By Rabbi Shimon Posner
Lubavitch is sometimes called an organization, a term that makes insiders
smirk. Other times Lubavitch is called a movement, more accurately, we feel, but woefully inadequate. Or referred to as a community, a word so bandied about — the business community, the education community, the immigrant community — that the word is so feeble a description, meaningless.
So the closest term we come up with is “family,” which in some cases reflects a biological truth. But in the wider sense too, it reflects a reality, we fight cats and dogs like only family can, but are never separated, not in spite of the spats but through them, the fights show the deep passion Lubavitch has one for the other. Family.
This past week Lubavitch has been racked by searing pain, one after the other. The responses, verbal, texted, and I’m sure twittered, were immediate and ? let’s be honest ? annoyingly predictable.
“OMG I can?t believe it!!!”
“What?s going on??? I’m speechless”
“BDE. We need Moshiach
“Let?s get the hachlatos going.”
All these were the common – and apparently self-refuting – comments.
These days pass in a daze. Non-ending, numbing, stupefying. Two years ago almost to the day we learned that Bombay is now called Mumbai, and that Chabad there is housed in Nariman House and “what’s- their-name” or “who’s-the-yungerman-there?” quickly gave way to Gabi-n-Rivkie: seared into our memories and the memories of our children.
We were stunned, speechless, horrified and terrified. Terror is a nasty thing. It stops you from reacting, freezing you, petrifying you.
You see, even the words themselves, when you think of them, “freezing” and “petrifying” mean hardening, losing elasticity and responsiveness.
In Nariman House the enemy was terrorists, shameful, horrible people but identifiable, measurable. This week the terror is without a tangible terrorist, there is no neck to choke.
But the terror is there, the terror is choking. Stored in our collective memory is the story of the Baal Shem Tov; the childless couple who after pleading entreaties were blessed with a child, who short months later died.
“If you were going to give him to us, why couldn?t we keep him? If you?re going to take him away why tease us by giving him to us for so short a time?”
The Baal Shem Tov told the parents of the lofty soul who in his life on earth had done so much for the Jewish people, but had never lived as a newborn in a holy atmosphere; that was why he had to come down, to their home. That is why he was taken away.
No one has told me that the story comforts them. And we dread to even consider contemplating what the parents, spouses, immediate families are going through. Angels tread lightly there. Very lightly. Don’t go there.
Somehow with Gabi we picked ourselves off the floor, Southampton Chabad for example made an appeal that very Shabbos for Chabad of Mumbai. We all vowed to live what they died for. A journalist Jonathon Mark noted that good men will fall but they will be replaced; that?s what soldiers do. Mourn and continue. And the continuing is a mourning of sorts.
This week there are no tangible terrorist, only palpable terror. The eyes of the media are not upon us in the same way ? for better and for worse. And now we have to go give a shiur, wrap Tefillin, get Chanukah rolling, all of that and more, regardless of what?s happened and who has fallen.
No; not regardless but because of. Not in spite of but in honor of. Oh G-d, when will this end?
So we remain speechless, but we can’t remain wordless because then it could seem we are unaffected. And we have to air our hurt. So, predictable as it is, we articulate our speechlessness, we cry “Ad mosai” and we contemplate and then undertake hachlotos.
It’s the only way we have to get past terror, it’s the best we have. Good men fall and wonderful families have their hearts cut out. We acknowledge that, we cry, either visibly or otherwise. We take our tears with us as we go into the field.
Hazorim bedimah, hazorim bedimah. Berina – we remember. And, may it happen soon – yiktzoru.