Making sense out of tragedy
By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,
Since the discovery of those precious, unfortunate souls I have felt so weak and empty; this whole thing just is so senseless to have three young boys murdered for nothing.
Although it might not be so fair to say this, (I can only express what I feel), I sort of feel like we were robbed by God to let us keep on praying for weeks when those poor boys were already dead and buried; what’s the point of praying for something that is already gone?
Why would God keep us all in suspense and mental torture just to keep praying for nothing?
— Margie S.
Dear Margie,
friedforweb2I think it’s fair to say that every feeling Jew on the planet feels an amalgamation of emotions: profound sadness, outrage, confusion, empathy with the families of the deceased, helplessness, fear for the future, and more.
The first point to consider is that these boys were certainly not murdered for nothing; they were murdered because they were Jews. In that sense, their deaths were not senseless, a term which usually connotes complete randomness.
Their deaths were anything but random; the perpetrators were a small group of untold numbers of the same ilk whom have been attempting to do just what they did for years, hence they were celebrated by their cohorts for their “success.”
These madmen join the chain of madman tracing back through Hitler, Stalin, Russian czars and Cossacks, Crusaders, Titus and Nebuchadnezzar all the way back to Pharaoh, who are all united in evil and in their hatred of our people. This is just as these precious young boys have joined the holy brotherhood of innumerable righteous martyrs throughout the ages who have given up their lives upon the altar of the Jewish people and Shema Yisrael…Hashem achad.
Another thought is that no prayer is ever for naught. Jewish tradition teaches us that every prayer makes a mark in heaven. When one cries to our Heavenly Father or prays for deliverance from a sickness, danger or otherwise and the answer is “no”; that prayer, or that tear, is deposited in a “Heavenly bank,” awaiting withdrawal when the proper time comes that it is needed for the answer to be “yes.”
Lastly, although we, of course, hoped and prayed for a very different outcome, the Jewish nation as a whole grew tremendously from this ordeal. The Jews of Israel joined together in an almost unprecedented outpouring of togetherness, brotherly love and appreciation for Klal Yisrael and every Jew.
Jews of all stripes and colors; Hasidim and knitted yarmulkes, black hats and secular Jews all joined hands and souls and became one beating heart over their common desire to see the return of these three boys. Something about them and the noble spirit of their unique families elevated all types of Jews to transcend labels, left and right, religious and secular, to identify themselves with these boys and their families until they represented the hope and faith of the entire Jewish people.
Although it’s a shame it takes a tragic situation like this to bring about such togetherness, the fact is that this was the reaction of the Jewish people. This is the togetherness the Al-mighty desires to see, and He showers His love and protection upon us when His children bind together in love and mutual respect. God is “one” in the world when His children are “one.”
Perhaps it is for this reason it was decreed in Heaven for the outcome of this tragedy to remain hidden as long as it was. It was precisely during this time of doubt that our people pulled together in such a beautiful way, pouring out their hearts with so many tens of thousands of prayers filling the banks of Heaven, coupled with so much love and caring for them and for each other.
If only we could retain this love and mutual respect the deaths of these beautiful boys will not have been in vain. May the prayers uttered, love expressed and mitzvos performed on their behalf be a merit for their souls. And may their martyrdom be a merit for the entire Jewish people; may it be the final martyrdom we ever need to experience and Moshiach enter, endowing us with eternal peace and tranquility.
Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at

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