On the last morning of his life, Yoav Hattab urged a friend to try and observe Shabbat.
Less then two hours before the 21-year-old man entered a Paris kosher supermarket to buy wine for Friday night dinner and was murdered by a terrorist alongside three other Jews, Yoav had the following SMS exchange with a friend in French.
At 11:24 a.m. Yoav wrote, “Try to make the Shabbat as soon as you arrive.”
The friend responded at 11:53, “This Shabbat is very stressful. I have exams tomorrow morning and I’m taking a flight, but the next Shabbat for sure.”
Within seconds Yoav wrote back, “This is a difficult time in France for Jews. At least try.”
He added in a subsequent message, “Do not do everything, but at least try to do something.”
At 11:54 the friend wrote, “Okay, don’t worry; of course I’ll do it.”
Yoav wrote, “You’re the bomb.”
“LOL, thank you,” the friend wrote.
Yoav, the son of Tunis’s chief rabbi, lived in Paris where he studied marketing and worked in an office near the Hyper Cacher supermarket.
He had arrived home just one week earlier from Israel, where he had participated in a 10-day Taglit-Birthright trip for young adults from France.
It strengthened his dream of immigration.
Yoav was one of four victims of the terrorist attack at the kosher market whose bodies were flown to Israel for burial.
The victims were eulogized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin at their funeral in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuhot Cemetery.
Since then, their families have sat the shiva mourning period in Israel. On Thursday relatives and friends of the Hattab family gathered in a series of small apartments in a Jerusalem building, to mourn Yoav.
People who did not know Yoav, but simply wanted to show support for the family, made their way in the rain, to the shiva.
His younger sister, Hannah, 16, one Yoav’s eight siblings, told The Jerusalem Post that the morning of the attack started out as the most normal of days.
Yoav was killed early on January 9 at around 1 p.m., Hannah said. But in Tunis, they did not yet know he had already died. As they waited hours for more information they prayed, recited Psalms and cried, she recalled.
“In our hearts we already felt the loss,” she said.
They learned of his death only around 9 p.m., said Hannah, who described the moment her father Binyamin looked at her mother and said, “Tamar, Yoav has died.”
“It was I was like I was on another planet. It did not seem possible,” she said as she explained that she was very close to him.
“He always told me, ‘I love you, my dear one.’ And I answered him, ‘I adore you.’” Hannah smiled as she spoke of her brother who, she said, had a great sense of humor, a beautiful singing voice and a love of Israel and Judaism.
Just one month before his death, he fell in love and called to tell his parents he had found the woman he wants to marry, she said.
Her brother, Hannah said, lived life to the fullest.
“I want to ask everyone to be like Yoav,” she said. “He was my inspiration. He was my everything,” Hannah said. “He was the perfect brother. When he looked at me it was like paradise.”
“He was the only one that understood me,” she said.
No matter how big her problem was, he always assured her that it would be fine, because God was with her.
“I loved him more than everything,” she said.
“He always wanted to discover new cultures all around the world, he was in love with everything and everyone and everyone loved him,” she said.
On Friday, Chabad publicized Yoav’s SMS messages about Shabbat that he sent on the morning of January 9 and a letter that his father Binyamin sent out, in which he said his family had felt the love of the Jewish people in the last few days.
“This love touched our hearts deeply, and I feel the need to put to paper my feelings and share them with you. What can I write about Yoav – a charming young man, the love of my heart – who was snatched from us so suddenly? “Dear Yoav, you left us a gaping hole, an oozing wound in our hearts that will never be healed,” Binyamin said.
He recalled how his son “was a cantor and Torah reader, whose songs and prayers were a pleasure to listen to. He would pray and read the Torah with his whole heart – and his voice touched everyone,” he recalled.
In the name of his son, he asked Jews around the world to do good deeds and increase their religious observance, particularly of the Sabbath, which his son so loved.
“If I can make one request, it would be to continue Yoav’s embrace of life, to perpetuate it, to be infected by his love and to try to love the Jewish people even more. And, like Yoav, to encourage everyone you know to increase in mitzvot for the merit of his soul and the souls of his fellow victims [Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham and François-Michel Saada].
“Your good deeds will continue their lives, which were abruptly cut short.
“I’d like to ask specifically that all add in honoring the Shabbat queen, who was so dear to our son. Even if you do not yet feel ready to keep the entire Shabbat, try to keep it at least partially.
Light the Shabbat candles, hold a Shabbat meal with your family, attend prayers at synagogue – and when you hear the sweet voice of the cantor, please remember the sweet voice of our dear Yoav, the voice that is singing in heaven for all the righteous souls.
“Let us sing before God!” Binyamin wrote.