Several years ago, I was in a shiva home as Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler was sharing a profoundly beautiful Torah thought from his revered father-in-law Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt’l with the mourners.
Reb Moshe posed the following question: “Why is it that we make the bracha (blessing) of ‘Dayan HaEmes’ (Blessed is G-d Whose judgment is just) when we mourn the death of a loved one, which basically means that we accept the bitter judgment Hashem gave us? Aren’t we obligated to believe that everything Hashem does is for our ultimate good? If that is the case, why don’t we make the blessing of ‘Hatov V’hametiv’ (Blessed is G-d Who bestows good upon us)?
Reb Moshe gently explained that our chachamim (sages), in their wisdom, crafted the “Dayan HaEmes” blessing to inform the mourners that it is perfectly understandable and theologically appropriate for there to be a deep chasm between what they know intellectually to be our Torah’s perspective on tragedy and the raw pain they currently feel due to their searing loss.
My dear friends, I share this with you in the hope that Reb Moshe’s timeless words will help us come to grips with the unspeakable tragedy of the heinous murder of our beloved brothers Eyal, Gilad and Naftali Hashem Yikom Damam (May G-d Avenge Their Blood).
We know what we are supposed to think, we know that our Torah expects us to process tragedy through its lens and accept Hashem’s Din as just and ultimately for the good – but we also know the searing pain that our human, broken hearts are feeling now.
Reb Moshe informs us that this is OK, and is part and parcel of our spiritual experience in this world as we do our best to see and feel Hashem’s presence in a world where it is often hidden from us.
Four times in the past fifteen years, I had the impossible task of explaining the inexplicable to our talmidim (students) as we lost a beloved teacher to a horrible automobile accident and three parents in our school passed away after long illnesses over that period of time. Here are some of the messages shared with our students.