Ultimate Lesson in Faith

Over the past 72 hours most families have been sitting around  saying, “It’s crazy.”

I did the same. When I was asked to speak, I had no idea what to say.

…Most people look at this in three parts: the children, the parents, and the community. We will start with the children.

A story was told by Rav Chaim Vital about 500 years ago. A woman lost her husband. Two years later she was still struggling terribly with the pain of her situation. One of her sons needed a shidduch, another was struggling financially, and a young child had died.

She went to sleep and in a dream saw her departed husband giving a shiur in a clearing in the forest. She asked what he was doing. He explained that in a previous existence he had been a great talmid chacham, but had never married or had children. He climbed many levels in Gan Eden, but reached a point at which he was told that he must go back and build a family. “I went back, married you, and had seven children,” he said. “Then I was told that I had reached perfection and could take my place in Olam Haba.” The woman asked about the challenges of each of their children and received answers as to how each fit into a grand plan. … We have not answers or even a clue. To us it is unreal, but there is very clearly a plan.

I think the hardest part for most of us to deal with is why Hashem would take seven children and keep the parents alive.

Rabi Yochanan lost 10 children. The last one was passing by a large cauldron, fell into the fire and was consumed. The great Rabi Yochanan used to carry one of the bones of this child to console people. He showed them his loss and the faith that he still carried with him.

I used to think that I would never see a man hold a bone and say, “I have faith — so can you.” I thought I would never see it. To hear someone say, “I today have nothing, and surrender everything to Hashem, because that is all I have left.” I never knew that I would see it.

The Chiddushei HaRim lost child after child. With the passing of each, he consoled his wife by saying, “At least we have another one.” After the last one was niftar, he said, “Nobody in the world has more pain than me, and if I can have faith, so can others.”

We saw a man get up and say, “I lost everything and I have faith.” Now everyone who complains about their situation and asks questions of Hashem can look to the Sassoon family for consolation.

What can we say about what it means for our community? One of the famous Holocaust survivors said that he spent years asking “‘Why?’ After much searching, he realized that he would not get the answer. So he started asking, “What?”

What do I do now?

Maybe if someone is a prophet or has a dream they can say why this occurred, but I cannot. But we can see what we can do.

That is not a reason. Only the Borei Olam has the reason.

Of the 39 melachot, only one is mentioned clearly: “Do not ignite a fire on Shabbat.” The Shelah Hakadosh says that this alludes to the importance of not bringing anger and disrespect into your home on Shabbat. If we want to extinguish fire — don’t bring uneasiness, definitely not on Shabbat.

People say we have a shidduch crisis, kids-at-risk crisis, internet crisis, and many more. I think that we have one crisis: too much negativity in our homes. How can a child not be at risk if he is not loved? A child cannot think of texting on Shabbat, if that day is a time of love and spiritual elevation.

Hashem told us: “Do not bring fire.” That does not just mean to have a smoke detector. It means filling a home with strength and beauty.