Who can console us, for what is beyond consolation? The pictures of the eight kedoshim, the choicest korbanos that Klal Yisrael could offer, haunt us beyond words….
The terrorist who carefully cased Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav, an icon for Torah study, carefully aimed five hundred bullets at the heart of Torah itself. The target was more than deliberate. R. Chaim Brisker, they say, held that Amalek was not a particular group of people descended from their ancestors. Amalek is any group that displays the same hatred for G-d Himself. Some in our community have resisted applying the label of Amalek to the Palestinians (since, unlike Amalek, they do have cause, however unjustified, to see themselves as an aggrieved party in a struggle over land). They should now reconsider. The society that preaches martyrdom to children, that rejoices in the street over the deaths of students huddled over sacred texts, that praises death over life – this society has become Amalek.
May we find some measure of comfort in the realization that Amalek has declared war on Hashem Himself, not just us. May He move quickly into action against those who seek to destroy Him, and those who substitute Thantos, god of the jihadists, for the One G-d of the civilized world.
And to think that this is the way we enter the month of Adar.
We like to focus on the joyous quality of the month of Adar - "mi'shenichnas Adar, marbim b'simcha." When the month of Adar enters, we increase joy. But this was not the original quality of Adar - "Hachodesh asher nehepach lahem mi'yagon---umei'eivel", the month that was reversed from its original quality of being a month of sorrow and mourning. The month that Haman viewed as propitious for the destruction of the Jewish people carries in it the seeds of destruction and tragedy. The story of Purim was quite close to concluding in a very different way than the miraculous way we will read about in the Megilla.
The month of Adar is a month of the hidden face of G-d. When our intimate connection with Him falls victim to the hidden dimension of His presence, when we don't listen to the subtle wake-up calls He may be sending us, Jewish history teaches us that a Haman (Purim) arises, that a Saddam Hussein (1991) arises, that Hamas (Sderot, Ashkelon, what next?) arises. We don't have specific explanations for individual tragedies. But it is hard to remain complacent in the face of events that shake the routine of our daily lives.
The joy of Adar is hard work. It begins with the sorrow, with decrees of destruction, with the hidden face of the Almighty. We have the potential, through our actions, to invert this beginning. The Jewish people in Shushan, through the leadership of Mordechai and Esther gave us the formula to ensure that Adar turns into the month that is reversed from "yagon l'simcha, eivel l'Yom Tov," from sorrow to joy, from mourning to celebration.
Coming up in Part II – interesting recognition and action by Chassidic Rebbes towards the tragedy.