Friday, March 18, 2011

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Our Recent Tragedies

a guest post by Rabbi Tal Moshe Zwecker,

Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim

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 ways."  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 cruelty.

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 Alcohol 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 isn’t just a nice place to visit on Yom Tov, 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 and may we truly have a Purim Samayach,
Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim

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