Rabbi Steinsaltz, His Murdered Students And A Call To Action

Today, I watched my mentor cry.

I picked up the car phone to learn that the bodies of the three kidnapped boys – Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach , Gil-ad Shaar – had been found. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, their teacher, my mentor, was beside me in the car. It was my sad job to let him know.

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Rabbi Steinsaltz, perhaps the wisest Jewish sage of our time, is the Dean of the Mekor Chaim high school, where two of the boys were students, and where I too had the privilege of studying. The news splashed across his face and turned it white. Tears streamed down his cheeks. Uncontrollably, he repeated the Psalmist’s words: “For Your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep!”

“Why?” I asked him. “Why, Rabbi, does God do this?” He was silent. But I knew that he was not ignoring the question. Quite the opposite: he was answering it, through his reverberating silence. Indeed, these tragedies are inexplicable. Sometimes, God is irrational. He is beyond understanding. “All we can do,” Rabbi Steinsaltz told me after a long pause, “is shout and protest.” Again, he quoted the same Psalm (chapter 44): “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not abandon us forever!”

But it was the lesson that he drew from this tragedy that most moved me: “People will light memorial candles, recite prayers, and attend vigils,” he said. “Our boys were killed al Kiddush Hashem, because they were Jews.”

The Rabbi went on, “Therefore, to best honor their memories – indeed, to confront evil –we must act always as proud Jews, in our deeds and through our lives.”

A dark cloud has befallen our nation today. Our hearts are broken, yet united with the hearts of the boys’ families, as we mourn and we cry with them. We cannot erase the evil. But we can create good. We can transform the world through goodness by living as Jews and acting as Jews, with our Torah and mitzvot.

Let us demonstrate to the world that “the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied” (Exodus 1:12), and that the very Jewish soul that our enemies so wish to destroy, is alive and vibrant as ever.

Until the day, when God “will destroy death forever, and wipe away the tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:8). Amen.

About the Author
Rabbi Pinchas Allouche is the founding Rabbi of Congregation Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he resides with his wife, Esther, and nine children. He is a respected rabbinic figure, a renowned lecturer, and a prominent author of many essays on the Jewish faith, mysticism, and social-criticism. Besides his academic pedigree, Rabbi Allouche is richly-cultural, having lived in France, where he was born, South Africa and Israel. He is also fluent in English, Hebrew, French and Italian. Rabbi Allouche is a member of AIPAC's National Council, and a member of the Vaad Harabanim, the Orthodox Rabbinic Council of Arizona. Rabbi Allouche's wise, profound, and sensitive perspective on the world and its people, on life and living, is highly regarded and sought-after by communities and individuals of all backgrounds. Rabbi Allouche is also tremendously involved in the Jewish community of Greater Phoenix, and he teaches middle-school Judaics at the local Jewish Day School. Rabbi Allouche is also a blogger for many online publications including the Huffington Post, and The Times of Israel. Rabbi Allouche was listed in the Jewish Daily Forward as one of America's 36 Most Inspiring Rabbis, who are "shaping 21st Century Judaism." Rabbi Allouche can be reached at: Rabbi@BethTefillahAZ.org
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