Searching for the Message

Tragedy has struck again. More blood. More pain. More grief. The images are painful. Our eyes water over with hot tears just looking at them. We are overcome with grief and sorrow, and every ounce of our tortured emotions goes out to the suffering, broken families. Yet, there is a small part of us, in the back recess of our minds and hearts, that often has another agenda. We have expectations.

We wait for the world to see the gruesome pictures and internalize the aftermath of yet another malicious murder; to behold the heroic Zaka members in their avodas hakodesh wiping the bloodstained tiles and gathering together every last drop of pure, innocent blood for burial according to halachah. And in the back of our minds there is a small glimmer of anticipation.

But ironically, painfully, that sentiment of hope is not for Moshiach to bring an end to the tragedies. It is not for the pain to cease or the broken hearts to heal. Rather, we are anticipating that the world will learn. A small voice whispers to us: After witnessing such cold-blooded murder, such lust for innocent blood, they will surely realize who we are dealing with. Now they will all understand that we have no partner in peace, that we are dealing with barbarians, animals. We will display these gruesome pictures in front of the U.N. or any other political world body and say, “Look, look at the carnage that these savages have wrought! See the cruelty in their eyes, their bloodlust! Now, you, too, will comprehend what we are up against.”

Now, we are sure, finally, the world will know.

But we are wrong on two counts. We are wrong for feeling that way and we are wrong for expecting anyone to change their views or alter their opinions because of the calamities, recent or not. Of course, Chazal have forewarned us that “Esav sonei es Yaakov”; there will always be hatred, scorn and animosity towards us. World opinion is not affected by the facts on the ground. It is not swayed by bloodstains or impressionable when confronted by murder and tragedy. It is cold, distant and apathetic to the pain and terror. They didn’t hear our bloodcurdling cries in Auschwitz and they surely won’t hear them from Israel. With callous apathy, they will look us in the eyes and say, without inhibition: “It is your fault. You are occupiers.” As if political battles over land and peace could warrant such savagery.

Animals, wild beasts, protect their turf by attacking intruders. But they do not annihilate entire families — men, women, and children — with glee and excitement. Nor do they scream Islamic slogans or proclaim their religious allegiance as righteous indignation for their lust for blood.

Politics, religion and land disputes cannot license such malice. And those who claim there is legal “backing” for such barbarity are compliant themselves.

No, the world will never learn. They will never agree, admit or recognize the folly.

Our emotional reaction to terror and tragedy should definitely not be focused on expecting the world’s sympathies. It is time to stop anticipating that others will learn when it is we, ourselves, who need to absorb. When there are open wounds we need open hearts. When will we realize that “tragedy” does not strike, Hashem strikes? When will we stop focusing on the “method” and start searching for the “message”? We are being told something here.

The month of Av is always a time of calamities, because only a “Father” can chastise and rebuke His children. And He does so because He wants them to improve their ways. Hashem has expectations from us. He wants something. Forget world opinion, disregard the U.N. They will never learn. But, hopefully, we will. Better to channel our pain to tefillah and tzipiah li’yeshuah. Let’s turn our eyes to Heaven with hope and anticipation. And cry, with every fiber of our being, “Tateh, ad masai?!

Akiva Fox