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Pittsburgh and Us

Friday, 2 November, 2018 - 3:01 pm

Rabbi, what’s going to be? What should we do? Rabbi, how can you explain this? What do I tell my children? These and many more questions were on the minds of millions of Jews here in the United States and all over the world. The tragedy in Pittsburgh last Saturday as 11 Jews were murdered in cold blood while praying, sent shock waves throughout the Jewish world. There is so much to ponder. Once again history repeats itself, as another Jew hater kills Jews. What makes this so painful is that it happened here in America, the Goldene Medina or in English “the country of gold”, a place where nothing can go wrong. I don’t mean that as a joke, by the way. We are so accustomed to the comforts and protections this truly blessed country has provided us Jews that it is hard to cope with such a turn of events. There are no easy answers, in fact I don’t think there are any answers at all. Who can explain this? Who can say why G-d would allow such a tragedy to happen to his beloved people? I cannot and trust me, no one else can either.

But silence is not the call of the hour either. You see, if the question is why Hashem allows there atrocities to happen? Then all we can do is be silent and accept the ultimate judgment of G-d. He does not owe us any explanations and to be quite frank, I do not want any either. What good would it do if G-d would explain to me the reason for this kind of pain and suffering? How will that make me a better person? How will that make me more compassionate? It won’t. I may be able to sleep better knowing the reason, but who wants to sleep better when 11 families are grieving and in such pain. So may I suggest that instead of asking why? We should start asking what? What should we do about it? What should be our reaction? What is a proper Jewish response to this kind of tragedy?

In order to respond properly we must first know what we are responding to. We are responding to a man who hates Jews and everything Jews stand for; His target was Jewish values, the Jewish way of life, Judaism, Israel and all of us who represent all that. To such evil there can be only one answer; Strengthen Jewish Values, strengthen the Jewish way of life, strengthen Judaism and strengthen Israel. This killer tried to tear Jews away from Prayer. Our response should be to fill every house of prayer. This Shabbos our Synagogues should look like they do on Yom Kippur; filled to capacity. There should not be an empty seat. These Anti Semites hate us because of what we represent. If you want to do something in response to the murder of 11 pure souls who died because they were Jewish, then do something Jewish. Light Shabbos candles tonight before sundown. Go to Shul and say and sing those very prayers that these 11 Jewish victims would love to say but sadly can no longer. Act more Jewishly this Shabbos. Bring your family along and connect with other Jews. This will bring you the comfort you seek in these difficult times.  Groaning and moaning about Anti-Semitism with no action is pointless. We are a people who have responded to so many tragedies throughout our long and difficult history and we have always emerged stronger and better. This is because we did not only moan and groan, we acted, we built a stronger Jewish identity, a stronger Jewish community, we became even more connected to G-d. This time is no different. We will act, we will grow, we will be strong and we will live. And regarding our children and what to tell them? Tell them the truth, but more importantly SHOW them the truth; show them the beauty of Judaism and what a privilege it is to be and live as a Jew. The rest they will figure out on their own. I hope to see you this Shabbos.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Shabbat Shalom

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