Dear Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev,
In case you are on speaking terms with G-d today, and no one could blame you if you aren’t, could you relay a message? At the moment, I can’t seem to talk to Him. At least without being angry. And that kind of scares me. It is no little thing to be mad at G-d. So I think it’s best for me to remain quiet. But I’m kind of hoping, okay, I’m really hoping, that you, the Defender of Israel, are having a few angry words with Him.
I hope you are asking Him, “When will it be enough?” I take that back. If I’m being completely honest, I want you to tell Him, “Die, maspeek!” “Stop, enough!”
I know I wasn’t the only one who thought the murder of the three boys was when He would draw the line. Surely, I naively thought, their stolen lives would favorably tip the scales. But their murder wasn’t enough. Because the baby, Chaya Zissel was murdered. And as I write her name, I know I’m forgetting so many others. The little boy. The one just leaving home. Leaving just in time to be hit by a rocket. The beautiful young woman, the one whose throat was slashed. And too many others, who Israel doesn’t even have time to properly mourn, because news of the next victim takes their place in their hearts and minds. And the thing is lately, the deaths don’t just seem like deaths. They seem like jabs. Ask Hashem why? Why does He keep jabbing Israel?
Teshuva. Repentence. Brotherly love. Keeping the commandments. Walking in His ways. Service of the heart. Justice. Yes, He’s listed throughout His Book what He wants. But ask Him again. What does He really want? Ask for specifics. Because the Jews who I know give Him all He wants and more. Their lives are walking, living, breathing Torah scrolls; all for Him. But apparently they and people like them aren’t enough.
You and I both know kol Israel is not perfect. Yet, you, the Defender of Israel, always found a way, and I believe you still find away to present your fellow Jews favorably before the Heavenly Courts. How weary you must be. Not of your people. But of Heaven’s response.
If six million were not enough for tikkun . . . If babies are not enough . . . If men in the middle of beseeching the Heavens for kindness, favor, healing, protection, and redemption are not enough, then what exactly does He want? What? Who? When will it be enough?
And one last thing. In case the following words did not get said in time by the men before they were gunned down and hacked in the middle of their prayers, please tell Hashem the following: You are the strength of our life, the shield of our salvation in every generation. We will give thanks to You and recount Your praise, evening, morning and noon, for our lives which are committed into Your hand, for our souls which are entrusted to You, for Your miracles which are with us daily, and for Your continual wonders and beneficences. You are the Beneficent One, for Your mercies never cease; the Merciful One, for Your kindnesses never end; for we always place our hope in You.
This must be the reason you advocate so much for your fellow Jews and believed and still believe they are so remarkable. Despite everything, they still believe and place their hope in Him. And so do I. Tell Him that for me, please, since at the moment, I can’t seem to find the words.
From Among the Nations