Mrs. Lichtenstein’s editorial in the Rosh Hashanah issue was filled with pain and just a drop of hope. She ends with a plea and a charge to remember the Moshes and Devorahs among us.
I’m sure that many of the readers, like I, felt their heart squeeze in empathic pain. I’m sure that we all know of many more such stories, filled with tears and unimaginable suffering, sorrow and despair.
But I would like to ask: Is this the message the “Voice of Torah Jewry” has for us? Do we, as believing Jews, condone someone cutting off all ties with his family, his heritage and Hashem because of an abusive Rebbi? When does an adult take responsibility for his actions? Do we believe that pain, orchestrated by the One Above, absolves us of our connection to Him and His Torah?
No. This doesn’t take away from the horrors of abuse. Nor does it wash away the accountability of a community, of our chinuch system (both at home and in school) to protect our children, or our ability to see and feel their pain — and do something about it. But the pain isn’t an entitlement.
How do we, many of us second- or third-generation Holocaust survivors, stand up and say that the pain and suffering entitles us to leave our mesorah behind? Our parents and grandparents lived with the triumphant “mir hoben zei ibergelebt.” Their unimaginable horrors and unspeakable suffering did not break them! They didn’t feel entitled by their pain.
Let us reach out to the many suffering neshamos among us. Let us look around us, see and feel the pain and do something good with it. But let us not forget that we are bnei and bnos mitzvah — accountable for our actions. Let us teach our children to see the forest and not the trees. To recognize that we are still in an olam hasheker and evil is cloaked in all sorts of costumes. Above all, let us remember that we are His nation, He is our ever-loving Father and the searing pain is all from Him.
With a prayer that all of our suffering and pain be a thing of the past year and may this coming year be the one when we are all zocheh to greet Moshiach and bask in His Shechinah.
Gmar chasimah tovah,