#539 (s5768-29 / 18 Adar II 5768)

A Martyr of Magnitude

Doron Mahareta was rejected when he first applied for admittance to Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem.


A Martyr of Magnitude

Doron Mahareta of blessed and saintly memory, H.y.d.,** was one of the eight Yeshiva students that were massacred less than a month ago in Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem. He was 26 years old, the only non-teenager of the group.

One evening during the week of mourning at the Mahareta home in Ashdod, one of the rabbis from the yeshiva, Rabbi Hauer, told a truly amazing story about Doron's dedication to learning Torah. Every single type of Jew was represented there, and sitting together, from Ethiopians to Polish Chassidim, from knit kippot to Yerushalmi white kippot, from jeans and sandals to long black frocks. Someone remarked on the irony that it takes such a tragic event to draw everyone so close together. The story brings to mind the Talmud's account (see tractate Yoma, 35b) of Hillel's near freezing on the roof of Shmaya and Avtalion's Yeshiva, when he became covered with snow while listening intently through the skylight.

Doron wanted to lean Torah in Mercaz HaRav, one of the strongest of Israel's yeshivas. But, since his early schooling was in Ethiopia, he lacked a strong background in Gemara. The Yeshiva rejected him. He refused to be discouraged. He asked, "If you won't let me learn Torah, will you let me wash the dishes in the mess hall?"

For a year and a half, Doron washed dishes. But, he spent every spare minute in the study hall. He inquired what the yeshiva boys were learning, and spent most of the nights and all of his Shabbatot with his head immersed in the Gemara, learning what they learned.

One day, the "dish washer" asked the head of the yeshiva to test him. The Rosh Yeshiva politely smiled and tried to gently dismiss Doron, but Doron wouldn't budge. He forced the Rosh Yeshiva into a Torah discussion.

The next day, he was no longer a dish washer but a full-fledged yeshiva student.

On weekends, when Doron would come home to visit his family, he'd spend the entire Shabbat either in the large Melitzer shul or the neighboring small Gerrer shul learning Shulchan Aruch ("The Code of Jewish Law" - composed by Rabbi Yosef Caro here in Tsfat - ed.) and its commentaries. Three weeks ago, he finished the entire Shulchan Aruch and its principle commentaries. Doron achieved in his tender 26 years what others don't attain in 88 years.***

It would not be a great surprise if Doron were a reincarnation of Hillel. Remember him when you think to opt out of the evening's Torah study and go watch TV. This martyr of such magnitude was truly an unblemished sacrifice, who gave his life for all of us. May his holy soul beg mercy for the grieving nation he left behind. Amen.

Adapted and supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles from an anonymous submission, subsequently revealed to have been originally written by the one-and-only Lazer Brody and first posted on lazerbrody.typepad.com. (Even more subsequently, the photo was traced to Tsafrir Abayov.)

Editor's notes:
** "Hashem yakem damo" - "May the Al-mighty avenge his blood" - an attachment used only for those martyred because of their Jewishness.

*** This story has been all over the Jewish blogs (web logs).One blogger, at soccerdad.baltiblogs.com, adds some perspective:
The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) is a massive work [and the attached commentaries make it much more so - yt]. The average Orthodox rabbi doesn't have to know the complete Shulchan Aruch to earn ordination.
It is as if a student who hadn't taken pre-calculus in high school went to MIT, worked as a dishwasher and then 7 years later emerged with a PhD in mathematics. It takes a tremendous amount of dedication and perseverance to accomplish what Doron did. He stands as one more example of the tremendous loss earlier this month when a murderer started shooting innocent young men studying.

Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages.

A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of his most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.

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