By Rabbi Shea Hecht
By now the question has been asked millions of times: “How?”
How could a young family, shluchim, who gave so much of themselves to the Rebbe and Am Yisroel be taken from us in such a terrible way? Did Hashem cast aside the tefillos of millions of Jews from every community from all corners of the Earth?
In the words of Shlomo HaMelech, “there is nothing new under the sun…” The questions that we ask now have been brought up in the past. As Jews, the only answers that we can look to with any certainty are held within the Torah.
The Torah tells us of how Nadav and Avihu, the sons of the Aharon the Kohen Gadol were consumed instantly by a holy fire that “went out from before G-d”. The Rebbe points out that the words “a fire went out from before G-d” were mentioned just four verses earlier to describe how the holy sacrifices were consumed–in this same holiness and purity were Nadav and Avihu taken.
Moshe’s response to Aharon: “This is what G-d spoke of… I knew that this house would be sanctified through those close to Him, but I thought it would be you or me. Now I see that they are greater than both of us.”
If we look at the lives of Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, we will see two young “Kohanim” whose entire purpose as shluchim was to make this world into a dwelling place for G-d. They were Lubavitcher Chassidim famous for their personal warmth and hospitality. They were totally commited to their shlichus, and the extent to which they accomplished their shlichus was amazing. Bekrovai Ekodesh–only through people such as these could G-d’s name have been sanctified.
Because our questions can never truly be reconciled, the Torah tells us Vayidom Aharon–Aharon was silent. Recognizing that this kiddush Hashem was a decree from on high, we accomplish little through understanding, but much through acceptance.
Regarding the Holtzberg and Rosenberg families, we must draw guidance from another interpretation of vayidom Aharon–Aharon silenced Moshe. Words, no matter their good intentions, will never take away their pain and loss. We should bear in mind that our greatest help to them is through our sympathy and sharing in their grief.
Regarding our children: When tragedy hits close to home, we need not expose our young children to every detail. We must bear in mind that a child may make inferences and draw conclusions that we never even dreamed of, even with all of our sensitivity and careful explanations. Generally, the more the issue can be obscured, the better.
For our older children, who are better prepared to deal with tragedy, we must point out the above lesson and others like it from the Torah and from our Rebbeim (many of us have forgotten that only a lifetime ago, “the Rebbe’s shlichus” was often rewarded with imprisonment or death). By drawing these parallels, it will bring the tragedy into a perspective they can understand and be a source of consolation.
May G-d console the mourners, amongst all those who mourn Zion and Jerusalem, and may all of Am Yisrael merit the ultimate consolation, to be reunited with the Rebbe and all of his kedoshim through the Geulah Shleima.