A Story of Double Courage and Double Happiness in my Town in Samaria

My friend, in my town Eli, is one of the strongest personalities that I know. I saw him cry only twice over thirty years. Once he cried from excited, overwhelming joy when he celebrated having completed going over the entire Talmud – the comprehensive work of Jewish thought, ethics and law that is the basis of Jewish life – which takes years of constant study to complete once around. Even when he told me that his wife had cancer, he was bright eyes and smiling, saying that they would beat the cancer, and they did.
The second time I saw him cry was at his wife's grave, nestled in the Jerusalem hills, on the thirtieth day of her passing. Together they had about ten good years after the first bout of cancer. During those ten years she had about ten grandchildren born in the family and she wrote ten well-accepted books for teens, that adults read, too. Then the cancer came back with a vengeance, but they had about another year together; it gave them some time to discuss what comes next, time to say goodbye.
After seeing him cry at his wife's grave I thought I should go to him, for a "cup of coffee" late at night, when his house is empty except for sweet and haunting echoes from the past. But I was too shy.
About ten years ago Israel was attacked by Hezbollah, and deciding that enough was enough – invaded Lebanon in order to move Hezbollah from our northern border. In our town we have several families of officers in the army, where the wife defends the safety of a loving, tranquil home, with work and the kids, while the husband is in the army, defending the safety of the country. Sometimes the husband is away for a week or two weeks, because the country needs him, but sometimes, especially during war – he doesn't come home at all. Up the hill in my town in Samaria, there was a family, a wonderful, loving, idealistic and truly good couple with two little sons. In the war, the husband, a courageous, decorated and deep-thinking officer, was in the thick of a fire-fight when Hezbollah fighters threw a grenade in the midst of him and several of his soldiers. Without hesitation he laid himself on the grenade, he "jumped on the grenade" as the saying goes, in order to absorb the explosion and save his soldiers. After the explosion he was able to say "Shema Yisrael" – "Hear O Israel!" – the Jewish declaration of faith, before passing. The years passed, the widow raised her sons, but she was still alone. Sometimes I saw her, at the town supermarket, and I wished I knew what to say to her – but I didn't know what to say, and I was too shy anyway.
My friend and this woman – they're both so strong, so brave, but still, both were so broken. You know: if you're alone, then you're missing something, your heart isn't complete; but when you had a perfect partner – then when he or she leaves this world, your heart is broken. But sometime there is nothing more perfect, more complete, than a broken heart. A broken heart can bring humility, true modesty, and true openness to hear the greatness of the world – and then there is nothing deeper than a broken heart.
A few months after my friend's wife passed away I heard a rumor that he had become engaged. I was so happy for him, for I was sure that was one of the things his wife requested from him: don't stay alone. I asked another wise friend if the rumor was true and he smiled affirmatively. I asked who the bride–to-be was, and he replied that she was the courageous woman who had lost her courageous first husband ten years ago.
You know, sometimes you hear a good tiding and it makes you happy. But sometimes - and it's a unique thing – the good tidings are doubly so, and you are doubly happy. My entire circle of friends was exponentially happy, that two such wonderful, strong, and pure, broken hearts – were going to come together, and be a more perfect, more complete and purest heart.
I was neither at my friend's first wedding, nor at the second wedding, which was very small. But the day after the wedding, we danced, together with scores of his students. The climax was when he took her two sons in hand, who would now be his sons too, the sons he never had (he has five daughters), and the three of them danced before her, a complete circle.