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A Time to Heal

The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Response to Loss and Tragedy

Current today as when originally provided, this volume is a collection of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's counsel to the bereaved. Whether responding to a widow struggling to explain her husband's death to her children, or to a community whose school was the target of a terrorist attack, the Rebbe provided support and solace to individuals and communities experiencing loss and tragedy, guiding them toward the hope for a brighter future.

One of the very difficult aspects of bereavement is the feeling that we are utterly alone in our misery—that no other human being can possibly share in the depth of our loss.
After experiencing the death of a loved one, it can be difficult to move forward while harboring this continual sense of loss.
What about the bond between the bereaved and the departed loved one? Has that bond been severed?
Do expressions of grief indicate a lack of belief in the eternality of the soul and in the perfection of G‑d’s ways?
Upon losing someone near and dear, there will often be moments when the grief will seem too much to bear.
The greater the challenge we face in life, the greater is the accompanying inner strength we possess in order to overcome the challenge.
The Rebbe taught that the souls of departed loved ones are actually still involved in the lives of those they leave on earth.
“Was this tragedy my fault? Had I done things differently, could I have averted catastrophe?”
The greatest tragedy a parent can experience is the loss of a child.
One of the ways that we cope with loss is to try to ensure that the memory of our loved ones does not fade.
When we reflect on the loss of a loved one and the way his or her soul returned to its Source, we become more open to the needs of our own soul and to developing its relationship with G‑d while there is still time to do so in this world.
While Judaism does not provide explanations for tragedy, it does have a response.
When catastrophe strikes, the mind can become prone to fearful imaginings, especially when there have been repeated disasters.
Many wondered: Why did the Rebbe wait a full week before sending his message of encouragement?
There are different types of silence. There is the silence that comes from a lack of words. And that is a silence that speaks louder than any words can.
Orphaned children are often plagued by doubts about their parent’s early passing. They might wonder if a premature death is a sign of deficiency, or even iniquity, in their parent.
“Who in their right mind could bring children into such a dark and turbulent world?”
More than just a form of poetic justice, rebuilding in the place where there was destruction also has great spiritual significance and benefit.
A hallmark of the Rebbe’s approach to the world was an almost stubborn optimism in the face of tragedy—a refusal to live in fear or to see our world as anything but inherently good.
The faces of terror have become so diverse and the acts of atrocity so creative and bold, and all the while they are striking closer and closer to home, making us wonder: “Are we truly safe anywhere? Are the forces of evil gaining the upper hand? Is our world headed for disaster?”
The Rebbe urged that our response to humanly generated tragedies must include the taking of concrete steps to improve the moral state of society.
Taking his cue from Moses, the ultimate Jewish leader, the Rebbe also taught that it was the responsibility of Jewish leaders to maintain calm in the face of calamity.
After a period of intense mourning, the Rebbe issued a call for action.
Especially after a communal tragedy, it is important that leaders maintain a clarity of purpose, steering their communities toward rebuilding as a cohesive unit, emphasizing the importance of camaraderie and unity as a vehicle for divine blessing.
On several occasions and in different contexts, the Rebbe spoke out against those who sought to blame disasters—either impending ones or those already visited upon the nation of Israel—on a lack of Torah observance.
When tragedy strikes—especially a tragedy of such magnitude as the Holocaust—even those with a strong belief in G‑d are often confronted with painful theological questions.
When we see an occurrence that is utterly incomprehensible, we must say the truth, that the matter is utterly incomprehensible . . . and therefore we cry out!

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