Funeral of murdered teen Naftali Frankel. (Photo: Flash90) Funeral of murdered teen Naftali Frankel. (Photo: Flash90)

Judaism recognizes that death is a component of life. Murder, however, is not. An untimely, brutal, or otherwise unfortunate death is nothing short of a tragedy that demands a response.

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel

By now all readers are familiar with the brutal kidnapping and murder of three Jewish boys here in Israel. In my role as rabbinic director here at United with Israel, allow me to share with you some of what Judaism and the Torah has to say about dealing with tragedy.

The first questions on everyone’s mind are probably: Why? How? Where was God?

There is simply no authoritative answer. The Torah even tells us that “no living creature can ever see [understand] Me.”

Moses could not understand why God does what He does, nor could Abraham, nor Job. The answer to this question is beyond our comprehension. Perhaps we will deal with this further, and with theodicy in general, in a future article.

According to all accounts, however, the questions are not what we need to be focusing on at this time. Judaism directs those affected by tragedy, and by all forms of bereavement for that matter, to action and to deeds.

Hamas is an organization that spews darkness. Let us respond with light. Lots of light. Light that is contagious and addictive.

I think it is fair to say that the tragedy we have lived through for the past 20 days forces us to realize the fragility of life. Life is fleeting. There are no guarantees.

As such, we must be sure not to waste a single day. So what can we do? We must fill every day with meaning and significance. We must make a difference in the world. Do an act of kindness. Help another person. Make a donation to a cause that was close to the hearts of the victims.

This is also an ideal time to reflect upon the difference in attitude towards life between the Israelis and their enemies. Hamas was praising the kidnapping (and has already promised more) of the three boys on their way home from school for Shabbat while Israeli doctors were operating on the wife of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a Tel Aviv hospital!

The Talmud in Berachot 5a teaches that when a tragedy occurs, we should look within ourselves and take an accounting of our deeds. This is especially true in terms of the mitzvot (Torah commandments) that we perform. The terrorists are barbarians; we are not. Fight their barbarism with humanity. We often have no idea of the impact that a smile, a loving word or a thoughtful gesture could have on the life of another. Let us live more meaningful, more passionate and more worthwhile lives in memory and in honor of the three boys.

It is certain that our personal and communal reflection on this tragedy will make us an even greater nation. Be sure to do your part.