Honoring our Heroes

Sergeant Tuvia Yanai Weissman did not return to his wife and daughter. However, he saved one life and protected many more.

May 8, 2019 14:40
4 minute read.
Yanai Weissman HY”D, his wife Yael and their daughter

Yanai Weissman HY”D, his wife Yael and their daughter. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Bible defines two types of wars; obligatory wars (commanded by God) and discretionary wars (allowed under specified conditions). When a Jewish army approaches a city in a discretionary war, it first must offer the residents the option of a peaceful surrender. Only after refusal by the enemy of Israel does the army of God wage war. (In the spirit of the Torah, the IDF drops leaflets before attacking their enemy, warning citizens to clear the area. The IDF sends in foot soldiers instead of bombing areas populated with citizens, raising the danger our soldiers face in order to lower our enemy’s civilian losses). There are times when war is necessary, but the prophet Micha (4:3) shares God’s vision of the ideal:

“And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore.”

Committed to this vision and praying for its speedy arrival in Messianic times, the armed forces of the State of Israel is officially named IDF (Israeli Defense Forces).

Israel's Remembrance Day began the evening of Tuesday, May 7th and ends as Israeli Independence Day celebrations began the next evening. What can the message be, placing these two days together, like a groom and his bride?  How can mourning parents spend a day visiting the grave of their son, and then meet their friends for a barbeque in the park the very next day? 

The answer may be found in the story of Sgt. Tuvia Yanai Weissman, HY”D, and his widow, Yael Weissman.

In February 2016 while off-duty, Yanai was shopping with his wife and infant daughter in a large, modern supermarket in the Benjamin region north of Jerusalem open to both Jewish and Arab customers. On a week-long leave, he was out of uniform and without his weapon.

However, Yanai didn’t hesitate upon hearing the screams of a nearby shopper

He threw himself at one of two knife-wielding attackers, pushing the murderous teenager off the victim. He was then mortally wounded, stabbed in the back by the second attacker. Both these murderous youths raised on hatred of God’s chosen people were only fourteen years old.

Speaking at the funeral, Yael spoke to her 21-year-old husband, father of their orphaned daughter:

 “I was not able to stop you and I am not sorry. If you had not raced there, you would not be the Yanai that I know, the one I fell in love with. I waited for you to return to me and Netta, I waited for you to hug us and say that everything was fine and that you had succeeded in stopping the terrorists. We waited a long time and you did not return.”

Yanai did not return. However, he saved one life and protected many more. He acted as every soldier in the IDF must, so that each member of this small nation surrounded by enemies can live.

The heart-rending proximity of these two national holidays now becomes clear. Through the pain and loss felt by mourning families on Israel Remembrance Day, comfort is found in knowing their loss has ultimate meaning. Israel’s children and elderly, its citizens and many tourists, its Jews, Muslims, Christians and atheists are safe in the one Middle Eastern democracy due to the sacrifice and devotion of the fallen among the IDF.

To bring this message to their daughter, to our nation and to the world, Yael fought valiantly in court to have “killed in combat” engraved on her husband’s headstone.

He was not a victim of terrorism. He was compelled by his duty as a combat soldier of the IDF, even when “off duty,” to defend lives.

The citizens of Israel will not cower or live in fear. Once we honor our fallen soldiers and remember the terror victims, murdered simply because they were living in their promised land, we will celebrate our strength and freedom on  Independence Day. On this day, Jews around the world – and especially those in Israel – celebrate with immense joy and gratitude, the privilege of having a State of Israel and a strong army. 71 years later, we are still like dreamers, as it is written:

 “A Song of Ascents. When God brings about the return to Zion, we were like dreamers. Then our mouths will be filled with laughter, and our tongues with joyous song.” (Psalms 126:1-2)

The miraculous story of the Jewish People returning home after a 2,000-year Diaspora is still underway. May those who live here and support Israel from afar merit the ultimate comfort for our sacrifices: greeting the Messiah and enjoying the vision of life with no more warfare.

This article was originally published by The Heart of Israel and is reprinted with permission.

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