Rambam Deot 5: Halacha 7: “ A learned sage… should always be first in extending greetings so that one’s mood will always be inclined towards oneself, and one should always judge others to the side of merit. One should always speak up for the benefit of one’s friend and never to his detriment, and one should always love peace and pursue peace. …The general rule is not to speak except in connection with wisdom, charitable acts and similar things.”
Uriel was a scholar, a learned person in all his actions and studies at the yeshiva. He approached his studies intensely, thoroughly and with curiosity. He was thirsty for knowledge, whether it was for the daf yomi, which he engaged in diligently, or for his regular studies at the yeshiva. He planned his times for Torah precisely: the walls of the study hall knew him well. He didn’t waste time and he didn’t just hang around outside the yeshiva. He’d come during vacations, too.
If Uriel was home for Shabbat, he’d make sure to come back to the yeshiva on foot, his father watching him from the window of their house until Uriel reached the yeshiva.
He loved his studies and his teachers, loved his friends and was devoted to them, and also helped the younger students and learned with them. And his teachers and friends returned the love. How could you keep from loving Uriel? Modest, happy, appreciative and looked on the bright side of everything.
Uriel took on the most difficult project in the yeshiva’s volunteer program, adopting a patient in the Kiryat Shaul Hospital. He took care of the patient with devotion, studying with him and bringing him books he was interested in reading.
It seemed that more than anything you could see Uriel’s deep awe of Hashem, simple and innocent, with an innocent faith.
His innocence also stood him well when he served in the army, ready for any mission. When the army thought that there was no need for him to be in a commander’s course, he was happy that he could return to the yeshiva and immerse himself in Torah. When because of his special abilities, the army decided to reconsider and send him to the commander’s course, Uriel went willingly. A good commander, a beloved commander.
I remember “white nights” on the turret, nights when the commander had to hang half his body out of the tank and peel his eyes in the dawn darkness and the golan’s mists to ensure proper movement, meter by meter. That’s one of the reasons why in the Tank Corps, the commanders are nearly always the first to pay with their lives, whether during a battle when their bodies are exposed, or if their tank turns over. The rest of the soldiers are within the tank and can, thank G-d, emerge with relatively light injuries. The commander, exposed, pays with his life.
We’ll end with the continuation of Rambam’s words (Rambam Deot 5: Halacha 13), which seem to have been written about Uriel: “The purpose and lot of a learned sage is truth and belief: on something negative he should say no and on something positive he should say yes….The general rule is that one should be among the pursued and not among the pursuers, and among the humiliated and not among the humiliators. Concerning a man who does these and similar things Scripture says, “You, Israel, are my servant, in whom I will be glorified.”