The Anguish of Unanswered Questions
Does every question have an answer? Does every tragedy have an explanation? How am I supposed to react to the beyond-tragic senseless murder of innocent men, women and children? What shall I think when two courageous individuals, a young couple that selflessly left the comforts of their hometowns and communities and went to far-off India to help their Jewish brothers and sisters, are gunned down by agents of pure evil?
I echo the words of horrified angels, exclaimed upon witnessing the barbaric murders of the holy Ten Martyrs, haunting words repeated each year in the Yom Kippur liturgy: "This is Torah and this is its reward?! Look, look, G‑d! See what the enemy is doing!""Look, look, G‑d! See what the enemy is doing!"
In my youth, I merited to bask in the presence of the Rebbe. As a rule, the Rebbe radiated optimism, faith and joy. His enthusiasm was infectious and uplifting.
But I have one memory that will never escape me. It was the 9th of Adar I 5752 (February 13, 1992). It was the last day of shiva for Mrs. Pesha Leah Lapine, a Crown Heights resident who was killed in cold blood by an assailant who broke into her home. That evening, the Rebbe addressed the crowd assembled in Lubavitch World Headquarters. I was stunned by the words—words uttered with such intense emotion and pain. The Rebbe was trembling, even his lectern was shaking.
The following is excerpted from the Rebbe's talk that night:
What has occurred – an act of open martyrdom – is utterly incomprehensible!
There is no one to whom to turn for an explanation. All those present, including myself, are equally confounded. So what do we gain by questioning? The question will remain...
To die al kiddush Hashem, for the sanctification of G‑d's Name, is an incredible merit—as is demonstrated by this episode:
The venerable Rabbi Yosef Karo reached such a high spiritual level that he was informed from Above that he had "earned" the merit to die al kiddush Hashem. Later, because of his involvement in an incident that was not appropriate – considering his exalted spiritual level – he was denied this privilege.
What happened afterwards? He lived many more fruitful years, and composed the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law. By authoring this universally accepted Code, Rabbi Karo, in effect, became the rabbi of all Jews until the end of times.
Yet despite all his subsequent achievements, he was "denied the privilege" of dying al kiddush Hashem; i.e., dying al kiddush Hashem would have been considered an even greater merit than being the rabbi of all Jews in all following generations!What do we gain by questioning?.
The greatness of dying al kiddush Hashem is amplified in this instance, for the victim was a young mother who left behind young children. Being taken from her children is a greater sacrifice than that of her own life. For this means that she must give over the upbringing and education of her children to others. This is the greatest sacrifice possible for a mother.
For many years to come – if, G‑d forbid, the fulfillment of the prophecy "Those that lie in the dust will arise and sing" will be delayed – these children will long for their mother. They will recount to their own children their intense longing for their mother; they will tell them that she merited to sanctify G‑d's Name...
Enough is enough! Have we not sufficed with all the martyrdom we have experienced until now?
And that which G‑d derives nachas and pleasure from a Jew's self-sacrifice—it suffices the self-sacrifice of a Jew who is in exile, with the knowledge that this exile has lasted more than 1,900 years—and Moshiach has yet to come!
Another day passes, another week passes, another moment passes... and Moshiach still has not come. We say and we think and cry out "Ad masai!", how long must we wait in exile? And yet what do we see happening? -- The sanctification of G‑d's Name; a Jewish soul is taken away; a mother is taken from her children.
May there be no further need to discuss these matters for the Redemption will come immediately. "Those that lie in the dust will arise and sing," and those who died al kiddush Hashem will merit to be resurrected first. And then this young woman will encounter her children and continue their education with a joyous heart.
May this take place in the immediate future, without any delay whatsoever.