My 14-Year-Old Hero by Sivan Rahav Meir

My 14-Year-Old Hero by Sivan Rahav Meir
My hero’s name is Matanya Tzur Aryeh. He is not a biblical hero, despite his name. He is a 14-year-old boy from the village of Kfar Maimon in the Gaza Envelope, whose residents until recently were living in Jerusalem hotels following their rescue from the Simchat Torah massacre.
I met Matanya Tzur when I was invited to speak at a temporary school set up at Yad Vashem for around 400 evacuee children. Scary pictures from the Holocaust era had been removed or hidden. Volunteer teachers, retirees, Yad Vashem workers, all mobilized for the sacred work of education. Toys were donated to the kindergarten, the municipality brought bags and notebooks, and I entered the high school classes, 9th through 12th grades.
“What gives you strength these days?”, I asked the students and received many answers. “Music.” Others answered that they got strength from their friends at the hotel, their parents and family, their faith, the IDF, the unity of the Jewish nation.
Then a blond boy with long peyot raised his hand and said: “The garbage heap of history.” I asked for an explanation, and Matanya Tzur Aryeh said: “I look at our history and who has been thrown into the trash can over the generations. If we lift the lid of the trash can, we will see inside Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Amalek, Antiochus, Nebuchadnezzar, Titus, Haman, Ahasuerus, Pharaoh…
“All the wicked are there, all the scum. The world is moving forward, there is a plan here, evil is not here to stay, it is temporary. The nation of Israel is small but eternal and strong, and the place of Sinwar and Nasrallah is also there, in the trash. Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran, they will all end up in the garbage heap of history, soon.”
And as much as I knew all this in my mind, thanks to Matanya with his gentle smile, I suddenly felt it in my heart as well.
[This story appears in the wonderful free Hebrew booklet To Heal the Heart: Faith and Comfort in Times of Crisis by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Sivan Rahav Meir available for free download at https://korenpub.co.il/…/%D7%9C%D7%A8%D7%A4%D7%90-%D7…]

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