Oh that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! (Jeremiah 9:1)
This week Jerusalem and much of Israel has been in a state of shock and mourning. Thursday evening the brutalized, naked body of 19 year old Ori Ansbacher was discovered in a wooded area of southern Jerusalem, not far from the Biblical Zoo. Her chest chest had been pierced with many stab wounds. Ori had had a difficult day at the nearby youth treatment center where she worked as part of her national service. She had slipped into the woods to be quiet and meditate, and it was there that her assailant spotted her. By the following evening, Arafat Irfayia, a 29 year old Palestinian Arab from Hebron, had been traced to Ramallah, north of Jerusalem and apprehended. He has since confessed to the murder.
Ori was the daughter of Rabbi Gadi Ansbacher and his wife Noa. She lived with her parents and four brothers and sisters in the West Bank community of Tekoa—a community of some 3, 350 Jewish residents in the hills a few miles south of Bethlehem. It is named after the town of the prophet and shepherd Amos.
Ori’s name means “my light”—as it is found in the first words of Psalm 27, “The LORD is My Light…” At her funeral, attended by hundreds on a hilltop in Tekoa on Friday, the metaphor of her name came forth continually. From her mother,
“Thank you, my Ori. Thank you that you chose to come into this world through me. Thank you for 19 and a half years of light and joy…Ori was a child of light, who added so much light to the world. She cured broken hearts wherever she went…She also healed our pain. She had a deep and exact inner understanding of the world… Ori taught us to feel wonder. To feel wonder from the sunrise, from the sunset, from blossoming, from the sun, from the rain, from everything that there is in the world. To see the light in the world…She was a girl of inner truth. She was always looking for ways to fix the world, through goodness—through giving, through love. What a great love she was. How much love she gave. I pray that Ori will give us the strength to continue living with goodness. And that she will grant us the light to add to the world and to smile. I ask from those who are listening to us and for those whom our words are entering their hearts, to do one small thing to add light to the world—one act of kindness and maybe we will preserve Ori’s soul in the world and maybe we will have some comfort by adding light to the world.”
Noa spoke also of her daughter’s love for her covenant land, “Ori was a child of land and words. She so loved this Land, she wandered around it so much. She would set out to walk, to breathe, to sit, to work in this land.”
Tekoa and Hebron lie near the southern end of a region the Bible refers to as “The Mountains of Israel”—an area most of the world knows today as the “West Bank.” Jerusalem itself lies within those mountains. It is an area to which God has promised to return His people Israel from their dispersion around the world—where He will establish them in “their own land” (Ezekiel 36:8, 12,24). That region will again “become their inheritance and never again bereave them of children” (Ezekiel 36:12; Emphases ours.). And after they are brought there—He promises,
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe my ordinances. You will live in the land I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:25-28).
Ori was a Daughter of Zion; her family and those living with them, returned and living in the Land on the Mountains of Israel, are a truly courageous people, with a burning zeal for the God of their Fathers. Yet it is a zeal lacking in knowledge…a crucial knowledge of a Light which leads to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:2; II Corinthians 5:21), without which their nation can never be established. Satan will do all he can to put out even a glimmer of that Light, because he knows that the awakening which will come from it will mean “life from the dead,” reaching far beyond the borders of Israel (Romans 11:15).
The brutally violent death by terrorism of Ori Ansbacher has for a moment shaken many of us in the Land. Outside of Israel, because she lived within the “Territories,” in a town (which Wikipedia is quick to remind us) considered “illegal under international law,” her death has, for the most part, gone unnoticed. But God’s eyes are on His people. And on this area of His land. The Good News of Salvation in His Son went first out from Jerusalem to “all Judea and Samaria” (Acts 1:8). After reaching “the remotest part of the earth” it is now returning—to Judea and Samaria, and those whom He has returned there—before the King Himself returns in Glory to Jerusalem. “And the light shines in darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it…”
* For Rabbi Gadi and his wife Noa Ansbacher, their family and the community in Tekoa—that Av ha’Rahamim v’Elohei-kol Nehama—“The Father of Mercies and God of all Comfort” will minister to their hearts in ways which no earthly comfort can.
* That there will be revelation to them of God as merciful Father, who loves them and in whom they may find peace and comfort. That the Comforter/Helper whom Messiah Yeshua promised to ask of the Father (John 14:16), the Spirit of Truth, would indeed minister grace and truth to their spirits.
* That the Angels of the Lord will minister to the settlers, that they do not break out in a spirit of revenge—that they leave room for the vengeance of God, and look to God for mercy for both them and their neighbors.
* The confessed murderer is from the city of Hebron. It is a city presently 1/5 of which is under Israeli military control, 4/5 under that of the Palestinians. Several hundred Jews live in the midst of 40,000 Muslims. This is the city in which God met with Abraham as a friend; where he and Isaac and Jacob and their wives are buried; where Caleb drove out the giants; where God had David establish His kingship and reign for seven years. As the Glory will return to Jerusalem, so Redemption is going to return to Hebron—both to the Jews and to the Arabs living there. But at present there is a spirit of violence influencing both peoples. Please Pray that God’s Kingdom “Come!” and be established, as in ancient days, in Hebron!
* Pray Ezekiel 36 over Judea, Jerusalem and Samaria—and all Israel.
* That the Daughter of Zion will awaken to the joy that her Lord is returning to Jerusalem (Zechariah 2:10).