We are in the week of Shiva for Ayal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer, and Naftali Frankel זכרונם לברכה. Their neshamos (souls) should have an aliyah and their families should be comforted.
There is much to learn from this tragic episode and I would like to share some thoughts with you.
During this time, there was a tremendous increase in Torah study, tefilah (prayer), mitzvah observance, and acts of kindness on behalf of these young men. The obvious question is: What happened to it all? Was it for naught? Do we just get credit for the fact that we did more mitzvos?
One answer is that since this increase came about through these young men, it brings tremendous merit for their souls. (Rabbi Chaim Mintz of the Yeshiva of Staten Island said that the fact that they brought this increase of mitzvos into the world is a sign as to how special their neshamos were to begin with!)
Another answer comes from Rabbi Aryeh Levin ZTL who was known as the Tzadik of Yerushalayim. A woman whose husband had just passed away asked him if all the tears she shed for her husband’s recovery were in vain. He answered her that when her time on earth will be up and she comes to Heaven, she will be shown all the evil decrees against the Jewish people that were torn up because of her prayers. Nothing goes for naught. It may not be directed to where we intended, but it always helps.
When the news broke of the kidnapping and murder of an Arab teenager, it became headline news with coverage on the hour. It angered me that what was seen as the revenge killing was getting more attention than the original kidnapping! We are constantly angered at how the New York Times makes moral equivalences between Israeli and Palestinian suffering and this episode was no exception. We constantly read with dismay about the unfair treatment of Israel at the U.N., how the Palestinians inculcate their youth with hatred for Israel, glorify those that kill Israelis, and how antisemitism is sweeping over Europe. It struck me recently that when we get so caught up in these things we begin to feel that our fate is actually dependent on what’s happening around us. If the Times and the U.N. would just change their attitudes everything would be just fine!
But we are not dependent on these factors or on anything else. We are dependent on the Almighty and that’s it! We don’t ignore these problems, but we need to keep our focus on what we are truly dependent on. We demonstrated that with all the Torah, tefilah, and mitzvos that we increased on behalf of those young souls–and that’s what we need to continue to do. We don’t need to decide what Israel should do next. We need to focus on what we can do to merit G-d’s merciful protection and that He guide Israel’s leaders on the right path in dealing with its enemies.
The final point is from Rabbi Shimon Alster, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshiva Gedolah of Cliffwood, NJ and rabbi of Cong. Torah U’tefillah in Brooklyn, NY.
“We have shown that … we empathize and feel with the suffering of another. While praiseworthy, it isn’t enough. True achdus-unity-is only through increased and heightened avodas (worship of) Hashem; when the nation makes a commitment to improve together, that is achdus. Doing things … that don’t take work, show empathy; but being moser nefesh (giving of ourselves) together can make a difference. When different segments of Klal Yisrael (the Jewish people) come together for a mitzvah or to generate an increased level of kedusha (holiness), that is achdus.”
This has taken place over the passed few weeks and we pray that in merit of this we should see salvation for the Jewish people and hear besuros tovos (good tidings).
May we soon see the coming of Moshiach and the end of all tragedies.