From the Depths of Pain, Achdus

The shocking news spread quickly on Friday. Jews throughout the world entered Shabbos with hearts filled with fear over the fate of three yeshivah bachurim who were kidnapped by Arab terrorists in Eretz Yisrael.

As Jewish women lit Shabbos candles and men made their way to shul to daven, they shed tears and uttered heartfelt tefillos for Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah, Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim, and Eyal ben Iris Teshura. Hours earlier, these had been total strangers to world Jewry; now their names and plight were on the lips of all of Klal Yisrael. Tefillos continued throughout Shabbos, and then on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, in communities across the Torah spectrum.

A thought on the minds of multitudes as they awaken in the mornings, and then queried repeatedly throughout each passing day, has been: “Is there any news of the boys?”

As these words are being written, we still have no news.

At this crucial hour, as three innocent souls remain in great danger, we fervently daven and beseech the Ribbono shel Olam — the Mattir Assurim – on their behalf.

We must also daven on behalf the security personnel who are now searching for these bachurim, at risk to their own lives, that they, too, should be protected from all harm.

And, we must do all we can to evoke Heavenly mercy through introspection and self-improvement; by increasing and improving our study of Torah, our performance of mitzvos, our acts of chessed; and be me’orer Middas Harachamim by being dan l’chaf zechus (judging others favorably) and by refraining from lashon hara (evil speech).

As Klal Yisrael joins together to daven for these three precious bachurim, it is also a most propitious time to contemplate a crucial lesson from this week’s parashah.

Let us not delude ourselves: In nearly every conflict, both sides point an accusatory finger at the other.

Each accuses his opponent of instigating the dispute. The Shelah quotes the following well-known Chazal: “The one who looks away from the anguish caused to him by another, Heaven looks away from all his sins.”

“Don’t be distressed by what was done to you … on the contrary, rejoice that you were given an opportunity to be maavir al midosov…”

How far is one obligated to go in an effort to make peace?

Dasan and Aviram repeatedly stirred up trouble against Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Their vendetta against Moshe Rabbeinu continued for more than half a century.

Back in Mitzrayim, it was they who had informed on Moshe Rabbeinu, a mesirah that nearly cost him his life. Moshe miraculously escaped the executioner’s sword, but still had to flee for his life. Because of Dasan and Aviram, Moshe Rabbeinu was separated from his family and his people for five long decades.

When Moshe Rabbeinu was sent back to Mitzrayim to lead the Bnei Yisrael out of exile, surely these two should have been left behind. But they followed the people out, and then never missed an opportunity to display their ingratitude for their redemption.

In the midst of Korach’s rebellion, Moshe actually went in person to their tents to try to dissuade them.

“From here we learn ein machzikin b’machlokes — one should not persist in a machlokes,” Chazal teach us. It appears that this directive has essentially no limits; even when an enemy tries to have you killed, and then repeatedly rises against you, still, “One should not persist in a machlokes!

One of the most potent and powerful forms of hishtadlus that can be performed on behalf of these three bachurim — as well as the many other Jews in desperate need of a yeshuah or refuah — is for two quarreling parties to overcome their deep animosity and end the conflict that divides them.

Taking this truly heroic step often entails an extreme degree of sheer willpower, but its reward is inestimable.

In the zechus of the outpouring of achdus, and the ahavas Yisrael represented by the tefillos, tears, and positive actions of so many individuals, may Yaakov Naftali, Gilad Michael, and Eyal return safely and speedily home to their parents.