The clouds are ominous, the heavens are crying

R. Yaakov Orenstein (1775-1839) was the author of Responsa Yeshuat Yaakov. His son died at a very young age. In his eulogy, the father quoted a passage from the Talmud (Sukkah 29a) that says the sun is punished when a scholar’s burial is incongruent with halakha.
Midrashically, he explained, this gemara is referring to a person who dies at a young age. Such a burial is incongruent with halakha. Halakha, he cried, sets rules for how a son should handle parental burial. There are, however, no halakhot about how parents are supposed to handle the burial of their offspring—because that is not supposed to happen. Parents should not have to bury their young children, he wailed.
The apocryphal follow up is that as he finished his eulogy there was a sudden downpour. The sun disappeared because the heavens were crying. (The sun, as the Talmud says, was “punished.”)
For the nineteen sets of parents from Uvalde, Texas, to now have to plan the burial of their little children – that is unnatural. The heavens are undoubtedly crying today; In the privacy of His inner chambers, God is shedding inconsolable tears for the many innocent lives violently cut short. (See Chagiga 5b)
“G‑d, full of mercy, Who dwells on high, grant true rest upon the wings of the Shechinah, in the exalted spheres of the holy and pure, who shine as the resplendence of the firmament, to these tinokot shel beis raban; little school-age youngsters, שלא טעמו טעם חטא, whose souls are pure, sacred, and without a blemish. Their pure young lives have been violently snuffed out by a callous and cold-blooded murderer. May their place of rest be in Gan Eden.
Av HaRachamim, shelter them with the cover of Your wings forever, pacify their bullet-ridden souls and bind them in the bond of life. The Lord is their heritage; may they rest in their resting-place in peace, cradled in your loving embracing and healing arms; and let us say: Amen.
To paraphrase the prophet Isaiah: May massacres be eliminated forever, and may you wipe the tears and caress the faces of the devastated moms and dads who will never again be able to love and caress these nineteen deceased young angels.
About the Author
Rabbi Ysoscher Katz is the Senior Rabbi of PHS, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and Chair of the Talmud department at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. He received ordination in 1986 from Rabbi Yechezkel Roth, dayan of UTA Satmer. Rabbi Katz studied in Brisk and in Yeshivat Beit Yosef, Navaradok for more ten years, and is a graduate of the HaSha'ar Program for Jewish Educators, Rabbi Katz taught at the Ma'ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls and SAR High School, and gave a popular daf yomi class in Brooklyn for more than eight years.
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