How could this massacre have happened?!
This past week has been the toughest week of our lives. We have witnessed a miniature Holocaust in southern Israel and it’s far from over. Over 150 Jews are being held hostage in the hands of some of the worst barbarians the world has ever seen. Our hearts are broken and, for some of us, our faith is shaken. As a rabbi, I have spent every waking moment this week, counseling the grieving and guiding the bereft. As we enter the sixth day of this war, I wanted to share some of these thoughts with you, which I hope you will find comforting.
Where is G-d? How could He have allowed this to happen? What kind of G-d permits such tragedies?
The key to answering these challenging questions lies in the fascinating narrative of this week’s Torah portion, Bereishis—Genesis, the very first portion of the Torah as we begin reading it anew. It was on the sixth day of creation that G-d created Adam and Eve. He cautioned them from tasting the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but they couldn’t comply. Unable to resist the temptation, they ingested the fruit of the Tree and were thus endowed with the greatest gift G-d could give his creations—the gift of Freedom of Choice.
From this point on, mankind was able to choose between good and evil, allowing them to rise to the greatest heights of human kindness, but also with the option to plumb the darkest depths of human evil.
This is the meaning of Man being “created in the Image of G-d” (Genesis 1:26-28). Just as G-d is free to choose His own destiny, so too is man endowed with the same capacity.
What this means is that G-d was not responsible for the Holocaust—the evil Nazis were. G-d didn’t slaughter the nearly one thousand men, women, and children in Israel’s south this past Shabbos—the inhuman terrorists did. You can’t have it both ways: Either you have freedom of choice and exist in a world in which evil can exist, or you’re a mindless robot in a world with neither evil nor good. Given the choice, which would YOU choose?!
By giving us Free Will, G-d is putting it out of his Hands, so to speak! When we have the greatest gift of freedom and responsibility, the consequence is that bad things will happen. And we are thus compelled to fight it together.
Notwithstanding His entrusting us with the empowering gift of Freedom of Choice, G-d does intervene, by thwarting the enemy’s goals before they succeed fully. Were that not the case, the Jews would have long ago been relegated to the history books.
Hamas traumatized the world this week, with a new depth of evil that we never knew humanity was capable of. We need to counterbalance this darkness by showing the world, and more importantly ourselves, the great heights of which humanity is capable. Today we are called upon to reinvent our humanity in ways that we never previously thought possible.
The world is changed by your example, not by your feelings. We urge you today to reinvent your spirituality—your relationship with your Judaism and with G-d—by reaching new heights.
Dozens of members of our community have committed to laying Tefillin every day.
Countless women across the world will be lighting Shabbos candles on Friday afternoon before sunset, many of them for the first time in their lives.
Use the Chayenu app, now free, to study Torah from wherever you are, by clicking here: https://chayenu.org/#mobile-app
Print this short prayer book at JewishGardens.com/Pray to pour your heart out to G-d for the welfare of the valiant IDF soldiers, the hostages who are in such grave danger, and all of our brothers and sisters across the world in the line of fire.
Never Again isn’t about what happens TO us, it is about how we RESPOND to what happens to us.
Never Again will we be like sheep to the slaughter. Never Again will we be passive. Never Again will we wait for others to have mercy and compassion upon us.
Never Again means that, from now on, we will fight for our own self-determination. Never Again means that, from now on, we will use all resources and options necessary to defend our mothers and daughters, babies, and elderly. Never Again means that, from now on, we will fight with military might, flex political muscle, and increase in personal spiritual engagement to provide maximum protection and effectiveness to our cause!
It’s time to show the world and ourselves who we truly are.
Rabbi Dovid Vigler
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens
6100 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
JewishGardens.com | 561.624.2223