Friday, August 5, 2011


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Devorim – Shabbos Chazon

5 Menachem Av 5771/August 5, 2011 -- Pirkei Avos – Chapter 3

I was asked why I have not made any mention of the horrible Leiby Kletsky tragedy that the Jewish world is still reeling from. The answer is quite simply that I have nothing to say. In fact, for all of the pages and pages of articles written, and all of the speeches delivered, about the tragedy and its aftermath, essentially, nothing has been said. There are unquestionably words of consolation, words of reflection, words of concern, and words of chizuk that have been said and must be said. But in regards to the actual tragedy and trying to make sense of it, at the end of the day, there is nothing to say.

In truth, we are painfully aware of other moments which have rendered us speechless:

When a scion of the saintly Abuchatzeria family is stabbed by a fellow Jew this week in his heart which beat with love for his people while engaged in his Holy Work, there is nothing to say.

When five members of the Fogel family were brutally murdered this year in cold blood in the glow of the holy Shabbos candles, there was nothing to say.

When the holy students of Yeshivas Merkaz Harav were killed atop their blood-stained volumes of gemara right before a special meal in honor of Rosh Chodesh Adar, there was nothing to say.

When Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, who had devoted their lives to teaching and disseminating Torah, were ruthlessly killed in Mumbai, there was nothing to say.

When Nava Appelbaum was killed in a nefarious suicide bombing just hours before her wedding, together with her father in a café in September 2003, there was nothing to say.

When six million Jews - including one million pure children - were tortured, gassed, and burned while the world remained silent during the Holocaust, there was nothing to say.

When pogroms, expulsions, inquisitions, executions, blood libels, and mass murders occurred throughout the millennia of exile, there was nothing to say.

And when our holy Bais Hamikdash, the symbol of our pride and grandeur, was reduced to charred rubble, and our holiest and greatest leaders were exiled in shame and humiliation, there was nothing to say.

The final lamentation that we recite on Tisha B’av - אלי ציון - contains the refrain, “Lament O Zion and her cities, like a woman suffering from labor pains, and like a maiden wrapped around in sackcloth, (lamenting) the (tragic death) of the husband of her youth.”

Our deeply rooted pain cannot be expressed in mere words. There is only one way to express ourselves - with tears, the expression of our souls! Tisha B’av is a day of tears, and through our tears we connect with the deepest recesses of souls. Tisha B’av is a day of tears for all the pain that our nation has suffered, individually and collectively.

In truth, there is one thing to say. In the face of all our untold and innumerable suffering we rise and proclaim, “Yisgadel V’yiskdesh shmay rabbah – May His Name that is great, be exalted and sanctified.” We were endowed with the role of being G-d’s Chosen People with all that it entails. Through all of our tears and pain we have never forfeited that responsibility.

We mention many tragedies on Tisha B’av and we say many words. But when all is said and done, in exile we have no way of sorting out and logically understanding the myriad tragedies and sufferings we have been made to endure. When we conclude the recitation of all of the Lamentations on Tisha B’av we immediately proclaim, “Ashrei – Praiseworthy are those who dwell in Your House.” Despite all we have just mentioned we are still proud and privileged by our destiny. And then, after proclaiming that “Uva l’Tzion - A redeemer shall come to Zion” we rise and proclaim, ““Yisgadel V’yiskdesh shmay rabbah – May His Name that is great, be exalted and sanctified.”

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum