Israeli Survivor’s Thankful Prayer

July 21, 2012  

A young Israeli man who survived last week’s murderous terrorist attack in Bulgaria was pictured saying a prayer upon returning to Israel. The man, 21-year-old Matan Sabah of Be’er Sheva, covered his eyes and said the “Shema Yisrael” prayer.

The ancient “Shema Yisrael” proclaims God’s unity. It’s words are “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One.”. It is part of the daily prayers, but also said when in danger and as a reaffirmation of faith.

The photo of the wounded Sabah praying at Ben-Gurion Airport grabbed attention worldwide. Many media outlets ran the picture in their coverage of the attack.

The bombing killed five Israelis and wounded many more. Bulgarian police are working to identify the suicide bomber involved, and are hunting down other suspects as well. A terrorist cell linked to Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack, but its claim has yet to be confirmed.

A team of volunteers from the ZAKA emergency response organization was in Burgas, Bulgaria last week to clear the scene of the attack and ensure that those killed would have a proper burial. The group found a set of tefillin [phylacteries, ed.] that was undamaged in the blast.

A member of the team said finding the tefillin was an emotional experience. “Reuven lifted them and kissed them… In painful situations like that, when you see unbearable things, to suddenly see something positive, that’s what breaks you,” he said. “It’s something that gives strength in the midst of tremendous pain.”

“It’s not joy,” he added. “But it does something. Your eyes start to tear up.”

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