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UPDATED: How Do We Explain the Tragedy in Yerushalayim to Our Children?
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Publication: Chicago Community Kollel

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3/25/08

Dear Rabbi Horowitz:

We are all aware of the terrible Churban that took place in Merkaz HaRav in Yerushalayim where 8 precious Neshomos were taken. We also have read that these boys were of the special few who chose to take a few minutes to learn while others were preparing for the Rosh Chodesh Seudah. Obviously, they were really special.

How can I explain and respond to my children when they ask why Hashem has punished these young innocent bachurim who were the "cream of the crop" and were doing the right thing? What is going on in Eretz Yisroel, in Sderot and Ashkelon etc. is very frightening to young kids, especially when young children are suffering so much.

How can we explain the right Hashkafah to children who are questioning Hashem's ways?

TZ

Rabbi Horowitz Responds

There is a timeless Yiddish saying – “Vos es feilt in hasbarah, feilt in havanah” – that is probably most appropriate in analyzing your dilemma in responding to your child’s questions regarding this horrible tragedy. Loosely translated, it expresses the stark truth that when we find it difficult to explain concepts to others (hasbarah means to explain, while havanah denote understanding) it is often because we ourselves don’t understand them fully.

This adage often rings true in the arena of parenting, as so many of the challenges we face when raising our children are really issues that we as parents are in midst of grappling with. So I guess we ought to discuss both of these issues simultaneously: How do we process tragedies through a Torah lens, and how do we respond to the questions that our children pose in trying to understand them.

As this is such a difficult subject, I will start with the do not’s before the do’s, as it is a far easier place to begin.

1) Do not suppress the questions of your children – about this topic or any other. Always keep in mind that you never solve anything by taking that easy route. As I often note, an unasked question is an unresolved one. Creating an environment where your child can freely ask you anything that is on his or her mind means that you are positioned to properly be mechanech him or her.

2) Do not be intimidated or frightened to admit that you don’t have ‘all the answers,’ especially to questions as difficult as these. It will be very refreshing for your child to see that you are finding this difficult. In fact, you will have the opportunity to model appropriate behavior when you are stumped or find yourself looking for answers that are over your pay grade – by posing the question to a Rav, Rebbitzen or Gadol with whom you are comfortable.

3) Do not verbalize or even imply that respectfully asking for answers to questions like these is disrespectful or represent a lack of emunah in Hashem. Quite the contrary; you ought to explain that looking to gain insight into the workings of Hashem’s world is really a sign of closeness to Him.

It might not be a bad idea to mention that the question of, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” is one that has been asked by our greatest leaders and nevi’im over the centuries. According to the gemorah (Brachos 7a), when Moshe Rabbeinu asked Hashem, (Shmos 33:13) “Hodiani noh es drochecha – Please make your ways known to me,” Moshe wanted to understand the age-old question of why so many righteous people suffer while it often seems that the wicked are prospering. This was the ‘derech of Hashem that Moshe wanted to understand.

In fact, according to Rashi, it seems that this was something that Moshe had wanted to ask previously, and waited until this opportunity presented itself – once Hashem’s rachamim (mercy) was granted to the Jews. (This request was posed after Hashem forgave the Bnei Yisroel for the sin of the egel, the golden calf. It would seem that Rashi was wondering why Moshe chose that specific time to ask Hashem to understand His ‘derachim,’ for this request, at least at first glance, does not seem to follow that logical thread of Moshe’s beseeching Hashem to forgive Klal Yisroel.)

What is noteworthy and perhaps worthwhile mentioning to your child is that a simple reading of those pesukim would indicate that even our greatest leader and Navi, Moshe Rabbeinu, was told by Hashem that a full and complete understanding of Hashem’s ‘derachim cannot be granted to humans during their lifetime. (For further treatment of this subject, including some thoughts on the dialogue between Hashem and Moshe that is most relevant to this subject, please feel free to review this dvar Torah on Parshas Ki Sisa).

You may worry that your child (and you) may be distressed to find out that there are no easy answers to these questions. But in all likelihood, the fact that our greatest tzaddikim were preoccupied with these thoughts will be comforting to him or her and not leave them feeling like they are on the outside looking in just because they are bothered by these questions.

© 2008 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

P.S. I recently wrote an essay in Mishpacha "Rambam or Ra'avid?" exploring the pros and cons of discussing hashkafa matters with your children.

Next week: Some practical things you can tell your children (the do’s) to help them get their hands around this most difficult matters, as well as tips from experts in the field of grief counseling that may help you help your children.



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1. This was forwarded to me, it was written by a bochur in E"Y it is long but it pays to read it to the end.     3/25/08 - 1:53 PM
Sherree

The Gift of Life: Finding The Message

In The Massacre It was around nine thirty on what had been a routine Thursday night in the yeshiva as I sat in the Beit Midrash (study hall). I was focused intently on the Gemara (Talmud) in front of me, immersed in a world of my own, when my concentration was suddenly broken by three loud bangs coming from the center of the room. I looked up from my study and saw one of the rabbis standing at the bimah, silently waiting for our attention. He made his announcement quickly and in Hebrew and I wasn't able to make out every word. Nevertheless, from the serious tone of his voice I could tell that something bad had happened. I leaned over to an Israeli student next to me for an explanation. There had been an attack at Yeshivat Merkaz Harav in Jerusalem, he said. There were students of the yeshiva in critical condition. We were urged to dedicate our learning that night to the merit of those who had been injured so that they should have a refualh shalayma, a complete recovery. Naturally, a nervous chatter broke out amongst those of us in the room but we were reminded of the rabbi's words and struggled to get back to our sefarim (books of Torah). I tried to refocus myself and continue my learning where I had left off but the apprehension and adrenalin triggered by so many unanswered questions made this almost impossible. Soon, more details followed. Within the hour all of the Americans were gathered into a separate room where we were given more information. A terrorist had entered Merkaz just a few hours earlier carrying an automatic weapon. He had fired hundreds of bullets at a group of around eighty boys who had been gathered in the yeshiva's library. At least six boys, at that point, were believed to have been killed. More were injured. We were told to call home and let our parents know that we were safe. It could have been me! That was the thought that immediately entered my mind, planted itself there and stubbornly refused to go away. These boys, all basically my age, were sitting and learning on a Thursday night in a yeshiva, thirty minutes away from my own. They may have been studying a different tractate or a different topic, but the bottom line - the frightening and humbling reality - was that these boys, who had so much in common with me, were doing the exact same thing that I had been doing at the exact same time. The only difference was that the loud bangs that interrupted their learning were the bullets bursting forth from a machine gun coming to end their lives whereas the loud bangs that interrupted my learning were harmless noises coming to inform me of their tragic death. My parents got a call that I was OK. Their parents got a call that brought a pain into their lives that will never end. This was the thought that shook me to the core and left me confused, scared, and totally dejected, all at once. That night was Rosh Chodesh (the first day of) Adar, the month in which we have the holiday of Purim, the happiest month in the Jewish calendar. After our studies, in the wee hours of the morning, we were supposed to sing Purim songs, dance, and eat chocolate rugelach to welcome in the month with joy and elation. Instead we sat around a small candle in a dark room singing somber songs, trying to figure out what to make of such terrible tragedy. In the middle of one song, a friend of mine got up and, choking back tears, cried out what we were all thinking to ourselves: Our Rabbis instructed us that "When Adar enters we must increase in happiness." How could we possibly fulfill this obligation now?

Purim is the holiday of "nahafochu", the holiday where everything was turned upside down, where the Jews were taken from the lowest of the lows and elevated to the highest of the highs, just when all seemed lost. But this was the "nahafochu" of the wrong sort. In a moment where we had prepared to reach the greatest heights, the culmination of our year in Israel to that point, we felt as though we had been abruptly grabbed and thrown to the ground. The next morning I went to the funeral service for the eight boys who had been killed. Thousands of Jews gathered at Yeshivat Merkaz Harav to mourn the loss of eight precious souls. Somehow I managed to squeeze to the front, into the courtyard where the friends and families of the deceased had assembled. I found myself surrounded by students of the yeshiva, all crying and holding each other as Tehillim (psalms) blared out over the huge speakers to the huge crowd of people that had assembled. What happened next was undoubtedly the most intensely emotional experience of my life. The name of one of the boys was announced over the loudspeaker, and within a few moments, a body wrapped in a tallis was carried into the courtyard and placed carefully on one of the eight benches that had been set up. At the mention of each name, and the emergence of each lifeless body, the students around me erupted into what can only be described as a wild, unrestrained moan. I had been to funerals before and had heard crying before. This was not crying. This was moaning. This was wailing. This was some primal expression through sound waves of a pain that neither tears nor words could articulate. As each name was called, as each boy was carried out, the wailing grew stronger. When it was all over, I felt as though I had been stabbed eight times in the heart. The feelings of pain, loss and sadness were truly overwhelming.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I noticed something. I recognized one of the families who were sitting around one of the bodies. I would find out after the funeral that one of the boys had been a nephew of a family that I and my family were close with. They lived near my yeshiva and often had me over for Shabbos meals. I knew the grandparents too. I couldn't believe it! I was numb! It now felt as if this tragedy had become a part of me. I was already connected in so many different ways to what had happened and now I was even connected to one of the victims! I felt as though I had a hole punched in my soul that had to be filled. I needed something. I needed a message. I needed to somehow make sense out of what had happened. A few hours later, it was time to welcome in the Shabbos which I was spending in Jerusalem. My shir (class) from the yeshiva was having a shabbaton (Shabbos retreat) with our rebbe at my friend's apartment in the German colony. When we arrived at the apartment, we went up to the roof for Friday night services. I walked to the rail and looked out at a gorgeous view of Jerusalem. I began to reflect on everything that had happened in the last twenty four hours. It's said that there are two questions that can be asked when confronted with a tragedy. One is "lamah", "why". Why did God allow eight boys who were sitting and learning Torah to be killed? Honestly, this is a question that can never really be answered with any sort of clarity, especially concerning an event as tragically mind-boggling as this one. Only God knows the answer. He sees the big picture - we don't. This first question I didn't have to have an answer to. The second question is "lemah", "for what". What was I supposed to take from all of this? What was the message I was suppose to get? What was the lesson I was suppose to learn? That was the question that was driving me crazy. That was the question that I had to ask and answer. It seems to me, that's the question that everyone must ask and answer, each in his or her own way. As I peered out at the beautiful Jerusalem sunset, almost too beautiful in light of the bloodshed the city had witnessed that day, I wondered when I would ever answer that question for myself. Little did I know that the answer would literally fall into my hands in the next few moments? One of the guys came over to me and draped a tallis over my shoulders. I was going to lead the Friday night services. The second that I felt the tallis cover my body I got the chills. As I folded it over my shoulders and prepared to lead the prayers, my thoughts shot back to the funeral that morning. Just a few hours earlier I had stood fifty feet away from eight boys who had each been wrapped in a tallis as well, identical to the one that I was wearing now. They had donned a tallis to go to their graves. I did not. I had donned my tallis to sing and to pray. I had donned mine to dance. I had donned mine to bring in the Shabbos in Jerusalem with my friends and my teacher who I had been learning Torah with for an entire year. I had donned my tallis to LIVE! It could have very easily been the other way around. It could have been my yeshiva. It could have been my family and friends wailing uncontrollably with tears streaming down their faces. The tallis that I was currently wearing could have been wrapped around my body for another reason entirely. But it wasn't. I was to live. I was to have Shabbos. I was to have Adar. I was to go on and live my life, at least for another day, for another moment, for this beautiful, perfect moment in my life. I realized that no one has an automatic entitlement to life. Life is a gift, an opportunity. I don't know why these boys weren't given the gift of Shabbos, why they weren't given the gift of Adar, why they weren't given the opportunity to continue life, or to have the beautiful moment that I was having right then. But I was given those gifts, and the true appreciation of them was something that I was only able to obtain as a result of their sacrifice, having been killed Al Kiddush Hashem (in the sanctification of Hashem's name). It dawned on me, maybe this was it. Maybe this was the message I was supposed to get from all of this. On Monday I went to where the family that I knew was sitting Shiva. When I walked in, the father handed me the book that his son was learning when he was killed. Blood was splattered all over the pages and the binding. When I opened it up, someone showed me the bullet markings. The image of this blood-spattered sefer was one that stayed fresh in my mind as I returned to the yeshiva. When I sat down to learn, I imagined what blood stains and bullet holes would look like on my own Gemara. I thought about what a book is. A book isn't a scroll; you can't unravel it and see it all at once. You can only take it one page at a time. If you try to skip ahead and read, even the next page, you probably won't know what's going on. All you really have is the next word on the page. Life is a book. We are all tempted to look ahead to the next chapter of our lives. We love worrying about what will be. We think it will make us feel more secure. This is especially true in yeshiva. Guys love to look ahead to the next holiday, to talk about summer plans, or even to discuss plans for after yeshiva. The image of that boy's bloody sefer reminded me that the next word in our Gemaras, the next page in the book of life, isn't guaranteed to us. The pages following the ones soaked in these boys' blood would never be turned to - many of them would accompany their owners to the grave. How can we allow ourselves to flip the pages and worry about something that hasn't even happened yet? I imagined what would be going through my mind if I had found myself in the library of Merkaz when the bullets were flying. At that moment, staring death in the face, would any of my stupid worries about things down the road make any difference to me? At that moment, would all of the time spent worrying about things yet to take place be worth anything at all? Certainly not! Life is about moments. We cannot let those moments slip away. It takes a tragedy like this to make us realize just how precious those moments are. We cannot let another tragedy take place by squandering them. When I sat in yeshiva on the night of the massacre in that dark room singing those somber songs, I could not possibly understand or imagine how I could fulfill the words of the Rabbis that "When Adar enters we must increase in happiness". But from the moment that I put on that tallis the following night, those words took on a whole new meaning. All we can do, as these boys taught me, is to thank Hashem for right now. To live in the now. To capitalize on now. To serve God in this very moment. As I stood on that roof on Friday night, all I could think of was: "I am alive! I am alive right now!" And when I realized the magnitude of this thought, as its true meaning permeated my very being, a big smile came over my face. This may not have been the lighthearted happiness that I had expected to feel in Adar but it was certainly much more meaningful. It was a happiness that I could now take with me to wear on my face and to draw upon every second of every day for the rest of my life. It was the happiness of having received the greatest gift in the world: the gift of life. A Final Thought As I write these last few sentences, it is Thursday night. I am sitting exactly where I was exactly one week ago when I heard the news. A few hours ago the yeshiva had a "Hachnasas Sefer Torah" celebration. A new Torah had been written and it was being escorted to the Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark) of the yeshiva, surrounded by boys singing and dancing and kissing its soft velvet cover. A talmid chacham (learned Jew) is compared to a Torah scroll. Those eight boys were walking, breathing Torah scrolls in life, and they were buried as Torah scrolls in death, each precious Torah wrapped in a tallis along with their bloodied sefarim. But just as I had witnessed those eight precious Torah scrolls being escorted to their graves, I was now singing and dancing and escorting a new one to its rightful place in the Aron Kodesh. Torah is never lost. The Jewish people are never lost. Jews have been persecuted for centuries. Haman tried to destroy us as we learn in the story of Purim. Hitler tried to destroy us in the Holocaust. This gunmen and every suicide bomber who ever spilled Jewish blood tried to destroy us with their terror and with their weapons. But we will not let them succeed, and neither will Hashem. We come right back. We are relentless,

unwavering. In the midst of our mourning over our eight lost Torah scrolls, in the middle of the week of shiva for their mourning families, we sang and danced with a new Torah scroll and with the memory of those boys firmly in our minds. We sent a message loud and clear to all of our enemies and to the world at large in that Beit Midrash on this night. We Jews will persevere no matter what you do to us. We will persevere for as long as it takes until the day of our ultimate Redemption. This, God promised us and with every passing day we long to witness it with our own eyes. Our Sages teach the following story: After Haman built the gallows upon which he planned to hang Mordechai; he went to Mordechai who was sitting in the Beit Midrash wearing sackcloth and weeping with all of his young students in front of him. There were twenty thousand students there with him. Haman had all of the children chained together and promised that the next day he would kill them all and then hang Mordechai after them. Their mothers brought them bread and water and said to them, 'Children, eat and drink before you die so that you do not die of hunger!' The children placed their hands over their seforim and swore: 'By the life of our teacher Mordechai, we shall not eat or drink, but shall die fasting!' They all burst into tears, weeping until their cry ascended above and God heeded the sound of their weeping...At that hour, God's mercy was awakened, and He rose from the "seat of judgment" and sat on the "seat of mercy". Said He: What is this loud sound I hear, that is similar to kids and sheep? And Moshe stood before God saying: Lord of the Universe, these are not kids or sheep. They are the little ones of Your people who have been fasting for three days and three nights. Tomorrow, the enemy wishes to slaughter them like kids and sheep. At that hour, God took the decrees he had issued against them which had been sealed with clay, and tore them. That night he cast confusion upon the king. 'That night the sleep of the king wandered.'" (Esther Rabbah ) We are in the midst of a long and difficult golus (exile). We've been through inquisitions and holocausts, and even after our triumphant return to the Land of Israel, the blood of our children is still being spilled. The Redemption is close, we can feel it - but it isn't here yet. We sit and wait for the day when Hashem will get up from His seat of judgment and sit on His seat of mercy, for the day that Hashem answers our cries. These eight boys were weeping, seforim in hand, as they were killed Al Kiddush Hashem (in sanctification of Gods name). May Hashem hear their cries, the cries of their families, and the cries of the entire Nation of Israel just as He heard the cries of the children in the Purim story. And this time, in their great merit, may He hasten our final Redemption with the coming of Moshiach, the rebuilding of Jerusalem and our Holy Temple, and may we witness it all with our own eyes speedily in our days.


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2. Explaining tragedy     3/25/08 - 3:52 PM
Benzion Twerski

Klal Yisroel has had many opportunities throughout our existence to ask questions. We experienced churbanos of two batei mikdosh. We watched 10 shvatim go into golus, and several years later what was left of us. There was an inquisition, holocaust, pogroms, crusades, and numerous other calamities that befell us, sometimes of greater and sometimes lesser magnitude. No one can give us the answers for any of the questions we can ask about these events. They only make sense in the bigger picture, and that scene is not perceptible to us mortals. If we were to attempt answers, we could get into trouble. We could try to second guess HKB”H, assuming that we truly know the reasons. We could also believe that we are “repairing” whatever was the basis for the punishment, and that tragedies will be obliterated from our future. Any little thing that could follow later would be a foundation for heresy – kfira.

It is actually a rare occasion when we observe something happening, and can later recognize the yad Hashem in arranging the sequence of occurrences. Exactly that happened on Purim, when a string of events put all Yidden everywhere into the tzoroh of extinction while the groundwork for the miracles of Purim were already in effect. Coincidences (often recognized as HKB”H performing miracles while remaining anonymous) are regular in our lives, although most of us fail to recognize the role of hashgocho pratis until after the fact.

Unfortunately, our community is no stranger to tragedy. The past week worth of news contains so many misfortunes: deaths, overdoses, accidents, anti-Semitic displays and comments, etc. Yad Hashem must be involved, and it takes emunoh – faith to say that during the tragic events. As parents, we need to share the fact that we do not have the answers, and we need to strengthen our own emunoh, which will extend to our children grasping onto theirs.

There is a reason we have tefilos in which we ask Hashem to help us with our emunoh, since we are called to this in the face of disaster and catastrophe.

We may never know why HKB”H chose these 8 precious souls to be His kedoshim. We may never understand the holocaust, acts of terror, 9/11, or others. Our mission is to continue our avodas Hashem, beyeser se’es veyeser oz, with increased fervor and increased strength. No one has this easy.


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3.     3/25/08 - 7:10 PM
Anonymous

A brief Shiur on the significance of this tragic event -- the murder of eight young men while they were learning Torah in a Yeshiva in Yerushalayim -- was given by the distinguished Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Avraham Schorr SHLIT"A a few hours after it occurred, on Erev Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheni. This Shiur is very helpful for our own understanding, which is necessary before we can explain this tragedy to our children.

I would like to share my notes from the Shiur:

1. As we have learned, "MiSheNichnas Adar Marbim BeSimchah." The timing of this tragedy -- Erev Rosh Chodesh Adar II -- indicates that the Ribono Shel Olam intended to disturb our Simchah with an urgent message. What was He telling us?

2. The Gemora in Maseches Taanis (29a) states: "KeSheim MiSheNichnas Av MeMaatim BeSimchah, Kach MiSheNichnas Adar Marbim BeSimchah." To the well-know question -- What is the connection between the two? -- the Sfas Emes ZT"L answered: The Ribono Shel Olam expects us to mourn the loss of the Batei HaMikdash. Our reward for doing so is Simchah in the month of Adar. According to Rav Shorr SHLIT"A, the fact that the Ribono Shel Olam disrupted our Simchah this Adar indicates that is He is unhappy with our mourning and concern for the Churban Batei HaMikdash. It is call for us to repent and mend our ways!

3. Why is our era known as "Ikvisa DiMashicha" (the heels of Mashiach)? The Rosh Yeshiva quoted his father, HaRav Gedaliah Schorr ZT"L, as saying that the heels are the only part of our body where one can cut with a knife and the victim may not feel it. Unfortunately, we have become so callous that we do not sense the imminence of Mashiach!

It is the fervent hope of the Rosh Yeshiva SHLIT"A that we will mend our ways through genuine Tshuvah and thus hasten the Geulah Shleimah, BB"A.


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4. Follow-Up to Comment No. 3     3/25/08 - 7:16 PM
Anonymous

The passing of the very distinguished Mechanech and Aksan HaRav Eli Teitelbaum TZ"L is a severe loss for us. He hope and pray that he will be a Meilitz Yosher for Klal Yisrael. In connection with Comment No. 3, the admonition by HaRav Avraham Schorr SHLIT"A regarding our obligation to mourn the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash and pray for its reinstatement, my favorite part of the Web site of Rav Teitelbaum ZT"L (www.campsci.com) is his Museum of the Second Bais HaMikdash: www.campsci.com/museum/index.htm

We hope and pray that HASHEM Yisbarach will look favorably upon all the wonderful accomplishments of Rav Teitelbaum ZT"L and our concern and yearning for the Bais HaMikdash, and -- in return -- grant us the Geulah Shleimah BB"A.


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5. Sherree, that was beautiful     3/25/08 - 8:29 PM
TZ

HI Sherree,

That article was very meaningful, especially coming from someone who was there. If we look hard enough, we can find meaning in everything.

TZ


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6. TZ     3/26/08 - 8:00 AM
Sherree

I cried when I read it and did feel some closure because it was another bochur who wrote it from his perspective and from his heart. I thought it was appropriate to share with all.


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7. not good enough     4/11/08 - 1:50 AM
natanya - australia

I came acrooss Rabbi's website by accident and subscribed hoping to find some inspiration and guidance in wordly matters. Unfortinately, I'll be unsubscribing since his answer to the above question is very dissapointing. In fact, he is not even trying to answer. If he is preaching to the converted, there is no harm done. They will accept what ever he is saying even if it doesn't make sense or repeating what others already said many times before him. Rabbi should try harder next time....


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8. Not good enough     4/11/08 - 10:00 AM
Sherree

We can only be mechazek one and other and try to find answers and solutions. There is not one answer that will satisfy all questioners, nor is it appropriate to give the same answer to a 5 year old as to a 25 year old.

In this particular situation we are all in shock and mourning a horrific loss. If we were to analyze the why's what would and could we come up with?

As a questioner dissappointed in the Rabbi's answers,let me ask you this. Do you give credit to Hashem for ALL that is good? Do you ever take credit for yourself or give credit to other people? Yet when a tragedy such as this occurs everyone asks "Why did Hashem allow this to happen?".

Then one can also ask this question "Why did Hashem not remove bechira from these people and either place them elsewhere or put different thoughts in their minds and feelings in their hearts?

There is basic good and basic evil in everyone. Hashem gave each individual bechira, the choice, to choose their path in life and to do good and overcome evil. Hashem also promises us that if we suffer in this world we will have a painless olam habah.

I am not a prophet, I am not a Talmid Chochom, I am an individual with tremendous emunah and bitachon in my creator. I am grateful for everything he does for me and all he has given me including the right to choose for myself. We are not puppets or marionettes controlled with strings by the Eibishter. We are not actors on a stage being directed by him.

We were all given a choice. Yiddin chose to follow the Torah and mitzvos, other nations didn't. In so doing Yiddin choose every day, every minute of the day to overcome their yetzer harah and perform mitzvos and maasim tovim. Other people in this world who follow some form of Judea/Chrisitan beliefs work on the same platform of overcoming their evil inclinations and working for the benefit of their families, friends, neighbors and the world.

Some choose to follow the evil within them. That is their choice and as a nation, we have faced that throughout our history. We have always fought for our right to exist. But we are here, and that is proof positive that Hashem does stand by us and he does protect us on a whole, as a nation and as a people.

Why bad things happen to good people is a lifelong dilemma that has no answer. Maybe one reason would be the fact that people either make good choices or bad choices. The choice these bochurim made was exemplary. They were on a tremendously high madreigah when their short lives were ended by evil. The evil perpetrated by someone who made the choice to be evil.

Was this Hashem's plan? I can't answer that. Could Hashem have prevented that from happening? Well could he have prevented you from buying a house that was too expensive for you or a car you really didn't need? Could he have prevented you from doing any number of things you regretted later on like insulting your spouse or neglecting your children? Can he have saved those children from being abused from that irrational mother of 12?

We can look at any example in our everyday lives and ask why Hashem let this happen? And then we can look at a grand tragedy like this one, or like Dr. Twerski mentioned the Holocaust, Hurricane Katrina, the Tzunami and many others and ask why did Hashem allow this to happen? But was this Hashem's doing or was this perpetrated by man? Well the answer to this tragedy and that of the Holocaust is that it was caused by the evil which lies within, and which others choose to buy into. The other "natural" disasters I leave up to scientists to figure out.

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