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Why Did the Sandy Hook Massacre Happen?

Why Did the Sandy Hook Massacre Happen?

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This morning at my children’s school, a teacher stood at the back door welcoming students and another watched as cars pulled around the drop-off circle. Their school has excellent safety protocols on any given day but today everyone was extra cautious.

Friends asked if I was nervous bringing my kids to school. I wasn't. I was sad.

I absolutely refuse to live in fearI was sad as I made lunches, thinking about the 20 lunches that never were eaten on Friday. I was sad as I shouted "Have a great day!" thinking how I have never wondered before if they wouldn't be standing there at the end of it.

I was sad but I wasn't scared. Not because I don't think it could happen in my children's school. I know it could. I wasn't scared because I don't see the point. And I absolutely refuse to live in fear.

There are endless articles and arguments looking for something or someone to blame. If only the teachers were armed. If only guns were outlawed. If only there was better security. If only there was better mental health awareness. If only the media didn't glamorize the killers.

If only...

My youngest daughter asked me last night why G‑d let this happen. I told her the only thing I could think to say. I don't know.

And I don't.

My children never had the luxury of being naïve about death and destruction. Having lived in Israel for nine years, my children were unfortunately accustomed to seeing the faces of beautiful babies on the covers of newspapers and automatically asking if they had been killed. When they got together with a family we were very close to who had barely survived a deadly bus bombing, they would play “pigua” (terrorist attack) as a way of dealing with what they had experienced.

This world is a dream. Sometimes a nightmareWe are stuck in exile. And it hurts. But this is not the ultimate reality. And the sages teach us that when redemption comes, when Moshiach is here, that he will have a lot of explaining to do. That is when we will get our answers. We recite in Psalm 126: “hayinu k’cholmim” meaning that when Moshiach comes we will realize we were “like dreamers.” This world is a dream. Sometimes a nightmare. Things don’t always make sense. But who says they are supposed to?

Moshiach will come with or without us. But we can hasten his arrival. It is up to us to do whatever we can to end this exile. We do this through our good deeds, our lovingkindness, our positive actions. They count, each and every one of them. We just saw what two minutes of utter terror could do. We cannot underestimate what two minutes of goodness will do. We may not see the effects as immediately or as clearly, but the impact is most definitely there.

Just about anywhere we look we can find tragedy, pain and suffering. But if we look a bit harder, we can find beauty, love and support. It is a question of what we care to see. What we care to focus on.

We just began the Hebrew month of Tevet. As Tevet begins, the light in the day starts to slowly become a little more each day. Sunset each week is just a few minutes later. And according to Jewish mysticism, each Hebrew month is represented by a letter. The letter for the month of Tevet is the ayin which means “eye.” The name of the month, Tevet, shares the same root as the word for “good” which is tov.

Fear is debilitating. Love is transformativeIf all we see when we look at the world is the negative, it will paralyze us. It will make it impossible to move forward, to grow, to develop. Fear is debilitating. Love is transformative. It is up to us to find that good. To see that good.

No one can explain why the world lost 26 precious souls at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Not yet. Not in exile. But we can open our eyes and force ourselves to see not only the terror but the beauty that emerged from the tragedy. Look at the incredible support the world over. Look at the care and love. Look at the unbelievable self-sacrifice the Sandy Hook teachers and staff displayed. As a sign in Newtown said, “Our hearts are broken but our spirits are strong.”

While we will never forget what happened, we will get through this. We will combat the darkness by creating more light. And through every act of goodness we will bring the world one step closer to the redemption that we so desperately need.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the co-director of Interinclusion, a nonprofit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org, and wrote the popular weekly blog Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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desert voice Cracow, Poland July 16, 2014

Morality & gun concealment by parents. Both morality and parental wisdom are necessary. I never made any claim against these two things! Your disagreement with me appears to be a matter of nuances. As a Catholic, I always put morality first, for morality is a Divine Commandment to human beings, whereas wisdom is a gift from God, which we can either use, or misuse! We cannot expect God doing all the work for us. We must cooperate with Him! If we do not value of life, like in the case of abortion, our children will also lack this moral sense! This in turn reflects on the gift of Wisdom, without which we won't stop our children from getting guns! In short, it's all related. Those people who honor God, need no guns in the first place! I have never owned a gun in the United States! Lastly, I disagree with you that different situations change how people react in so far the gun issue, possession, use, and control. Nations and situations vary, but people's natures remain fundamentally the same. Reply

David Chester Petach Tikva, Israel July 15, 2014

Gun Availability Surely we are discussing the Sandy Hook tragedy and not some Argentinian uncontrollable situation. So "desert voice" you don't need to agree with me, its a different situation. Of course, even in the US there are unlicenced guns available and some children will inevitably gain access to them, but what I am claiming is that parental responsibility goes beyond the teaching of good morals (as you rightly claim), it also requires the securing of these weapons for sensible use by adults too. Reply

desert voice Cracow, Poland July 14, 2014

Guns v. Morality: What works? I do not agree with David Chester. It's not about gun availability or where to hide them! The criminal element will always group together and hang together, and share information on where the guns are! The real and only solution is to teach children right from wrong! The unimpeded access to guns is an addictional factor,but I have lived in societies like Argentina, where guns are not available to the general public, but guns are circulating freely among children and teenagers from the villa miserias - the society's poorest elements. Just watch programs on "Villa Devoto", or "the pibes del barrio (personal intervievs in childrennns' detention houses"). It is shown in those documentaries that children as young as 11 engage among themselve in gun battles, are frequently killed and bear scars of gun wounds! I know these recounts are true, for I lived among them for 12 years! And think, we are talking a gunless society! Reply

David Chester Petach Tikva, Israel July 13, 2014

The simple reason for this shooting is because unlike other countries, the US allows its citizens access to fire-arms, without controlling who can later use them. Adults who keep their weapons safely locked up, so that children cannot use them, are being responsible parents. But so many home-stored weapons do not have this precaution taken (as a condition for their availability), so it is a wonder that there are only a few of these terrible tragedies. Reply

Anonymous July 7, 2014

Why? I must comment. I am a 13 year old boy just curious on the tragic day because I have always been curious on why would that man that could have been going through pain have to make everybody hurt and why that's the big question for me.
WHY? When I had heard what happened to those little kids I have been interested in why these school shootings happen and at my school we did this thing called Friends Of Rachel and what it is about is a high school girl named Rachel Joy Scoot and she attended the high school in Colorado and was shot and killed and the story behind that was those two kids were bullied and so they went and shot people which isn't right and maybe the man that caused the Sandy Hook shooting was having problems but WHY didn't he just go and get help. Why? Reply

Josh P. Seattle, WA December 23, 2012

To Anonymous Regardless of whether society looks toward us or not, we're nonetheless required to be that light because that is what the Highest Wisdom commanded us to aspire to and achieve. All humanity has free will to choose its own actions. Reply

Anonymous USA, Brooklyn December 22, 2012

To Chaya Gross Society isn’t looking to the Jewish people as a “light” any more than they look at the Amish as a light. Reply

karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell riverside, ca December 21, 2012

from a friend in connecticut asking for prayer we are still in heavy mourning here in Connecticut. I knew two of the teachers and one of the students that were killed in the massacre st Sandy Hook Elementary School. The little angel was the daughter of one of the teachers from our city. It is completely horrific. Twenty children dead. Six teachers dead. My son in law was one of the first responders. He will never be the same. Please keep us in your prayers. Reply

Sandra Moreno Dallas, Texas December 20, 2012

Great Job Your story really touched my heart. Just to think of the staff members and mostly the children makes me cry ...... Great Job sara .. Reply

michoel in las vegas nevada December 20, 2012

our re-ACTION I like your article sara. I am still really sad and hurt. I don't know why cause i've never met any of the victims or their parents but it really hurts. Whatever the reason i believe that at this point while we are still burying the dead one should keep silent about the if's,buts,whys. let the people mourn let the nation mourn. there will be time to take action but right now is not the time. as pirkei avos says "do not placate a person while his dead lies before him. there is one thing that we can do. we can do exactly what the shooter did but the oppisite. we can do random acts of good, to random people for now reason at all but to bring more good into the world. one more mitzvah, one more kind act. this can tip the scales and bring moshiach now. amen Reply

Midget01 La Porte December 19, 2012

The Sandy Hook Massacre People want to know why. We take G-d out of everything that is American because those who don't believe say we don't need Him. Yet who is the person we blame, It is not Him. We are all given free choice from creation & although some choose to make bad ones it was not His choice but the man who shot them. The Gun did not go off it self the man made the choice to pull the trigger. Who do we turn to Our Government to stop this. Who is taking G-d out of the Schools Our Government!!!! If you look at the states that have gun control they have the highest crime. If our government turns on us who will protect us then. I know these are not issues anyone wants to deal with but when something happens everyone blames G-d. When do we step forward & begin praying & asking G-d for His help. I too hurt for these children but who do I blame- the man who made the choice to do this. Not how he did it, where he did it but that he made the choice to do it. He would have found a way if not gun? Reply

desert voice Cracow, Poland December 19, 2012

Sara Crispe makes a good point: "I absolutely refuse to live in fear". She also scores a few points by telling people "to dwell on the positive." But she is remarkably short on answer why Sandy Hook massacre happened and how to prevent future Sandy Hooks! Speaking of fear, a week ago, in Poland, I stood up to fifteen young men terrorizing people in a tram. There more than a 100 other people who were dead silent. I asked, why are you silent? They were too afraid even to answer. So I confronted the tughs, telling them that they shamed my country, and that I will not tolerate that they spoil my native land with their stench. Their first reaction was to get pail. Then as they became threateningly angry, someone called police and they were all taken into custody. At that, I said to a passenger: there will be no freedom in Poland as long as there is fear. Now, to Sandy Hook. It happened because the School Board refused to teach boys like Adam Lanza morality! And the parents said nothing! Reply

pogo December 19, 2012

fear "If all we see when we look at the world is the negative, it will paralyze us. It will make it impossible to move forward, to grow, to develop. Fear is debilitating." We know that none of these people or their families or even the Lanza family should suffer such horrific tragedy, but in the face of the unspeakable it is most important to reassure and embrace those involved with love and compassion, patience and courage. the world suffers form the loss, but we suffer most because we have not learned that no person can ever be replaced. So many things are just beyond human comprehension, but one thing we must learn is to love one another and give comfort in time of sorrow. Reply

David Chester Petach Tikva December 19, 2012

"Bad Ideas are more Dangerous than Big Guns" This quote comes from an old book I have about mathematical logic. The US gun laws are about to change, but by themselves they will not stop these kinds of trajedies from occuring. The cause behind it was inadequate social aid being given to those unfortunate people in society whose mental balence is disturbed and who cannot tell right from wrong.

How many more regengeful young people are there out there waiting and planning to take the lives of innocent victims? Soon it will be necessary to screen for weapons of all kinds every person who enters a school compound, as well as in other public places--a process which us Israelis have been accepting during the terrorist times which are gradually passing.

The US government must wake up to the need for spending money for the employment of effective security measures using trained personnel and detecting machines as presently used in shopping malls and other places in Israel. Reply

Gigi Bulgaria December 19, 2012

a dicision There is G-d and evil..good and bad, and everybody has a choice what he wants to do. The young man who killed choose evil, bad, and he will get judged one day for it. We have to put all sadness on G-d and He is given strength, love and hope to all who lost a love one in all tragedy's in the world. I hope our Moshiach will come back soon, and may G-d wrapped His arms around all releatives who lost a love one in this terrible tragedy. Why does people do bad ? Because the lost their faith in G-d or they never believed in G-d. They still do not know what they are doing. Reply

Chaya Gross Jerusalem/Akko December 19, 2012

His name was Noah hy Of course there are no "answers" but we must take this tragedy to heart.
Noahides is the name give to all mankind after the flood. As Jews we
have an obligation, being that we are G-d's chosen people to truly be a
light unto the nations, of which a big part, is teaching then the seven universal
laws for all mankind. In Noah's merit we must take this "mission" much more
seriously. One of the seven is not to murder!

Yes, we must increase in acts of goodness and kindness, but as Jews our
responsibility is so much greater.
May we continue spreading the lights of Channukah until we reach every home
and every heart, so ultimately the exile will be banished and the redemption of
the entire world will be fulfilled with the revelation of Moshiach. Reply

J R ISRA EL December 19, 2012

Thanks I sit in a room of first graders every school day...in a suburb that is not thinking that we could be targeted...this is very disturbing...and very sad....my husband keeps reminding me I must remember..."He wil keep him in inperfect peace whoes mind in styed on Him because He trusted in the L-rd G-d.." Reply

zs brooklyn December 18, 2012

Look for the Good That's a good idea, Thank you! Reply

Steven Kalka December 18, 2012

An honest reflective response to a tragedy I appreciate your honest, thoughtful response. It's a needed respite from the endless political responses; an oasis from all the talking heads with the predictable unsatisfying responses. Reply

Kayo December 18, 2012

I have difficulty accepting your words, "the beauty that emerged from the tragedy". Reply