Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Comments of Baruch C. Cohen, Esq., on the Mercaz HaRav Tragedy
We are in painful times. How can we think of Adar and how can we think of being BeSimcha, when tragedies surround us. When our friends in Los Angeles suffer tragic losses in one felt swoop.
Can mere words describe the magnitude of the tragedy across the world in Yerushalayim at Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav Kook? The outpouring of grief, the pure Yiddishe Tzaar, the tears and the anguish were so powerful and tragic that no person with a heart could remain unmoved. No person at that tragic levaya of eight innocent Bochurim could return to mundane, everyday life. None of the attendees could return home to eat lunch, read the paper, or even engage in the pursuit of parnassa. All felt the instinctive pull to bury their tear-stained faces in a Gemara, in a Tehillim, or anything that could invoke Divine mercy and beg Hashem, “Mi she’omar l’olamo dai, yomar litzaroseinu dai.”
For those not at the levaya, just the media pictures of eight figures wrapped in Tachrichim lined up next to each other were heartbreaking. And as Ehrliche Yidden, we have an obligation to be Noseh B’ol, to share the burden of tragedy with those directly affected. Just think of the parents, the fathers and mothers of these bochurim, who raised these children from infancy, merited to watch them grow and blossom, and sent them to learn in yeshiva. The pain that is their lot and will continue to be their lot is something that we, as Jews, are obligated to feel. Their pain should be our pain. Their tragedy is our tragedy. It is the most elementary duty of being Noseh B’ol Im Chaveiro. It’s the calling card of a Yid.
In this week’s Yated Neman, Avrohom Birnbaum wrote a very powerful editorial entitled: "We are all Mercaz HaRav" wherein he registers his voice in disgust and dismay at the secular Jewish Israeli press’ coverage of this tragedy. Within a few hours of the heinous bloodbath, while Zaka volunteers were still scraping blood off the yeshiva’s floor, both the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz had editorial analysis on the tragedy. In the most detached fashion, their Jewish journalists began to analyze the “symbolism” and political ramifications of the tragedy. Firstly, for any Jew to write such an analysis within two hours of an attack shows tremendous callousness and lack of elementary feeling for the tragedy. In addition, are we so foolish that we do not realize that the Arab who attacked the “flagship institution of the religious Zionist movement” would just as soon murder us, our mothers, our fathers, our sons or our daughters in cold blood? The ability of these reporters to analyze Olmert’s political fallout when bodies were still being removed from the yeshiva attests to a most disturbing disconnect. Do we not realize that this is an existential war? This is a war for the survival of every last Jew in Eretz Yisroel and in the Diasporah, regardless of political views, religious observance or anything else. This disconnect from reality of the seemingly most astute people in the country, who through their role in the press shape public opinion, has come to the fore and the lessons to be learned are downright terrifying. Is it only the Torah community who understands this? Make no mistake: this is a war for survival and that our heads and our children’s heads are just as vulnerable as those of the eight murdered kedoshim.
In truth, although it is painful to admit, in the aftermath of the tragedy we have observed that even some fringe elements of our community seem to be analyzing what message the bloodthirsty terrorists were sending and, Lehavdil, what Divine message is inherent in the fact that bloodthirsty terrorists attacked the religious Zionist yeshiva of Merkaz Harav. Do we not understand that to the majority of Arabs, we are the same as Merkaz Harav? They will attack any target, any Jew and any yeshiva upon which they can get their bloodthirsty hands. How foolish it is for simple, superficial people to view a tragedy in such a detached way - as if it is us and them. Yes, we may have ideological differences with religious Zionist Hashkafa, but what does that have to do with the tragic loss of eight kedoshim? They were killed because they were Jewish and the terrorists would kill us or any Jew, just because we are Jewish. There have been Korbanos from all segments of Jewry - Chareidim, Religious Zionists, secularists and everyone in between. Rather than playing analyst, we should be Davening and doing Teshuvah when blood of Jewish yeshiva bochurim is being spilled.
I think it is worthwhile to quote the previous Klausenberger Rebbe zt”l from a Chumash-Rashi shiur said in 1984. The Klausenberger Rebbe offered practical advice on what believing Jews should do in such terrible situations, advice that seems as current today as when he gave it 25 years ago. “We must strengthen ourselves in emunah and understand that two things are completely above and beyond the normal order of nature. One is the terrible Jew hatred and wickedness that has gripped the Arabs. The second is the power of our Emunah and Yiras Shomayim, an Emunah and Yiras Shomayim that invests in us the ability to completely distance ourselves from having anything to do with these wicked people.” Let us not be swayed by the words of ‘experts,’ professors,’ and secular journalists who constantly spew venomous hatred of our holy Torah [while advocating suicidal “cooperation with the Arabs]” “Tayereh Yidden - Dear Jews, let us come together, let us not be afraid of the ever strengthening powers of wickedness that seek to prevail. Let us grab onto the Holy Torah and simple emunah. Only then will Hashem help us."
What powerful moving and relevant words to us then, and to us now.