Out of Tragedy Must Come Faith 

Many wonder where God is when tragedies take place.  I always wonder where the people are when tragedies take place.  The latest tragedy at Virginia Polytechnic Campus really makes me wonder about both.  Where was God and the people at the time of the tragedy?

As Professor Liviu Librescu valiantly sacrificed his life for his students by slowing down the madman’s made carnage Jewish people in Europe were busy marching at WWII death camps. This day was called a day of remembrance of the Holocaust and death camps.  They gave messages of “never again” and made proclamations “we will never forget.”  Educators, youth leaders, religious representatives of various organized religions, and government officials joined in the WWII ceremonies.  Photos and live coverage of these marches and prayer vigils at the infamous death camps were carried in the media. 

How ironic, here in free American, we have Professor Librescu, a Romanian Israeli, and a true survivor of the Holocaust, being mercilessly attacked and killed for no reason, all this happening while simultaneously members of Holocaust families marched at the death camps.  Slogans were being paraded, speeches made, and Kaddish – memorial prayer, recited.  The events were shown world over. 

The sadness of the Holocaust could be felt by families of the tragic WWII episodes are now being realized by innocent American families, staff and government officials.  Remember that in Judaism there are no accidents and all actions are accountable.  Having both of these events take place at the same time tells me to find a message.

I remember my Rebbe – Jewish school teacher – a Holocaust survivor, telling me the following:  “I have no problems of where God was during the Holocaust.”  He went on to say that God was weeping at man’s inhumanity to man.  My teacher’s lesson was where were the decent people? God doesn’t commit the tragedies, it is man, in his free will, that does.  This message is resonated with the recent events.

This week over a hundred Chabad Houses that serve college campuses dedicated a special program to deal with the tragedy.  They declared a week of goodness and kindness.  Students are given a pledge card to pledge a mitzvah – a good deed – in memory of the victims. 

What we need at this time is faith.  No wisdom in the world can explain the senseless mayhem caused by Cho Seung-Hui.  It has been said that faith begins where wisdom ends.  Our faith in God’s will is tested and when we withstand the test we become stronger in our faith. 

As a clergyman I know there are no answers and as an American we must remember our founding fathers’ statement “in God we trust.”  Let’s make this week a week of goodness and kindness for the world.