Rabbi Krakowski: Reflections On Recent Tragedies In Eretz Yisroel

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yweIt’s been a hard tekufa. Tragedies occur, but sometimes they are closer to home and more frequent. When it’s close to home we tend to feel the pain more acutely. Pain is an interesting phenomenon: while it is objectively undesirable, pain ultimately is to our benefit. When we feel pain it is a nervous reaction in our body – often to impending danger. Pain is the way our brain tell us something is wrong. Chazal tell us that that it is not only the body’s signal that we need to take care of an impending problem but also Hashem’s way of telling us we must amend our ways (הרואה יסורין באין עליו יפשפש/ימשמש במעשיו). This is the reason the yesurin are מידה כנגד מידה – so that we should be able to figure out what the message is supposed to be.

Hashem is our father; just like a father, when Hashem hits us with a message He hits us where we can handle it. A father won’t give a punch in the stomach. Likewise, Hashem doesn’t strike the weak amongst us. Hashem strikes those who can handle the pain. All too often the message is really intended for the weaker ones.

Last week Hashem took from us a young woman: Shoshana Lubin. She had become a Kalah just a week earlier. This week Hashem took from us a couple and their infant child. Yesterday Hashem took from us two adorable little girls. Today Hashem took from us a 15 year old bachur and Rav Yankel Galinsky זצ״ל.

To call it a tragic week is to put it mildly. It has truly been a most painful week.

Reb Tzadok Hakohen tells us (in various places) that when great tragedies occur to Am-Yisroel it could be that everyone has a different message to take from it. It is therefore impossible to come and say “this” is the message Hashem wishes to reach us… While no one can proclaim a reason for such calamities we can and should share with one another lessons we can take from them.

There is one lesson in particular that seems to stick out. Hashem took from us so many unexpected people in such unexpected ways. Hashem took from us people that one usually would take for granted. Since Hashem showers us with so much good fortune we don’t fully appreciate what He gives us.

How often does Hashem cause a random building to blow up from a gas line explosion? How often does Hashem take children by allowing an exterminator to leave around so much extra poison? Who would expect a 19 year old miracle to just all of a sudden have a heart attack?

Hashem took from us so many people whom we took for granted.

We live in a very good period of time. Over all life is good. We Baruch Hashem do not know real poverty nor do we know real oppression. Most of us for the most part are very comfortable. Perhaps amongst other lessons we are ignoring the lesson of appreciating all that Hashem has given us. Maybe if we leave our greed behind and begin to thank Hashem for everything he has given us we can avoid having more precious people from being taken from our midst. By showing appreciation to Hashem for all he has given us we are telling Hashem we are ready to appreciate the ultimate good with the coming of Mashiach.

A very warm Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski.


2 COMMENTS

  1. Good article with one exception: “we baruch hashem do not know real poverty.” Uh, what do you call the abject poverty especially in eretz yisroel? Fake?

  2. to the author:
    Very nice letter.
    in regards to this letter I have 2 things to tell you.

    regarding the first half of the letter (tragedies…)
    I can tell you: it is partially our fault also, as we go day by day, we are constantly getting reminder wake-up calls (like you mentioned above) from Hashem to start doing teshuva & return to Hashem with achdus. The only problem is that we have a major problem facing the world today-yidden or not-called FACING REALITY, i.e. whenever tragedy strikes we let it pass us & think we could fool Hashem that we don’t get his wake-up call for teshuva. Thus we leave Hashem no choice but to keep striking us with tzaros R”L.
    i.e. if we all make a promise to do teshuva ASAP together as a nation this horrific time of constant tzaros can come to a end.

    How long can Hashem watch us & not do something to wake us up? i.e. how long can YOU watch your child not listen to his parents before he’s gone too far & needs to be punished? its a potch of love to help the child improve… & thats the bottom line.

    Klal yisroel blew it long ago, when we see tzaros happening but we don’t get together as a nation to do teshuva & beg Hashem forgiveness?

    regarding the second half of the letter (taking life & everything for granted) I would like to tell you a message that has been told over to hundreds of people face to face.

    message:I was once approached by 3 people-at 3 different occasions-with the same question, Each person asked me, how he can learn to stop taking things for granted & instead appreciate them? I then replied to each one with a different answer. The first person that approached me was in a shul, before starting Shachris. I told him, most lessons a person learns in life take weeks & months to learn but this lesson takes only one hour to learn. I then opened up a siddur to birchas Hashachar. & showed him boruch… pokeach Ivrim (blessed be Hashem for giving sight to the blind) & told him why don’t you close your eyes for one hour, just one hour & then open it up to, the world to color & beauty etc… you will not know how to thank Hashem enough. I then gave him 2 other examples. Boruch… Matir Asurim (blessed be Hashem for releasing the prisoner) & told him why don’t you lock yourself in a empty room for 1 hour?-it doesn’t need to be a prison cell it could even have a little furniture, & then come out an hour later to freedom & the world etc…. Boruch… Zokeif Kefufim (blessed be Hashem for straightening the bent) & told him why don’t you stand straight for one hour, no knuckles, elbows or knees, & then loosen yourself free. You will not know how to thank Hashem enough for giving you so much… how would a person eat & put food in his mouth without using his elbows? These are just a few examples. The second person approached me & I replied to him from a different perspective, I Told him if a company of 1000 employees had a policy that all employees must hand in their cell phone from 9:00am-when they arrive-until 5:00pm-when they leave-when he would get it back (at 5:00pm upon leaving) the person would not just look at his missed calls & text messages but would actually start to see the beauty of “the cell phone” & everything that it does…. upon the Third person approaching me-in the midst of a major snowstorm on a friday night-& asked me how will he ever make it home in such deep snow & darkness? I asked him if he knew what I think of when I see snow at night? He replied no, so I told him of the pesukim we say during maariv & in the morning of, Hashem takes light from darkness & dark from lightness. i.e. what else could light up the entire ground in the midst of darkness like snow? With Hashem deciding on each storm how big it will be & each snowflake if it will stick-to the ground-or become water in mid-air etc… BOTTOM LINE: there is always a way to look at every situation in the positive way (from a big water bill in the mail to other sad situations or any other situation a person is in.)

    May we all start to show hashem true thanks for everything & start doing teshuva so mashiach can come. very soon.