On Monday, the collective heart of Am Yisrael was rent asunder as word spread of an inconceivable tragedy that claimed the lives of a mother and her three children.
Wherever they happened to be when they heard the terrible news, friends, neighbors, and total strangers sensed the sea of grief that overtook the global Jewish community. Even the most hardened of hearts was pierced at the enormity of the calamity.
The tragic petirah of Mrs. Aliza Azan, 39, a”h, and her children Moshe, z”l, 11, Yitzchak, z”l, 7, and Henrietta, a”h, 3, in a fire that destroyed a home known for Torah and chessed, was a tragedy that shattered our communal soul.
There are words with which a mortal can offer comfort, but all that can be said to this family is Hamakom yenacheim eschem – only the Omnipresent can comfort and console the family, friends, and our community as a whole.
As we mourn the loss of these precious souls, and daven for the complete recovery of the three surviving members of the family, husband and father, Yosef ben Ahuva Masuda, and two teenage children, Shilat bas Aliza and Daniel ben Aliza, b’soch sh’ar cholei Yisrael, let us recognize that this is a time for introspection, inspiration, and strengthening our unbreakable bond with our Creator through emunah peshutah.
When Harav Yaakov Dovid, the first Rebbe of Amshinov, zy”a, the son of Harav Yitzchak, the Rebbe of Vorka, zy”a, met with the Kotzker Rebbe, zy”a, his father’s close friend, he complained to him that he had yet to see his father – who had already been niftar – in a dream.
Sometime later, they met again and the Amshinover Rebe related that he had seen his father, standing near a river.
“That is a river of Jewish tears,” the Kotzker Rebbe explained. “Your father’s avodah was of ahavas Yisrael, and so he is standing next to their tears and davening on their behalf.”
Well over a century has passed since that conversation took place, and by now, when reflecting all that we have endured as a nation since then, the river of Jewish tears is likely a raging ocean.
As we beseech in the selichos: “May it be Your will that You Who hears the sounding of weeping, that You place our tears in Your flask permanently and that You rescue us from all cruel decrees. For on You alone are our eyes fixed.”
As the communal tears over this latest devastating tragedy pour into this ocean, may we merit to see the fulfilment of the passuk in Yeshayah 54:7:
“For but a brief moment have I forsaken you, and with abundant mercy will I gather you in. With a slight wrath have I concealed my countenance from you for a moment, but with eternal kindness shall I show you mercy, said your Redeemer, Hashem.”