What Author David Grossman Confessed to the Fallen Soldier’s Mother
9 years ago, Captain Bnaya Rein HY”D was killed along with three other soldiers when a missile hit his tank during the 2nd Lebanon War.
Bnaya was known for his idealism, his integrity, and his burning dedication to the IDF and Israel. As the result of his brave rescue efforts, he managed to save dozens of soldiers over the course of his military service from near-certain death, and was even granted a Medal of Honor by the IDF for his self-sacrifice and heroism.
This past Tuesday I heard a lecture given by Hagit Rein, Bnaya’s mother, who has dedicated the years since Bnaya’s death to speaking around Israel about her lost son, her experience as a bereaved mother, and her pride in the IDF and its soldiers.
Mrs. Rein also spoke a great deal about the role of faith in her life since Bnaya’s tragic death.
Here is a story she told which I think will be burned into my memory forever:
After Bnaya was killed with three other soldiers, it took three days for the burial to take place. In accordance with Jewish law, before the burial, it was forbidden for immediate family members to recite blessings over food before they ate.
Immediately following the burial, somebody handed Hagit a cup of water, and she remembers reciting the blessing over water with great emotion and focus: “Blessed are You, Hashem, our L-rd, Master of the Universe, who everything came into existence with His word.”
And she told us, “I had just buried my son whom I loved so much. And I knew “everything came into existence with His word”! Also this…Also this…”
Soon afterwards, the parents of the four soldiers met with IDF representatives to hear the circumstances leading to their sons’ deaths.
Renowned writer, David Grossman and his wife, were sadly among those mourning parents.
Hagit Rein recalls that Grossman was asking a lot of questions about the anti-tank missile which had hit their sons’ tank, and where it had fallen, and how it had managed to pierce the tank. It seemed that he felt the IDF shared the blame for his son’s untimely death.
Hagit Rein then said, “I know everything I need to know. I know my son was born 27 and a half years ago and Hashem said that at 8:37 PM after Shabbat Parshat Ekev, he would die.”
In response, David Grossman pointed his finger at his temple and began circling it around.
But some time later, Hagit Rein and David Grossman met again, and Grossman approached her.
“I wanted to apologize for what I did. That meeting was the first time I had ever met a person who believes, a person with faith. And I will tell you something. I am jealous.”
Since Bnaya’s death, the lives of the Rein family have been full of happy events. In fact, Hagit went straight from Bnaya’s shiva to a bris for a newborn grandson named after his heroic uncle. One year the family even celebrated 3 weddings in a single year.
Hagit Rein feels that Bnaya is sending them many simchas to bring his parents and 7 remaining siblings joy following his death.
Mrs. Rein shared that she frequently prays to Hashem, “I gave you my most precious possession, now please, Hashem, give me the strength to cope!”
Amen! And may Hashem continue to send strength and joyful occasions to this holy family as they continue to recover from the tragedy which befell them 9 years ago.