As Shabbos concluded and the news arrived from Sandy Hook Elementary School, a feeling of numbness came upon us. The unthinkable and incomprehensible had really occurred. I naïvely hoped that the shocking news of Friday afternoon would miraculously disappear on Motzei Shabbos; however, alas, it was not to be. The realization that a twenty year old man had massacred 27 people including his own mother and 20 innocent children; all who were six and seven years old is too horrible to comprehend.
The two questions which plagues us is: “how” and “why”?
We all awake in the morning and plan out our day.
We have places to go to and people to see; goals to be accomplished and dreams to live.
On Friday, for 20 innocent and cherubic children all of those dreams and wished were dashed and destroyed forever.
We have to feel their pain; empathize with them for their loss and work hard not to allow misplaced feelings of tribalism to cause us to be anything less than empathetic and in sync with the feeling of national mourning which has subdued the entire country.
Any specific question of whether one ‘of our own’ was killed must be avoided. Rather, we should realize and remember that all of those were killed were created in the ‘Image of Hashem’!
As the Mishna in Pirkei Avos teaches us:
Beloved is man, for he was created in the image [of G-d]; … as it is says, “For in the image of
G-d, He made man” (Genesis 9:6). (3:14)
According to the commentators (Magen Avos, Chasid Ya’avetz, Abbarbenel, Tosfos Yom Tov and many others) this reality of man being beloved by Hashem because he was created in His image applies to all human beings and not exclusively to Jews.
The Gemara in Beitza (32b)- says: “Whoever has compassion for Hashem’s creations this is sign that he is a true descendent of Avraham Avinu. And whoever has no compassion for Hashem’s creations it is known that he is not from the descendants of Avraham. “
The Gemara does not say ‘compassion for other Jews’; rather, it clearly states ‘for His creations!’
Jew and non-Jew!
Everyone one of us must realize that we are all in this plague of senseless murder sprees together.
Today in my Shul we said Tehillim and beseeched G-d to give insight and wisdom to the leaders of our country -which Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l termed a ‘malchus (government) of Chesed (kindness)’- to allow them to totally terminate this increasingly endemic cycle of violence.
Today is Zos Chanuka– meaning- “This Is Chanuka”.
If there is one lesson for us to take with us from Chanuka it is the realization that without Torah and its objective and supreme morality, man can and will quickly descend into the petrifying pit of brutality and savagery.
Chanuka reminds us to live by the light of the morality and compassion of the Torah.
We must continue to be a ‘Light to the Nations’.
As the Navi Yeshaya (52:6) states: “I am the Lord; I called you with righteousness and I will strengthen your hand; and I formed you, and I made you for a people’s covenant, for a light to nations.”
We must feel the pain of our fellow Americans; we must beseech Hashem to end this plague of violence and we must work hard to insure that all of our own actions are befitting the descendants of Avraham Avinu.