Eulogy by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat:
Lev of blessed memory was born on Simchat Torah and hence given the Hebrew
name, which means "My Festivals". "As was his name, so was he", as our
Sages teach us. Hagai had an infections smile, he radiated joy and he was
the consummate expression of the spirit of Yisrael Sabba (Grandfather
Israel) in our generation: totally dedicated to the Torah of Israel, the
People of Israel and the Land of Israel, with weapons of war in one hand
and volumes of Torah in the other.
But there is yet another way in which Hagai expresses his name. Unlike the
Sabbath day which is dedicated to G-d, the Festivals are dedicated to the
eternity of the Jewish nation: "You have chosen us from all other nations,
you have sanctified us from all other national languages," as we recite in
each Festival Amidah. The Festivals are truly a song of praise to the
uniqueness of Isarel and to the eternity of Israel, to the message of
Israel and to the mission of Israel.
There is however a tragic paradox built into Israel's eternity. When the
Almighty came to Abraham, commanding him: "Take you son, your only son,
the one whom you love, even Isaac and bring him up to Me as a whole burnt
offering", He was in effect teaching our founding Patriarch that only if
you are willing to sacrifice your future will you merit a future, that
only if you are ready to place your son's life on the line for his G-d and
his land will you see children and grandchildren living in the Promised
Land and maintaining our traditions. An Individual who lives his life with
the single goal of continuing
to live is doomed to fail, because each of us must taste his/her mortality
some sooner and some later. But an individual who lives his life in the
backdrop of an ideal, which is more important than any individual life,
participates in eternity and is bound up with his nation, which he enables
to live forever.
It is this message which Noa & Shimon imparted to Hagai and which Hagai
imbibed with every fiber of his being. It is more than a privilege to be
the Rabbi in whose community Hagai flourished; it is a most humbling
experience. I stand in awe at the magnificent youth which our difficult,
fateful and miraculous generation has produced: young men and women filled
with intense dedication to the people of Israel, the Land of Israel and
the Torah of Israel who are blessed with the idealism and the courage to
place their lives on the line for the eternity of their people. Hagai is
an outstanding example of an outstanding generation.
May his memory forever serve as a blessing and may his soul be eternally
bound up with the eternity of our people.