Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Recent Tragedies

I do not often write about current events, usually because I feel to
inadequate to be a commentator on the workings of the world. However
something moved me to write about the past events of recent headlines and
news and so here goes . . .

Macrocosm and Microcosm

Those are the two words which resonate within me. On a massive large macro
scale we have Japan's tragedy an earthquake and a tsunami and the death and
destruction of the lives of many people. On a micro smaller more intimate
scale we have the tragedy in Itamar a family murdered in cold blood by
inhuman beasts called Arab terrorists.

Many people seem to see some sort of connection, comparing and contrasting
these events, how much or how little Press coverage they got etc. I myself
do not know nor do I claim heaven forbid, to understand the ways of G-d.
Today was the fast of Esther, and as is our custom in the Ashkenazi rite we
read during Mincha's afternoon service the words of the prophet where G-d
Himself tells us "My thoughts are not your thoughts& My ways or not your

As Jews we always must heed the Rambam's call where Maimonidies tells us
that whenever a tragedy befalls us we must examine ourselves do
introspection and repent for our misdeeds and shortcomings, we should not
say such is the way of the world and that events are happenstance for the
Rambam calls such an attitude sheer crulety.

So what do we do and what do we think?

On a Macro scale, Japan, some are saying it all has to do with two Jewish
boys who are innocent yet sitting behind bars in Chiba Prison.

Let us look again to Berachos 59a where many of us turned during the last
tsunami, and we might just be shocked:

"When the Holy One, blessed be He, recalls His children, who are suffering
among the nations of the world, He drops two tears into the Great Sea, and
the sound of them is heard from one end of the world to the other, and this
is 'goha.'"

"goha" - meaning "trembling and crying out," and Rashi explains that the
reference is to "trembling of the earth" (earthquakes)

Read that again with the emphasis on His children and two tears. Again there
are two innocent Jewish boys suffering in Japan. Something to think about .
. .

Maybe. . .but that is Hashem's cheshbon not ours. We cannot know why
catastrophic events claim the lives of so many Japanese people. What should
our cheshbon be?

Are we battling drugs? Purim is coming will we fight alcholism, smoking and
substance abuse? Will we let Yeshiva bochurim OD Ch"V on Alcholol or Drive
Drunk or do anything else that the yetzer hara has designated Purim for? One
man's greed for money through drugs landed these poor yidden in jail. Do we
fight those things in our community do we cry out and shed tears like the
Ribbono Shel Olam does?!

As for Itamar, how can we ever imagine the tragedy of such a family! As I
listened to some of the hespedim said at the funeral all I could think was
that this is a family, these were someone's children and grandchildren, a
husband a wife a brother a sister and they are just gone! Murdered in cold
blood by an Arab terrorists yimach shmam!

What can we do as a cheshbon?! They died for an ideal of settling eretz
yisroel -yishuv ha'aretz. Sure I am not a settler, I am not even a religious
zionist as they were. But the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel does exist.
Maybe we take living here in the holy land for granted, Eretz Yisroel isnt
just a nice place to visit on YomTov, or a vacation spot, or a place to
learn Torah in for a few years before or after getting married. It is our
home. . .

I have said enough, there is no more to say . . .

Good Shabbos

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Chassidic Classics in the English Language
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