Tragedy / by Marcy Nehorai

Let There Be Light Why is the Newtown tragedy affecting us so much more than other acts of violence? There are so many random, senseless, acts of violence out there. Why does this fill our hearts with such sorrow, shock, and disgust, but hearing about the Batman movie massacre only fills us halfway?

I think mostly it is because they are children. Children that don’t understand the darkness of the adult world ( or that we want to shield them away from it). Children who are not in any way responsible for the mess-ups and the confusion. Children who are innocent and want to love and want to play. Children who are pure, unadulterated light.

The injustice of it, being children, reaches our hearts straight on, fills us with breaking sadness. We want to do something, anything.

We see in the scene, in our minds, the fear that the children must have had. The confusion. The screams of children who could not be protected. The screams of the parents who could not protect. It is almost too much to bear, for the injustice reaches a fevered pitch, a breakable level.

And who, our conscious, rational minds asks, who goes after children? Who is so angry at these children? Six year old children? A child who is caught in the gunfire, caught in the messed up dark ramblings of the adult world, that we could understand. But a gunman who purposefully targets such innocence, such potential, who silences those who want to giggle and laugh and run around and learn? That is the greatest question of all. Who, our minds beg for some sort of answer, who did this gunman hate so much that he would do such a thing?

People are crazy, of course. People do irrational, irreconcilable things. But that doesn't alleviate the pain.

The thought of the children wears us down. We, the nation, want to maternally wrap our arms around them and bring them back to life. We, the nation, want to tell their parents it was all a bad dream. We want to re-right the world again, bring sense back into the classroom. Give ourselves, and our children, the assurance that things are good and life is safe, and if we follow the lines, we will get ahead.

But instead, we see the shattered world, the unfortunate justice, and the pain, a gaping hole in our hearts, for the tragedy of this injustice.

I recalled the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe being played on a video after the Mumbai tragedy. Talking about an earthquake in 1960 that flattened an entire city of Morroco, killing many Jewish students and teachers, and destroying Chabad institutions, he offered these words as both consolation and encouragement:

“What we must do in this situation: where one institution stood,  several must be established. Where there was one student, there must be many students-  many boys in the place of each boy and many girls in the place of each girl… [The soul’s]  successive ascents from level to level [in the next world] depends on the actions of those alive below; when that person is replenished by many living students, this makes possible an ascent from level to level and from strength to strength of that person that was for some reason cut down early in life.”

In the face of tragedy, in the face of unparalleled darkness, we have only one option- to bring more light into the world. If Hanukkah taught us anything, it was this.

May the parents, the community, and the nation somehow be comforted, emotionally and psychologically, for the shattered world that sits in front of them, and may we somehow build back the pieces so that it all makes sense again. Children are our future, they are our potential, they are the light of our lives. They deserve to be safe.   May this be an opportunity to bring more and more light into the world, somehow. Let’s help set the world straight again, bringing justice.

And for the lives that were lost, may they be remembered always. And may their memory be a reminder for how we thus changed the world afterwards, for the better.