VeShavu Vanim

  • Yeshiva Staff
Recollections of Zechariah Baumel HY"D by Rav Binny Freedman (translated by Victor Ofstein with permission from the original hebrew, which appeared in Daf Kesher in 5760, 18 years after the war in Sultan Jacoub.)
I remember that evening like yesterday. When we arrived back at yeshiva on Sunday morning, about half of the guys had not returned. We were told that they had been drafted over Shabbat. That day, during evening seder, Rav Amital entered the bet midrash and went over to the bima. Total silence fell on the bet midrash, and in an emotional voice, the Rav instructed the boys from shiur daled and heh to go to their rooms, and pack their gear. “In 30 minutes, the buses will arrive to take you north. Go in peace and return in peace.”

I accompanied Zechariah to the bus, and I still remember his smile. It was the last time I would see him.

I have so many memories when I think of Zechariah’s face. We were in opposite rooms in pnemiya yud. During evening seder we sat in adjacent rows in the bet midrash. I remember him as if it was yesterday, facing the aron kodesh, in the third seat from the right in the front row, sitting and learning. We learned Baba Metzia together in chavruta. Often, we would find ourselves immersed in the experiences of Abaya and Rava, in deep discussion. There, deep into the night, Zechariah taught me, a young foreign talmid, about the significance of free will. Soon after, with that same free will, Zechariah would find himself on the battlefield, after our forces had withdrawn, alone in the darkness behind enemy lines.

I had come to the yeshiva as a young American student, expecting to learn for a year before returning to study law in New York. Something influenced me, and I stayed. One of the guys who took me under his wing was Zechariah. I will never forget our deep conversations, at night, under the stars. We spoke about the State and the Army, the people in Israel and in the Diaspora, about destiny and choice, discussions which now looking back take on such a deep meaning. Often we discussed the concept of ‘Hesder’, the guys who love to learn Torah but also understood the need to fulfill their duty.

I didn’t fully understand the depth of pain and suffering of the Baumel family, until I spoke with Zachariah’s parents when they came to celebrate my wedding. At the beginning of the meal, they apologized to us that they would not be able to stay. It was evident how much they wanted to celebrate with us, even through their pain. However, when I looked into Miriam Baumel’s eyes, I understood. They didn’t just see me under the chuppa, they also saw Zechariah standing under the chuppa on his wedding day. " 

"בלע המוות לנצח ומחה ה' דמעה מעל כל פנים"

Yeshivat Har Etzion
ישיבת הר עציון

Today, Thursday, at 17:45, we will IY"H recite Tehillim in The Gush Beit Midrash in memory of our beloved talmid, Zecharia Baumel HY"D.

This is the place (The Beit Midrash of The Gush) from which Zechariah left to go to war in Lebanon.

Thereafter, the talmidim and rabbanim of the Yeshiva will accompany Zecharia on his last journey. 
Buses will depart from that same yeshiva parking lot from which Zechariah and his friends boarded buses thirty-seven years ago on their way up north.

Rosh Yeshiva, Harav Yaakov Medan, will speak at the funeral.
The Yeshiva calls upon its alumni and friends to join us in paying our last respects to Zecharia Baumel.

The funeral will take place at 19:00 on Har Herzl. Click on this link to see the entire levaya. Hesped by Harav Medan begins at minute 44.
בלע המוות לנצח ומחה ה' דמעה מעל כל פנים
The Gush Family