The bedrock, the foundation, the roots of a Jew is his or her emunah. And if such a thing needs to be stated explicitly, the Gemara (Makos 24A, cited in Part One) does so, quoting the prophet Chavakuk. And the Chinuch fills in the gaps by teaching us that this includes the belief that Hashem controls all, including all events, all that is, and all that occurs. This imperative was stated at Har Sinai. Yet, ironically, at Har Sinai the Jews saw Hashem. How do we recreate that?
By endeavoring to see Hashem in everything. The Chovos Halevavos writes in his introduction to Sha’ar Habechinah, the Gate of Contemplation, that contemplation regarding the wisdom found in Hashem’s Creation is the most immediate way to prove His existence, and the surest path to knowing Him. Sadly, Chovos Halevavos writes, most people are too blind to recognize or to understand that. And this is so regarding all of Creation, all creatures, all plants, all minerals, all the sciences, all technological revelations, all of history, including the survival of the Jews, and the brilliance and all-encompassing nature of the Torah given to us. And as we contemplate these matters, we will come to see Hakadosh Baruch Hu. That, my friends, is the mitzvah of emunah. If you have that recognition, you have it all. And if you don’t, you have nothing!
The tragedy in Boro Park, in the words of the chief policeman associated with the investigation, “defies all logic.” So many things had to “come together” in an abnormal confluence of events… the child had to walk only seven blocks… he had had a “dry run” prior to this day… he had the route memorized… yet he missed a turn and lost his way. Now remember, this is Boro Park! He passed hundreds, no, thousands, of people who would have gladly bought him a soda and taken him safely home… and he asked the one person capable, for reasons known only to himself, of doing what he did…
You can’t make this stuff up.
The earth is perfectly balanced in exactly the right proportions to support and sustain life. From subatomic particles to the angle and the distance of the sun. The carbon atom. The water molecule. How it happened that half the world’s Jewish population lives, in 2011, in Eretz Yisroel — go study what Eretz Yisroel looked like one century ago. How you met your spouse.
You can’t make this stuff up.
You have two choices. Either the world has no Director, and the million-to-one chance that something will happen (and the uncountable odds that so many of those somethings will happen), indeed happened. OR, the world has a Director, who purposefully makes everything happen. We may not be privy to the reason, we may think that we do not like the reason, but there is a reason, G-d did this, nothing happens without his orchestration of it, which means there is a Master Planner and Director who planned and did this. And nothing you do, no precautions, no forethought, no planning, nothing at all, will or can forestall it.
This is the meaning of Vayidom Aharon, the primordial reaction a Jew should have (see Part One) upon experiencing anything, including tragedy. Not why it happened, but secure in the knowledge that is was not random. Rather it was planned by the Master Planner. Rashi comments there on the words of the possuk, “Moshe says to Aharon: Hashem has said, through my Holy ones shall I become sanctified, and in front of the entire Nation will I thus be honored. Realize that when Hakodosh Baruch Hu renders His judgment against otherwise tzadikim, He is honored and respected (for that); for if midas hadin strikes even against the righteous, it shows that there is Divine Justice at work.” At the height of Klal Yisroel’s joy, tzadikim fall. You have two choices. Either events are random, and out of all the multitude of people gathered there, it happened to occur that two tzadikim were affected. OR we say that this was obviously planned by the L-rd, and on the contrary, it’s just too crazy to have happened at random. And we actually take a degree of comfort in knowing that it was purposeful and specifically directed at them. Why indeed? We leave that for later introspection and discussion. Or maybe we’ll never know. But we do know that Hashem is arranging and correlating. That is the secret of Vayidom Aharon — most central and essential acknowledgement that what happened is, indeed, a programmed, intended, and designed event.
After that principle is established, we are ready to take it to the next level. Since Hashem has a purpose, and since we know that Hashem’s entire general purpose of Creation is to bestow goodness upon created things (with goodness being defined as closeness and being bonded to His reality), we are ready to understand that whatever happened is, in some essential way, good. For my good, for the general good, to rectify, to teach, to restrain — once one has internalized the idea, and knows and is convinced, is certain, that this is Hashem’s Hand, one would be ready to stand in front of thousands of mourners, and with one’s heart breaking, state, as Reb Nachman Kletzky did, “Thank you Hashem for the years you have given me with my son.”
Michtav Mi’Eliyahu writes that a basic understanding of all of our exiles, indeed, of the churban Beis Hamikdash itself, is to see the tikun demanded of us through the circumstances we find ourselves in. And he explains how every exile has specific properties, and its own specific tikun. This last, longest exile was brought about through sinas chinom, which Rav Dessler gets to the root of (as opposed to just stating pat, trite, pieties): to wit, the ego of a person, which primarily defines one’s relationship with Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and only as fallout and ramification finds itself butting heads with another person. It is only once we rid ourselves of our egocentric view of life, and see everything — everything — life, health, parnassa, possessions, relationships, success, non-success as Hashem’s revealing Himself, as Hashem’s carrying out His purposeful, deliberate, intentional plan, and our submitting to it, that we can rectify what we need, and ultimately find nechamah from all tzaros when all is revealed, bimehaiyrah beyameinu, amen.