Hamidrash he found the book of the Kuzari with a bookmark slipped inside. When he opened the book at the place of the bookmark, he was surprised to discover several lines underlined in pencil: "Rabbi Akiva used both worlds, without causing damage, and it was said of him that the Shechina should have shone on him as it did on Moshe, but the time had not come, and he was one of the ten martyrs. When he was being tortured, he asked his disciples whether it was time to recite the Kriat Shema, to which his students exclaimed: "Really our Master? To such an extent?" He replied, "All my life I have been unhappy not to be able to fulfill ''with all your soul "; and now that my soul is being taken, should I not fulfill it?'' And Rabbi Akiba prolonged the pronunciation of the word Echad until his last breath.''

Rav Lavi's Chavruta reported this to the bereaved family, who were very moved, and this was recounted many times during the week of mourning. All the reports written on Rav Lavi made it possible to understand how much the sentences of the Kuzari corresponded to him, not only for the circumstances of his heroic death by Kiddush Hashem, but also to define the essence of his being, as a being who had dedicated his life to learning Torah and also to bringing others closer to Torah.

9 Souls in a Studio

Rav Lavi taught in a Yeshiva and was the father of seven children. The family lived in a one-room apartment in the Old City. This room was "divided" by a curtain and all the members of the family lived in poverty but were full of joy. Not only that, but this did not prevent many students from visiting the Rav frequently and feeling at home.

"Every night, even late at night, when he finished all his activities, he would call one of his students with whom he had a private Chavruta to give him encouragement," says one of his close friends. He would not forgo this Chavruta for anything in the world, and even when he went on milouim, he kept up his Chavruta on the phone with the melodious sounds of the military base in the background. He also called home and talked to each of his seven children in order to inquire what each one had studied at Yeshiva or Talmud Torah, and to question them and talk to them in learning as if he were at home.”

Hachem Picks the Most Beautiful Flowers

Rav Lavi's brother-in-law testified that he had always reminded him of the tzaddik of Jerusalem, Rav Aryeh Levine. "He welcomed guests all the time," he said in a broken voice. ''He would introduce the young people to his family as "good friends," even though he had only just met them in the street two hours before. He would envelop them with warmth, give them encouragement, and he would try and get to know them as if he had known them for years ".

There is an anecdote that goes back to the time when he was doing his miluim service, which demonstrates how Torah was his very essence. Shortly before he was released, a paper was distributed to all the conscripts, asking them to indicate what had bothered them in the army and how they thought it could be fixed. One of the things Rav Lavi wrote was about his difficulty with lashon hara. To fix this, he spoke to one of the officers who frequently attended the times when Lavi was also present. Pleasantly but firmly, he asked him to try to be careful with his language, as it was difficult for him as a practicing Jew to hear lashon hara. The officer listened to him, and miraculously, there was a more pure and pleasant atmosphere thanks to the use of more measured words.

Never a Scornful Word

Finally, the widow of Rav Lavi also spoke with emotion of the exceptional man she had had the merit of having at her side. "He embodied the Messilat Yesharim, the Path of the Straight (A work of Mussar written by Rav Moshe Chaim Luzatto) in all his ways. For the 16 years of our marriage, I can testify before Heaven and Earth that I never heard him say a word of lashon hara about anyone, not even once. "

Efrat Cohen

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