That Ari Fuld, may his memory be for a blessing, whose name means lion, was a fierce advocate for Israel is well-known.
What might be less well-known is that he took time on Fridays, just before Shabbat, to teach the upcoming week’s Torah portion live on Facebook, often beside his beloved barbeque grill, in his beloved community of Efrat. Fuld taught Torah to thousands of Jews and Christians all over the world, while preparing food for his family’s Shabbat meals.
His last Torah lesson, recorded in his home on September 14, less than 48 hours before his murder, was eerily prescient. He introduced his lesson by welcoming everyone with his signature comment that he was broadcasting “out of the beautiful rolling hills of Judea, Israel”.
For the next 18 minutes, he spoke about Deuteronomy 31:1-30, the verses that comprise the Torah portion known as Vayelech (“and he went”).
In this chapter, Moshe Rabbenu (Moses our teacher) is about to die. He is handing over leadership to Yehoshua (Joshua). Fuld asked his online students, “What does the leader of the Nation of Israel say as he’s about to die and give over the leadership to the next person in line?”
As was his style, Fuld apologized for interrupting his Torah explanation with a breaking news story that had just come across his screen.
“Just an update right now from the news, I’m sorry to interrupt,” Fuld says in the film. “A terrorist tried to infiltrate Israel from the Gaza Strip and was terminated by the IDF soldiers. So thank God he didn’t get in and good job to the IDF soldiers.”
After that update, Fuld returned to teaching about Moses. He read Bible verses in Hebrew, careful to translate everything.
“Bnei Yisrael, the Nation of Israel, they have their eyes on Moshe Rabbenu,” Fuld taught. “Moshe Rabbenu is Moses, if you don’t know. And they believe in Moshe Rabbenu.”
Fuld continued explaining why Moses’ words to his nation just before his passing were unexpected. He asked why Moshe doesn’t mention Yehoshua, front and center, as the incoming leader.
In response, he read and translated the verse that indicated that God Himself will fight on behalf of the Nation of Israel.
Hashem your God Himself will cross over before you; and He Himself will wipe out those nations from your path and you shall dispossess them.—Yehoshua is the one who shall cross before you, as Hashem has spoken. Deuteronomy 31:3
“If God is going in front of the Nation of Israel, then what do we need Yehoshua for?” Fuld asked.
In a particularly poignant moment in the midst of his lesson, Fuld stopped to give his daughter, who spent this past Shabbat away from home, the traditional blessing that Jewish parents give their children on Friday night.
Hashem bless you and protect you! Hashem deal kindly and graciously with you! Hashem bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace! Numbers 6:24-26
Fuld summarized the main point he wanted to make:
“There’s only one source of success and failure and that’s HaKadosh Baruch Hu (The Holy One Blessed Be He), that’s God.
“HaKadosh Baruch Hu, God, will take care of you, but you have to follow the Torah… The Nation has to bring itself to Israel. That takes moral codes, courage and strength… At the end of the day, success or failure is up to HaKadosh Baruch Hu alone.”
Lisa Craig is a non-Jewish woman from Texas who, along with her husband Wayne and another couple, toured Judea, including Gush Etzion and Hebron, with Fuld this past June. She told Breaking Israel News, “Ari spoke truth. He wasn’t afraid to be a true patriot for Israel and the Jewish people.To know the biblical, historical and political facts of Israel was more than a passion for him. It was his life. May the work and words he shared with the world never be forgotten. He was a light to the Nations.”
Similarly, Texas-based Christian Zionist Lori Hinze told Breaking Israel News, “I’m in total shock right now. Israel just lost one the greatest Lions of Judah I’ve ever known.”
Hinze said that Fuld was “unmatched in his tenacity to bring Torah to the world, support of his beloved Eretz Israel and grow his family in the beautiful Judean hills or, as he always said, ‘the beautiful rolling Judean hills.’” She said his personality “lit up the world.”
“Ari, you were a light to this Gentile,” said Hinze. “Thank you for enriching my life. May your memory be a blessing and may Hashem bring justice swiftly. Rest in peace Lion of Judah!”
In a moment of near prophecy, at the eight minute mark, he spoke words that can help all those who love Israel be comforted for the loss of Ari Fuld:
“Be strong and brave. Don’t be fearful. [God] is not going to leave you alone. He’s not going to stop and He’s going to take care of you.”