Reactions to the Mumbai Massacre - 1


Dedicated in memory of Rabbi Gabriel-Noach and Rivka Holtzberg (the sister of Ascent's executive director Rabbi Shaul Leiter's daughter-in-law), Rabbi Aryeh-Leib Teitelbaum (the cousin of Ascent's managing director, Rabbi Yosef Moshe Spira), and the other martyrs of the Mumbai massacre.

[The following edited version is based on the printed article from non-Chabad source in the English edition of HaModia, 14 Kislev 5769]


Stirrings in Heaven

On Shabbat Parshat Toldot, Harav Moshe Wofson, Mashgiach of Mesivta Torah Vadaas and Rav of Beis Medrash Emunas Yisroel, addressed the topic on everyone's mind since the terror attack in Mumbai, India, that killed close to 200 people, among them the Chabad shaliach, his wife, two kashrus mashgichim and several other Jews. The following is an edited excerpt of his address, which Rav Wolfson approved, prepared by Yochonon Donn for HaModia, 14 Kislev 5769 [and further edited by Ascent].

The events of these tragic days leave all of us with the feeling that significant things are happening - things which we might not be aware of, but our souls feel them.

The fact that a young couple who traveled to a faraway country to continue the work of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zatzal (may the remembering of the tzadik be for a blessing), was cut down in such a brutal fashion must impact the way every Jew goes on. Two kashrut supervisors who went to the Mumbai Chabad House for the Mincha afternoon prayer were also killed.

The holy Zohar says that when a Jew is killed - especially if the murder is on account of his religion, as occurred in Mumbai - he goes to a special place in Heaven: the heichal (chamber) of Mashiach.

The Zohar further says that on its way to this special chamber, the holy martyr passes by the halls where the Avot (the three patriarchs) hold court.

There are unfortunately many terror attacks in the world in our era. It is rare that Jews all over the world should become so captivated with finding out what is happening during any single attack as was with the one against the Chabad center in Mumbai. People were following it on an hour-by-hour basis, trying to figure out the latest news as it was taking place.

The Talmud says about the Jewish people that "if they are not prophets, they are sons of prophets." 'Sons of prophets' signifies a level lower than actual prophecy, in which only the soul "sees" the prophecy, but the person himself does not. However, although a Jew does not know that he is receiving a prophecy, he has a deep-seated feeling that something historic is taking place in Heaven. The natural state of a Jew is to be tuned in to these prophecies - even though he does not actually realize it.

The tremendous outpouring of interest and concern displayed by the Jewish community worldwide to the tragic event is a testament to this. Something important is taking place in Heaven now. However, we are not prophets, but we are children of prophets, so we do not know what it is.

The holy Arizal [of Safed] said that before a new historic period for the Jewish People can arrive, a sacrifice of a great tzadik (righteous person) is required to initiate that era.

The Arizal notes that before the Mishkan (Sanctuary) could be sanctified, Nadav and Avihu (the two sons of Aharon the high priest) had to pass away, as G-d said: "Bikrovai ekadesh -- I will be sanctified with those who are close to Me." (One bullet pierced the Torah Scroll in the Mumbai Chabad House, it penetrated in the section that speaks of the death of Nadav and Avihu….[Y.D.])

The building of the first Holy Temple was preceded by the passing of Avishai ben Tzeruyah - the Talmud in Brachot states that Avishai was comparable to the entire Great Sanhedrin (supreme court of law consisting of the 70 leading sages) - and the second Temple's construction did not begin until after Daniel's murder by Haman.

The Arizal even says that the Oral Torah was only able to be recorded after "Rabbi Akiva and his friends" - the Ten Martyrs (cruelly murdered by the Romans that we read about on Yom Kippur) - lost their lives.

We are living in momentous times. Things are happening in Heaven that we are not aware of; we only feel it intuitively. Who knows for what purpose the Chabad emissary and his wife were needed there?

It can be said that India is home to the most concentrated forms of avoda zara (idol worship) today, which unfortunately attracts many Jews. The shaliach (agent) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Mumbai devoted his life to bringing closer to Jewish life even these types of Jews, and will certainly continue. He is still on his mission. [And there is already a new Chabad rabbi in Mombai, and hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been raised to rebuild the Chabad House there. --Ascent]

The Lubavitcher Rebbe devoted his life to bringing the Jewish people closer to the era of Mashiach - we can be sure that his shaliach will continue his mission from his lofty place in Heaven. On his way to the chamber of Mashiach, as he passes Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, he should tell them the truth about the harsh exile that we are in.

How many Jews have been killed or injured in terror attacks around the world? How many were felled by the various illnesses that have taken so many away in their prime and left tears and misery in their wake? Jews are struggling to make a living, and there is so much unhappiness due to shidduch (finding a spouse) issues and other problems.

We must improve our prayers, Torah study and erhlichkeit (sincerity) in response to this horrific tragedy. That is the only way we can assure that it will not have been in vain.

The question we started off with - how can this happen to good people? - is not a new one. Three millennia ago, Moshe Rabbeinu stood on Har Sinai prophetically watching Rabbi Akiva getting skinned alive with white hot iron combs, and asked G-d: "Zu Torah vezu secharah? -- Is this the reward for Rabbi Akiva's outstanding labor in Torah?"

G-d's answer transcends anything we could come up with in response to the Mumbai attack: "Kach ala bemachshavah -- this is part of My Master plan for the world's rectification."

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