Overcoming Random Acts of Evil
On Monday, we Americans once again were forced to confront the horrific side of terrorism. No matter who is behind it, whether it is domestic or foreign, no matter what we call it, it's intent was not merely to inflict death and devastation but also – indeed, maybe foremost – to attack our souls. And like all other acts of terrorism, it succeeded.
This bombing hit close to home. My daughter, Aviva, was working just a half block away when the bombs exploded. While she was physically uninjured, the psychic damage will remain with her for the rest of her life. Now, as her father, my role is to do whatever I can to give her love, support, and strength. But it's so hard from 230 miles away.
My sense is that I am not alone. There are lots of us in my New Jersey community who have children at school or who reside in the Boston area, and even if they weren't as close to the carnage as Aviva, I'm sure they felt – and may continue to feel – the emotional impact.
I know you join me in offering our prayers for those who were directly impacted by the bombs. We pray for the recovery of those injured. We pray for those who lost loved ones. And maybe more than anything else, we pray that we can help make a difference. And we can. Because I still believe in the goodness of woman and man. I still believe that random acts of evil can be overwhelmed by pervasive acts of love and compassion.
At the conclusion of each book of the Torah – as we are confronted with a large gap of blank, white space, symbolic of the moments of meaninglessness and the lack of clarity that so often invade our orderly daily lives – it is our custom to recite the words Chazak, Chazak v'Nitchazayk. Let us be strong, let us be strong, let us strengthen each other. This is just such a time.
Rabbi Steven Kushner serves Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, N.J. This piece is adapted from an email he sent to congregants after the Boston Marathon bombings.