The loss of Ari Fuld is tremendous. Anyone who met him, even those in total disagreement with him politically, speaks of his larger than life presence and contagious positivity.
A brief look at the statements made after his murder shows a deep respect by those he used to fiercely debate. He wasn’t one to hide his opinion that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, but at the same time he engaged those with a different opinion respectfully and in a friendly manner—not very common in today’s climate of personal attacks against those we disagree with.
I happened to bump into Ari this summer. We only spoke for a few minutes, but I was struck by the unusual energy he exuberated. It left you with a feeling of, “I can do this. I can do whatever it takes to be the best person possible.”
Human intellect can’t and shouldn’t find a reason for a hateful 17-year-old to take the life of such a unique individual. Yet it would be wrong not to make sure Ari’s memory inspires us to stand up for our own principals, to let go of the fears and feelings of incompetence which hold us back from doing what’s needed.
In a way, Yom Kippur is the most joyous day of the year. Once a year, we get to withdraw deep inside ourselves and connect to who we really are. All the outer layers of jealousy, lust, and power-seeking seem to fade when the chazzan begins Kol Nidrei… By the time we reach Ne’ilah, the people in shul have been woven into a sort of large being. Me and you are out. It’s about us—Klal Yisrael on a shared destiny.
This explains the unfettered joy that follows as the close of Yom Kippur ushers in Sukkos. Indeed, it’s stated in the Gemara that one who hasn’t seen the joy of simchas beis hashoeiva in the Beis Hamikdash hasn’t seen joy in his life! This is the pure joy of celebrating who we are, our heritage, and our future.
Perhaps this is a taste of the world to come. Let us try to connect with it, yearn for it, and hopefully experience it very soon.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos and a most joyous zman simchaseinu,