Toldos: Learning from the Har Nof Massacre

Well… it’s been a rather emotional week. It was a tad harder, since my wife knew one of the people killed in the attack. It then gets harder when you start hearing of more attempted attacks than I’m sure the news is not reporting. Heck, all around our city the Druzim and the Arabs are going at it, putting each other in the hospitals, and you just don’t know when some Arab is going to attempt to run you down, stab you, shoot you, etc.

There is a pasuk in Yeshaya (Isaiah) which describes what to do when things are getting dangerous, specifically in these times:

“Go, my people, enter your rooms and close your door behind you; hide for a brief moment until the wrath has passed” (Yeshaya 26:20)

Rashi explains that “rooms” means the shuls and batei medrashos (study halls).

So . . . this made me wonder . . . what do you do when THOSE are no longer safe?

Obviously, nobody knows exactly why Hashem does things, but we are obligated to look inwards and ask what the possible lessons are that need to be learned. Why specifically was an Ultra-Orthodox shul in Har Nof targeted? Why specifically this particular minyan? Why were these particular people killed and wounded? We’re not talking about a shul in a settlement (which “makes sense” from an Arab point of view), we’re talking about a shul which is not Zionistic. The minyan itself was not full of people who were standing outside and talking; it was a well-known minyan comprised of very serious bnei Torah. And the people themselves who were killed and wounded are/were known for their yearning for growth. What could possibly be the message?

In the beginning of this week’s parsha, Yaakov is described a “man who dwells in tents.” It’s interesting to note that the Torah uses the plural, “tents,” rather than just, “tent.”

My Rosh Yeshiva would note that the tent he lived and learned in was “double-wrapped.” Just as food which is double-wrapped, can be heated in a non-kosher oven and does not become non-kosher, so too did Yaakov “double-wrap” his tent to keep it from being exposed to the outside world.

Rav Pincus, on the pasuk from Yeshaya, teaches a very similar lesson. In times of great danger, our job is not only to run to the beis medresh, but ALSO to close the door behind us.

People become so wrapped up with the news and everybody’s great ideas on how to solve this huge problem or that huge problem. But people fail to look and see what Hashem has “suggested.” It’s very easy to pound one’s chest and demand that we stop supporting stores that hire Arabs, or that we need to launch this military operation, or we need to . . .

None of those will do anything, because it’s not addressing the core problems that we need to fix.

So, what do we do? Enter your room and close the door behind you.

Cut down on spending time watching and talking about the news. Cut down on keeping up with the latest trends or topics that the world is fixated upon. Cut down on listening to the radio. Cut down on focusing on things that are REALLY not important.

Then, increase the amount of time you spend in the beis medresh. Increase your concentration and time spent on prayer. Increase your mitzvah observance.

My wife just told me something she heard in a shiur, I believe in the name of Rav Ovadia Yosef. It used to be that we would bring korbonos (sacrifices) in the Beis HaMikdash. In it's place, we have davening. However, if we are not fulfilling our duty to daven, then Hashem chooses His own korbonos.

Why was a well-known shul, and why were well respected bnei Torah, targeted? Perhaps to teach us that we are failing in this aspect, in which they worked so hard to perfect. While we are “entering our rooms” to daven and to learn, we are failing to close the door behind us.

When we go to shul, we need to shut off our phones and not talk about the outside world. We need to focus on the only two entities currently residing in the room, Hashem and ourselves.