Is There Any Good Side To Tragedy?

For the most part, I hate attempts to explain tragedies in terms of “God is trying to teach us a lesson”. Ultimately, there is no way we can say why God, as it were, lets terrible things happen in the world and, specifically to עם ישראל (Am Yisrael), the Jewish People. Although many people try to say that Medinat Yisrael, the modern State of Israel, is the outcome of the Shoah (Holocaust), I find that sentiment to, at the very least, border on pornography. The most appropriate response to the question of “Why?” regarding the Shoah was spoken by one of my wonderful mentors, Rabbi Daniel Goldberger z”l, who is said to have replied to that question, “I can’t tell you why, but I can cry together with you.”

Nonetheless, even if we can’t understand why these tragedies occurred, we can, and must, find ways to respond to them in ways that move us, individually and as a people, forward. Rather than obscenely saying (as is the accepted political “wisdom” of the resentful in Europe and also in America) that the Shoah “created” Medinat Yisrael, let’s say that we, Am Yisrael, responded to that horror by founding the State of Israel. Thus, I’m desperately trying to find a way to transform the wave of savage murders and daily multiple attacks against every-day Israelis going on about their lives.

I recently wrote an article about fusion energy. At the time, I was thinking in abstract, kabbalistic concepts of yichudim, uniting ideas and levels of awareness/reality in order to reach the maximal energy state of Unity in/with God. However, there is an obvious phenomenon that, head in the clouds, I overlooked, and that is the drawing of the Jewish People closer together with one another.

Perhaps it requires as much energy to force us together in love and mutual support for each other as it does, allegorically, for two atoms to bond as required for a nuclear, rather than just a chemical, reaction. Under normal circumstances we are, after all, a very fractious people. In both cases, the positive energy yield in enormous.

To say that Jewish unity itself is a מצוה (mitzvah) is redundant. A mitzvah is not only a commandment and/or a good deed, the word itself contains the meaning of binding together. Binding ourselves together with each other, which has proven to take a tremendous amount of energy, allows us to bind ourselves together with The Creator, yielding exponential multiples of the energy expended.

Much of our work in the world consists of transforming evil to good, tragedy into triumph. One approach is to transform the שקר (sheker), the lies and illusions of ideologies that separate us from our fellow Jews into קשר (kesher), connection. Of course, this is a far from effort-free process, but like the technique underlying many of the martial arts, we can turn the force of our attackers against them by coming together, as we are doing, into our own אחדות (Achdut), unity.

I’m not whitewashing the savage terror Israelis face daily. Nor am I implying that we don’t need to do everything we can, including military action and, politically/diplomatically, applying sovereignty to Yehuda and Shomron, on the tachlis, real-world, sense, to combat and stop the terror attacks against us–of course we must do all this and more. I’m also not going to say that these attacks are all part of “God’s secret plan”. But I am definitely saying that since the terror began we find, even on the political level, much more unity among Israelis than we have had in a long time. We’re paying a terrible price for this so it would be an even greater tragedy to waste the potential energetic byproduct. Together and united, there is no limit to our potential to bring the world to fulfillment and welcome the longed-for Geula.

Keyn Yehi Ratzon.

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3 Responses to Is There Any Good Side To Tragedy?

  1. Mr. Cohen says:

    I might be wrong about this, but according to my very small understanding of Torah that I gained over the past 33 years, suffering accomplishes the following goals;

    [1] Suffering reminds us to repent,
    [2] suffering atones for our sins,
    [3] suffering reduces our arrogance and complacency,
    [4] it increases our humility and sensitivity to unfortunate people,
    [5] it increases the reward for our good deeds (Avot, end of chapter 5),
    [6] gives us opportunity to prove our faith in G_d and loyalty to Him.

    PS: * * * *

    • Of course there are ways to respond to suffering, especially those you suggest. Perhaps 2 and 3 combine to bring Jews together in support and unity. But we can never say that we understand Chachmat Elyon–that’s above our Sechel. We’re occasionally granted a glimpse, but not from our own efforts but because God, in His Ultimate Wisdom, gives us this glimpse.

  2. Mr. Cohen says:

    Duran Agba (a Muslim from Turkey in Miami) said:
    “…unfortunately, the only country in the Middle East that wants peace is Israel, and that is why I want to support them…”

    Muslim family hangs Israeli flag in their Miami store window
    by JTA, 2015/10/27

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