Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Depth of Tragedy


This is a very difficult post to write because there are so many raw emotions and opposing views on the subject that I know it may not be a very popular piece. Yet, I feel that if we look at the big picture, it will help us through what at first glance appears to be a nightmare scenario, one which makes us wonder, "What is going on?"

We have just completed the 'Three Weeks' which, in the Jewish calendar, has been known to be a time fraught with many calamities for the Jewish People. On a national level it is a time of the destruction of the first and second Temples, the foundation of Jewish spiritual life. So many horrible things happened to our people during this period that we have been instructed to be very careful throughout these days. The last nine days leading up to Tisha B'Av, the 9th of the Jewish month of Av, we treat as a time of mourning,  holding by many of the traditions attached to that sad event. So real is the danger, that we are forbidden from swimming as well.

This year, while thank G-d, there was no major catastrophe affecting the Land of Israel, several terrible events permeated our beings. One is the ever-increasing contempt and misplaced criticism between our brothers. There is so much infighting involving different sectors of society that it is hurtful to watch. We are supposed to be as one and yet we treat each other like our own worst enemy. I heard a very true statement that is quite ironic - our enemies don't differentiate between us. They are anxious and willing to annihilate all of our people; national religious, haredi, reform, secular and chassidic Jews. To them, we are one unit. And that is what we are meant to be.  The commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18) obviously lost its meaning even to some who claim to have a fear of Heaven. Sadly, this internal strife reached a pinnacle over the past three weeks. At a time when we should strive for peace and guarding our tongues from loshon hara (evil talk and tale-bearing) instead we bring shame upon ourselves.

Then something less public and more dreadful brought us all into different corners of the ring. As if bickering over our different views would somehow bring back the three precious souls who lost their lives through parental misjudgments. Yes, three young babies in the course of two weeks left this world through pain and suffering, being left alone in the back seat of their parent's hot car. One can say the parents were negligent and failed in their responsibilities, but it is really irrelevant because the torment they will endure the rest of their lives will more than make up for any lack of civil punishment. It's difficult to imagine how one can go on after such a catastrophe. In Israel, despite the squabbling, we are as one family in agony and therefore we are all grieving. 

If we view these instances through spiritual eyes, we may still not be able to comprehend it, but we can come to an acceptance on a different level.

As much as it hurts, Hashem (G-d) decided that those infants were meant to leave this world. Each detail was predetermined so that even the amount of suffering they experienced was somehow beneficial to their neshamas (souls). We will never know or understand the reasons, but this was decreed in Shomayim (Heaven). Even the poor parents, regardless of the turn of events which led to the disaster, are destined to suffer for the remainder of their existence on earth. This too, though it is humanly impossible to fathom why, is somehow the way it was intended to be and for their ultimate good. When someone passes away, we say "Baruch Dayan HaEmet" which means, Blessed is the True Judge". We accept G-d's decision, as painful as it is. When we pass these tests in our material lives knowing that everything  He does is for the best, that is basis of emunaAcknowledging this can, with Hashem’s help, give the families the strength to go on.

My friend, Jessie, told a related story which may help clarify this concept. There was a great Tzaddik (righteous man) who was niftar (passed away) and when he went to the next world, he was judged as righteous. Just as he was about to enter Gan Eden, an accusing angel told the Heavenly Courts that he had nursed from a non-Jewish mother for two months because his own mother was ill. Therefore, he was sent back to earth and was born to a Jewish mother who nursed him for two months. Immediately, a bat kol (Divine 'voice' proclaiming G-d's Will) came from Shomayim (Heaven) and welcomed the Tzaddik to his rightful place in Gan Eden. But to the new parents of the two month old baby, they were faced with an aching loss. We have no clue. Hashem runs the world in every aspect down to the next meal of the smallest ant on a blade of grass and everything He does is for the good.

By all estimations, we are living the birth pangs of Moshiach. We are told it will be a rough ride but we must hang on with all our spiritual might. It is no coincidence that recently we have lost many holy Tzaddikim.... Torah Giants, Scholars, sinless babies plus other upright men and women who have died simply for being Jews. These excruciating sacrifices are the price we pay to bring us closer to our final Redemption. May it be G-d's will that there will soon be an end to all this heartbreak and struggle, bringing us together in song and joy to the newly rebuild Beit Hamikdash!


  1. It's hard for ordinary people who know the families to be comforted by anything including that story. Was the third death to show that not only young parents can make such a tragic mistake?
    me-ander: אין מילים Ain Milim, No Words