Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Prayer

Dear God,

I know that we now live at a time where Your face is hidden. It is called Hester Panim. I therefore realize that any attempts to ask questions about Your Divine purpose will remain unanswered. But I can’t help it. My heart cries out! I must ask - Why? Why did You want to take the life of a 33 year old woman in the heart of Jerusalem? Why this mother and wife… a woman married to the grandson of a Gadol… a woman who lived by your dictates… a woman who honored You by living a life of committed Torah observance?

Yesterday, in what appears to be a random act of violence by an Islamist Palestinian who lived in the Old City of Jerusalem three people were killed. One of them was Bat Sheva Unterman whose car was rammed by a bulldozer killing her instantly while her little infant child, Efrat, lay beside her.

One moment she was alive looking forward to a possible move to a new city with her family. The next moment she is dead. Covered with blood. The thought of what her husband and parents must be going through is unimaginable. The pain everyone will now suffer at this seemingly senseless act of violence is unavoidable.

And there are so many more instances of this. Koby Mandell - a 13 year old boy bludgeoned to death with large rocks the size of bowling balls by Palestinian terrorists - comes to mind. His parents must have suffered untold pain for this. Why? I know You won’t answer. But I must nevertheless ask.

And what about those eight Kedoshim from Yeshvat Merkaz HaRav who were among the best Torah Jewry has to offer. The cream of the cream. All very young. All very innocent. All savagely murdered by a Palestinian who lived in the old city of Jerusalem. Why the need to take them from their families – and from their people?

For reasons known only to You, You have seen fit to torment Your people in this way. I know You have Your reasons. But what have we done as a people to deserve this at this moment in history - so soon after the holocaust? I ask this with Emunah Shelaima - complete faith and with all the love, awe, and reverence for You that I have in my soul - B’Chol L'vovcha U’Bchol Nafshecha - was the holocaust not enough?

Tzadik V’Ra Lo. Why do the righteous suffer? This is theodicy. But how can we make sense of the insensible? There are no satisfying answers although many traditional explanations are given.

There may be personal circumstances that only God is aware of. And there is something called Yisurim Shel Ahava. These are trials and tribulations given to righteous people - not for sins they commit - but accepted in joy as a preface to greater reward in the world to come. Rav Ahron Soloveichik until the very end of his life used to refer to the constant pain he suffered resulting from his stroke as Yissruim Shel Ahava.

And we know that Divine justice prevails and will be carried out in the world to come. But I can’t help but wonder with pain in my heart - what purpose is there? Is there a lesson to be learned here? What is it that requires tragedies like this one? Can we not learn those lessons without a 33 year old mother losing her life in violent attacks?

Dear God - I pray that You see fit in your Infinite wisdom to stop letting our enemies kill and torture us. Please grant salvation to us. We have been yearning for redemption throughout our existence. How much more must we - Your people - suffer?