By the Grace of G‑d
Tishrei 13, 5728
[October 17, 1967]
To Mr. Ariel Sharon,
Greetings and blessing!
I was deeply grieved to read in the newspaper about the tragic loss of your tender young son, may he rest in peace. We cannot fathom the ways of the Creator. During a time of war and peril you were saved—indeed, you were among those who secured the victory for our nation, the Children of Israel, against our enemies, in which “the many were delivered into the hands of the few, etc.”—and yet, during a time of quiet and in your own home, such an immense tragedy occurred! But is not surprising that a created being cannot comprehend the ways of the Creator, who infinitely transcends us. Indeed, we are hardly surprised if a small child cannot comprehend the ways of a great, venerable and elderly sage, even though it is only a finite gulf that separates them.
Obviously, the above does not come to minimize the hurt and pain in any way. Despite the vast distance between us, I wish to express my sympathies.
At first glance it would appear that we are distant from one another not only geographically, but also—or even more so—in terms of being unfamiliar, indeed unaware of each other, until the Six-Day War (as it’s come to be known), when you became famous and celebrated as a commander and defender of our Holy Land and its inhabitants, and as a person of powerful abilities. G‑d, blessed be He, shone His countenance upon you and granted you success in your activities—indeed a victory of unexpected proportion.
But on the basis of a fundamental, deeply rooted Jewish principle—namely, that all Jews are kindred—the fame that you received served to reveal something that existed even before, i.e., the interconnectedness of all Jews, whether of the Holy Land or of the Diaspora. It is this interconnectedness that spurred me to write the above words to you and your family.
Another factor that motivated me to write this letter is the tremendous inspiration that you aroused in the hearts of many of our Jewish brethren when you put on tefillin at the Western Wall, an act which merited great publicity and echoed powerfully and positively into the various strata of our nation, in places both near and far.
An element of solace—indeed, more than just an element—is expressed in the ritual blessing, hallowed by scores of generations of Torah and tradition among our people:
“May the Omnipresent comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”
At first glance, the connection between the mourner to whom this blessing is directed and the mourners of Jerusalem’s destruction appears to be quite puzzling. In truth, however, they are connected. For the main consolation embodied by this phrase is in its inner content, namely: The grief over Zion and Jerusalem is common to all the sons and daughters of our people, Israel, wherever they may be (although it is more palpable to those who dwell in Jerusalem and actually see the Western Wall and the ruins of our Holy Temple than to those who are far away from it; nonetheless, even those who are far experience great pain and grief over the destruction). So too is the grief of a single individual Jew or Jewish family shared by the entire nation. For, as the sages have taught, all of the Jewish people comprise one integral organism.
Another point and principle, expressing double consolation, is that just as G‑d will most certainly rebuild the ruins of Zion and Jerusalem and gather the dispersed of Israel from the ends of the earth through our righteous Moshiach, so will He, without a doubt, remove the grief of the individual, fulfilling the promise embodied by the verse, “Awaken and sing, you who repose in the dust.” Great will be the joy, the true joy, when all will be rejoined at the time of the resurrection of the dead.
There is yet a third point: In regard to Zion and Jerusalem, the Romans—and before them, the Babylonians—were given dominion only over the wood and stone, silver and gold of the Temple’s physical manifestation, but not over its inner spiritual essence, contained within the heart of each and every Jew—for the nations have no dominion over this, and it stands eternally. So too, regarding the mourning of the individual, death dominates only the physical body and concerns of the deceased person. The soul, however, is eternal; it has merely ascended to the World of Truth. That is why any good deed [performed by the mourner] that accords with the will of the Giver of life, G‑d, blessed be He, adds to the soul’s delight and merit, and to its general good.
May it be G‑d’s will that henceforth you and your family should know no hurt and pain, and that in your actions in defense of our Holy Land, “the land which G‑d’s eyes are upon from the beginning of the year to the end of the year,” and in your observance of the mitzvah of tefillin—and one mitzvah brings another in its wake—you will find comfort.
With esteem and blessing.