The pasuk states: הַצּוּר֙ תָּמִ֣ים פָּֽעֳל֔וֹ כִּ֥י כָל־דְּרָכָ֖יו מִשְׁפָּ֑ט קל אֱמוּנָה֙ וְאֵ֣ין עָ֔וֶל צַדִּ֥יק וְיָשָׁ֖ר הֽוּא:
The deeds of the [Mighty One ] Rock are perfect, for all His ways are just; a faithful God, without injustice He is righteous and upright. (Devarim 32:4)
Rashi explains: even though God is strong [like a rock], when He brings retribution upon those who transgress His will, He does not bring it in a flood [of anger] but [rather] with justice because “His deeds are perfect.”
It also state ברכות ס’ ב
תָּנָא מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא: לְעוֹלָם יְהֵא אָדָם רָגִיל לוֹמַר: ״כׇּל דְּעָבֵיד רַחֲמָנָא לְטָב עָבֵיד״.
It was taught in a baraita in the name of Rabbi Akiva: One must always accustom oneself to say: Everything that God does, He does for the best. (Brachos 60b)
But sometimes things happen that are so horrible and unspeakable it is virtually impossible to see the goodness, the justice. In Israel October 7th the world witnessed a totally mind-boggling, terrible catastrophe. 1400 Jews were massacred in the most horrific manner. Hamas, an evil terrorist group, committed unspeakable acts violating married women then killing them, beheading babies, burning them in ovens, and destroying houses with people in them. The horrors pained every single Jew in the world, religious or not religious.
We are told that more Jews died on that one day than on any day since the holocaust. For many, it feels like a second Holocaust. To get a sense of the magnitude of this calamity, it has been said that what happened on October 7th is equivalent to 200 9/11’s happening in one day.
Our lives will be changed forever by this.
Can one reconcile the above statements from the Torah and the Gemara about Hashem seeking retribution with kindness and justice, with the horrors of these events? Where can we see the kindness and goodness of Hashem? Of course, we cannot begin to know or understand the heavenly cheshbonos or the mysterious ways of Hashem, but by looking closely at the many stories that are emerging from that infamous day, we see a clear message about shmiras Shabbos.
Many kibbutzim and settlements were invaded by terrorists that day, but I heard, two settlements remained untouched. Hamas tried to enter, but the gates were shut because it was Shabbos. These Sabbath-observant moshavim were spared. A video security camera documented terrorists trying to enter a different moshav but being unable to get in. They waited patiently and a few minutes later a car with one of the inhabitants of the moshav drove up. Just as the gate opened, these evil animals came and killed him and then they went inside to wreak havoc and destruction. The whole settlement became a target.
The following Shabbos I was singing zemiros with my family. I don’t always pay attention to the words, since they are so familiar. This time I happened to put my mind to it and was struck by the powerful message of the zemer. כִּי אֶשְׁמְרָה שַׁבָּת קל יִשְׁמְרֵנִי,
אות הִיא לְעולְמֵי עַד בֵּינו וּבֵינִי
If I safeguard the Shabbos, Hashem will safeguard me. It is a sign forever and ever between Him and me.
This zemer was written close to a thousand years ago by Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra (1092-1167) and is sung in Jewish homes the world over at the Shabbos table. The message is clear and became even clearer in the aftermath of the recent massacre. Keeping Shabbos protects us. It is a sign. Just as the angel of death knew to pass over the homes in Mitzrayim that had blood painted on the doorpost, our keeping Shabbos is a sign between Hashem and His people that indicates that we are deserving of special protection.
In the last paragraph, we sing:
מֵחֵל מְלָאכָה בוֹ סוֹפוֹ לְהַכְרִית for doing desecrating work on it (Shabbos) his end will be excision.
Those two Moshavim were saved because they kept Shabbos. The non-shomer Shabbos moshavim was unfortunately not spared. We cannot understand Hashem’s cheshbon as to when He decides a person has finished his tafkid in the world, but this should be a siman to us and to all Jews. Hashem loves us and he gave us Shabbos as a special gift only for Klal Yisroel. Keeping His gift safe protects us.
Similar stories have been pouring in, such as this account from a secular woman:
I took knives and went into the bomb shelter. I Gave each of my children two knives and said to them “Listen up this is not a normal situation, it’s a situation that has never happened”. Suddenly I looked through the keyhole of the door and saw six terrorists with drawn guns chanting in Arabic. In that terrifying moment, I looked up to Hashem and cried out “I promise you one thing that I’ll keep every Shabbos until the day I die!” At that moment I looked again and they had vanished.
Another story heard from Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi and widely publicized on Israeli radio describes how Rabbi Mizrachi made a Shabbaton in Eretz Yisroel this past Elul. Two secular girls were so inspired they committed to keeping Shabbos from then on. They went to the music festival on Friday, October 6th. As it was coming close to Shabbos, they decided to leave. They took three more girls with them. The terrorists came in soon afterward. The girls were saved because they kept the Shabbos.
It has been over 70 years since the Nazis set up concentration camps across Europe for the purpose of systematically exterminating the Jews. I heard on a recording from Rabbi Avigdor Miller that the very same boats used by Jews to profane the Shabbos in Germany before the war took them to the gas chambers during the war. There was tremendous assimilation and Shabbos desecration in the years preceding the holocaust, the extent of which was unprecedented in Jewish history.
Since the end of the Second World War, our rallying cry has been “Never Again”. But it is still happening. We are still being slaughtered. What occurred on October 7th WAS another Holocaust. BiBi and his Commanders keep saying “We must destroy Hamas so that this won’t happen again”, but it is unlikely that this tactic will succeed. Hamas leaders repeatedly state that bombs will not prevent them from continuing their “holy mission” to eradicate the Jewish people chas v”shalom.
So is there anything we can do to prevent such things from happening again? The answer will not have anything to do with armies, peace treaties, or cease-fires. In my previous article, I stated that I was not a novi, only relaying what chazal has told us, and this will provide a glimpse of what we can do to prevent it from happening again.
The answer to “never again” is given by Moshe Rabbeinu in the Torah (Devarim 30:16) reassuring us that if you keep the Torah, the Commandments, (including holy Shabbos), you will live in security and peace in our land.”
There is always more we can do to strengthen our commitment to Torah and mitzvos. So long as there are Jews among us not keeping Shabbos, we know there is more work to do. As Rabbi Yisroel Salanter was reputed to have said:
“If someone talks loshon horo in the beis midrash in Kovno, Jews will desecrate the Shabbos in Paris.”
All of Klal Yisroel is responsible for one another and our actions can make a difference to the spiritual choices of even our secular brothers and sisters. “Never again” depends on the Jews keeping the Shabbos. Hashem is giving us a wake-up call to strengthen ourselves in Torah and Mitzvos and especially Shabbos as a shmira for Klal Yisroel.
I would like to finish off it with a gemara in Yevamos 63a
אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בַּר אֲבִינָא: אֵין פּוּרְעָנוּת בָּאָה לָעוֹלָם אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבִיל יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״הִכְרַתִּי גוֹיִם נָשַׁמּוּ פִּנּוֹתָם הֶחֱרַבְתִּי חוּצוֹתָם״, וּכְתִיב: ״אָמַרְתִּי אַךְ תִּירְאִי אוֹתִי תִּקְחִי מוּסָר״.
Rabbi Elazar bar Avina said: Calamity befalls the world only due to the sins of the Jewish people, as it is stated: “I have cut off nations, their corners are desolate; I made their streets waste” (Tzefaniah 3:6), and it is written: “I said: Surely you will fear Me, and take chastisement” (Tzefaniah 3:7).
All the more so when the calamity falls upon us directly like this massacre on the 7th of October we should assume responsibility תִּקְחִי מוּסָר , take chastisement, fear Hashem, and heed to His word in all its details and follow the Torah.Then we will have complete security in our Eretz Yisroel, as it is so clearly stated in our Torah. With this, may we merit to be able to greet Moshiach in our lifetime.
I Can’t Learn Published by Feldheim.
To contact Rabbi Abenson
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Rabbi Abenson is the founder and director of ShaarHatalmud, a unique yeshivah-based online program, which incorporates learning all Kodesh subjects, from Kriah up to learning Gemara, Rishonim, and Shulchan Aruch. He also conducts evaluations, remediation, and training, and consults with school principals to improve students’ underdeveloped skills