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In Memory of the Mumbai Martyrs

In Memory of the Mumbai Martyrs

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I am stunned. The pain of our holy nation of Israel at this time cannot be described. Our fellow Jews, amongst them Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the beloved directors of Chabad of Mumbai, were killed during the terrorist attacks that just struck India. May G‑d avenge their blood!

I'm trying to articulate how I feel and how I am certain every Jew feels at this time. But I just cannot. Instead of an analysis of a broken heart, I am going to share a Torah thought with you in memory of the victims. May G‑d have mercy on His people!

In this week's Torah portion, Toldot, we read about the life of our patriarch Isaac, the first born-Jew. In celebrating the birth and development of his son Isaac, our forefather Abraham made a feast. The Torah tells us (Genesis 21:8) that is was "big." The Midrash explains that it was big by virtue of the impressive guest list, which featured the greatest and the brightest of the generation, including the infamous giant named Og, king of Bashan.

"What is this kid worth?" he sneered. "With one finger I could squash him"

This Og wasn't just big for his size. He was literally a giant. In fact, according to the Talmud, during Noah's Flood, he managed to survive by hanging on to the roof of the Ark.

The baby boy Isaac was brought to the feast. Amidst the coos and smiles there was a smirk and a nasty comment from Og. "What is this kid worth?" he sneered. "With one finger I could squash him."

One imagines that such a comment quieted the crowd. But a voice was heard in response. It was G‑d Himself. "By your life, you will see thousands ands tens of thousands of his children. Your end will be that you will fall into their hands."

Needless to say that is exactly what happened. Og managed to live till the times of Moses, as he was leading the Jewish People to the Promised Land. Moses did battle with Og and slew him single-handedly. So much for big Og and his strength. The Jew prevailed, although apparently weaker and smaller.

This has been the story of our history ever since. They think they can squash us. They think we are weak. They never succeeded. They never will.

Friends, let us remain united in our uncompromising demand from the Almighty to send us Moshiach speedily and end the pain and suffering forever more. The Torah's prescription for situations such as these is to remain focused on life. Together we will overcome our enemies and flourish!


Rabbi Yossy Gordon was born in Worcester, Mass., and serves as Executive Vice President of the Chabad on Campus International. Rabbi Gordon makes his home in Miami Beach, Fla., with his wife, Rochel, and their six children.
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Arthur Ramesh Washington DC, USA December 1, 2008

We(Indians) are sorry As an Indian, I apologize to all my jewish brothers/sisters for our inability to save the Jewish rabbi and his wife. We, hindus have a long and cherished history of welcoming oppressed people from the time of Cleopatra. We have never in our history turned our back to any visitor, even the ones who came to colonize us. But today, we are ashamed that we could not protect a young jewish couple and have forever have to live with the guilt of seeing a 2 year old baby becoming an orphan. WE ARE SORRY. Reply

Debashis Bangalore, India December 1, 2008

I am deeply pained I am deeply pained as a human being at the loss of human lives in Mumbai attack. I pay my homage to all the people who lost their lives. Jews were and will remain to be our friend. They were our guests and we couldn't save their lives. I am deeply pained and sorry for that. My deep condolences are with the families who lost their dear one. Reply

Naren Bangalore, India November 29, 2008

Anguish and Anger My heart goes out to those killed in Mumbai. Hundreds of lives cut short by a group of madmen. Among lots of people killed the story of 2 year old newly orphaned Moshe stands out. It seems the poor kid was crying out when the maid scooped him away from his parents to safety. There are tears in my eyes as I write this. Apart from unspeakable anguish, there is also a brewing anger. How can we allow a nation like Pakistan to exist - its in complete anarchy, and a breeding center for terrorists. Unfortunately, my country has a malfunctioning intelligentsia and a non-functioning political leadership (both ruling as well as opposition). I hope the state of Israel takes some action (esp. since its citizens as well were killed).

I fell in love with Israel even before I visited there. After my visit, I remain an ardent friend and supporter of the Jewish people. Reply

P. Stempel San Marcos, CA November 29, 2008

Shared sorrow. I am personally deeply saddened by the deaths of Rabbi & Rivka Holzberg and their fellow missionaries in the terrorist attacks in Mombai. They will be remembered in my prayers.

Know too that this Catholic will praise the names of these servants of the G-D of Abaraham. Reply

Thomas Karp New Haven, Ct. November 28, 2008

Reminded also of- how Moshe was saved from destruction in the first place as described in written Torah.

Of course, in this instance it wasn't by Pharaoh's daughter; but-

I wouldn't be surprised if G-d didn't make a related purpose for it here.

Many of the Jewish sages have speculated as to how good can come out from evil.

How else could Israel have prevailed thus far?

Yasher Koach! Reply

Elizabeth L/ Island Park, ID November 28, 2008

Sorrow Mu husband and I feel great sorrow for the loss of you beloved people. They are martyrs. Reply

What's the latest news? For that information, check your local or national news outlet. In this blog we will discuss the "why?"

Not "why did this event occur?" but "why did I find out about it?" There must be a reason. It must contain a lesson I can use to better myself and my surroundings. Together we will find the lessons...
Rabbi Yossy Gordon was born in Worcester, MA, and serves as Executive Vice President of the Chabad on Campus International. Rabbi Gordon makes his home in Miami Beach, FL, with his wife Rochel and their six children.
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