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How could tragedy come to the wedding?

How could tragedy come to the wedding?



Why would G‑d take a father by a massive heart attack as he's dancing at his daughter's wedding? None of the upwards of 50 Rabbis at the wedding could save my brother-in-law, nor could the doctors. I don't understand how this can happen. I don't know what to say to my niece and her new husband. I don't understand how G‑d could let this happen.


As soon as I received your message, I recalled a memo the Rebbe wrote in response to a similar situation. I don't know the year or the place. All I know is that the event was the dedication of a new Torah scroll in the home of its donors. And that a young woman died there suddenly.

Neither is it clear who wrote these questions to the Rebbe. It seems it was someone who didn't need everything spelled out, since the Rebbe answered him point by point, in cryptic form. Or perhaps it was just a matter of getting the answer to this person as soon as possible. The questions suggest that many saw this as a bad omen and that the hosts' conscience weighed heavy upon them with self-blame.

At any rate, I've taken the liberty of expanding and elaborating on the Rebbe's Hebrew notes, while endeavoring to stick strictly to their intent:

Question #1: How is it possible that a celebration such as this could be the setting for a young girl to lose her life?

First, please ponder: We are created beings with limited mind and scope. To ask that we should comprehend all or any of our Creator's reasoning is to ask the impossible—especially since we are speaking of a Creator who is not limited in any way. Yet there is one exception: when the Creator Himself makes that reasoning accessible to us in His holy Torah.

What does His Torah tell us? That it is impossible for His Torah and mitzvahs—including His Torah scroll—to bring misfortune upon a person. On the contrary, it is through these that misfortune is held at bay.

Also, please ponder this: Each person is granted a set number of years to live upon this earth. (Yes, a life's duration may be extended at times, but only through some extraordinary deed—or diminished, G_d forbid, through serious sins and the like.)

Taking all this into account, let me point out—just as a possibility—that if it were not for the invitation to celebrate a new Torah scroll, this young woman would have been in an entirely different situation at the onset of her heart attack. Perhaps in the street, in the house of strangers, without a doctor or friends who were religious as she was, from whom she could hear words of encouragement and where she could see faces of Jewish friends in her last moments.

Is it even possible for us to imagine the difference between the two scenarios? Is it possible for us to imagine how much a person lives through in every moment of those last breaths of life, especially a young person, a religious person, and at the time that we celebrate the giving of the Torah?

An essential teaching of the Baal Shem Tov is that all that occurs is under the detailed supervision of the Creator. Accordingly—just as a possibility—perhaps one of the true reasons that Mr. Z. was inspired from heaven to donate a Torah scroll and all that goes with it, was in order that through this, indirectly, the soul of a young person would be able to rise from this world with inner tranquility and in a Jewish home; in a home that is symbolized and protected by a mezuzah, containing a scroll that begins with the words, "Listen Israel, G_d is our L_rd, G_d is One."

Question #2: Perhaps this means that we must change our plans and place the Torah scroll elsewhere?

You should bring the Torah into the intended synagogue on the thirtieth day from the burial of the deceased (even if the official ceremony will have to be done later).

Question #3: What do we tell our conscience? Why did we have to be involved?

It seems that you and your wife, may you live for many good years, have very great merits. After all, you were granted from above (without any effort on your part) a great mitzvah: First of all, you were able to ease the last moments of a fellow human being. Secondly, until the ambulance came, you had the mitzvah of caring for a person's posthumous body. This is not a small mitzvah. The Mishnah tells us that even were the High Priest in the ancient temple in Jerusalem performing his service in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, he would be obligated to leave that place to perform this mitzvah, should it befall him.

Merits are bound up with special obligations. Among them is the obligation to speak to all those who demand answers to these questions, telling them all the above and similar. Tell them until they will see the event as it truly was: An act of divine providence in a most amazing way.

Source: Torat Menachem, Menachem Tzion, siman 60 (page 566)

All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Donald Weinshank 48823 July 6, 2016

The Jewish way in death and mourning I strongly urge people to read Rabbi Maurice Lamm`s. The Jewish way in death and mourning. It has been cited several times in related discussions on this site. Reply

Daniel June 16, 2009

Response to Dr. Hamburger I was thinking the same thing, sort of--the first thing that came to my mind was, the father had accomplished his mission(s) and died a very, very happy man. I often find that being able to find the best in every situation helps my ability to make sense of things. Reply

Stan Frank Montreal, Canada January 13, 2009

Death of a young person I feel your response to the above situation is too simplfied. We are a living being composed of may tipes of cells, vessels, & biological systems that at anygiven time can go astray. Beings die at all ages & at all times in all circumstances. As Jews we hope & pray that our souls are bound up with G-d in a better place in a better time. Who can really comprehend the ways of G-d? Reply

Mary Lucas June 3, 2017
in response to Stan Frank:

Since we are composed of dust naturally we go back yet it's the soul I wonder about not so sure where it goes since it has to wait for burial ? I Just wonder if the soul feels pain , anguish or peace. Reply

Anonymous January 12, 2009

In what kind of scenario would the Cohen Gadol be required to sit with a deceased person? Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn April 5, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I feel that we have an expectation that we will live to this and this age. I know I do and realised it from reading this article. So if someone dies at a certain age to young it's harder to accept. (I realised it's the wrong post I'm replying to Reply

Dr. Harry Hamburger Miami, Florida, USA January 9, 2009

Father dying at daughter's wedding Our bodies are simply garmets that clothe our immortal soul. Upon death our soul re-unites with G-d and becomes one. It has been said that the soul longs to leave the confines of the body, but remains for it's appointed time to fullfil it's necessary mitzvot. It may very well be that the father during his daughters Jewish wedding had fulllfilled all of his earthly duties, and his soul was in such joy that it left his body to rejoin the Ein Sof. Our ways are not G-d's ways, and this is only my thought, as I am insignificant before G-d, and can never know his inner thoughts and reasons.

Just remember that everything that occurs is in the end for the best, as all things come from G-d. Without G-d hand the universe would become nullified and cease to exist, and all that happens is at his loving direction. Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, NY January 7, 2009

My sympathies are with you. May G-d give your niece and nephew the strenght to deal with their loss.
May the rest of their lives together be filled with joy. Reply