Reflections on the Past Week

I’d like to share with some thoughts on the events of this past week.

We feel vulnerable.

If some deranged individuals can so easily make bombs and wreak havoc and fear the way they did , we wonder if we can ever be secure. As much as we stay strong and declare that the terrorists started up with the wrong city, the wound is there at it will remain. We feel vulnerable.

The way I see it, we’re left with two choices. We can accept the fact that there is nothing to do and not allow our lives to be disrupted. Or we once our security has been stripped away from us and we realize that our fate is not in our own hands, it becomes clearer that our lives are in the hands of Hashem. No person, even with their free will can affect us unless the Almighty allows it.

We should feel very thankful that we live in a country with the level of law enforcement that we have and the means that are at their disposal to protect us. We should be very thankful that we live in a country where both professionals and civilians are so welled trained in aiding people affected by a disaster. However, it’s pretty clear that anyone has the capability to harm us.

But there is no possibility of succeeding to do that unless the Almighty allows it to happen! Judaism does not divorce the Almighty from events that negatively impact us. We struggle with why he allows these events to occur but we accept that He has his reasons.

On the other hand, if we believe that we are in G-d’s hands then we can be secure because absolutely no harm can come our way unless he allows it! In believing that we are in G-d’s hands we are taught that we can influence His decisions with our prayers and deeds. If we emulate the bravery and kindness of those who aided in so many wonderful ways all the people impacted by the bombings, we will be contributing to the Almighty’s decisions to bless us and protect us!

Both the President and the Governor praised those brave souls who didn’t run away from the blast, but rather ran towards it. They didn’t run away to protect themselves rather they ran to help others without consideration for their own safety.

Dramatic events tend to bring out the best in us. We must carry any inspiration that the Almighty sends our way into our daily lives. We must never run away from the needs of others rather run towards them! In my mind I picture the scene after the first bomb blast at the finish line where we saw people tearing down the barricades between the marathon route and the spectators to aid the victims.

We too have barriers and obstacles, some of them self imposed, that block us from helping others. We must tear down those barriers and run to help someone in need!

A man who was interviewed a number of times the day after the bombings was referred to as the “man with the cowboy hat” because of the photo of him holding the artery (!) of a victim in a wheelchair. After hearing a bit about him I remembered him from a different interview a while back. This man has suffered in a way too difficult to even hear. He had two sons. He lost his oldest in Afghanistan. His younger son fell into depression over the loss of his brother and committed suicide. This man and his wife are involved in peace activism, helping those returning from war with post dramatic depression, and helping those impacted by suicide.

It is incredible to listen to this man speak. He doesn’t speak with anger. He speaks with strength, sincerity, and humility. The pain of his loss will never go away but he and his wife have picked themselves up and have used their tragic experience to strengthen others. Their strength and commitment are nothing less than awe inspiring. These people have an important lesson for us.

Rabbi Yitzchak Tuvia Weiss, a very prominent rabbi in Jerusalem was orphaned at a young age. He said to a young orphan who eventually became a prominent rabbi himself in Antwerp,” People make themselves into a rachmanus- a sympathy case. If you are going to think you are a rachmanus then you will be one. But if you know that you are not a rachmanus then you will not be one.”

We should never be judgmental about how people deal with their difficulties. But we must strive to be like the man in the cowboy hat. There are all types of difficulties in life that we have to endure. We must know that we are not rachmanus cases. Even when we have to receive help from others-we are not rachmanus cases. We must pull ourselves together and strive to be productive and contributing members to society.

May we take these lessons to heart. In that merit may we have no more sorrows.