News From Ramaz
By Rabbi Justin Pines, MS Mashgiach Ruchani
I was planning to talk to you today about Yom HaShoah, one of the many ways in which we remember and learn from the Holocaust. Unfortunately, though we say never again, and never forget, this past Shabbat, our brothers and sisters were attacked, in a Shul, for being Jewish, and a 60 year old woman named Lori Kaye was murdered. It is difficult to try to understand these terrible acts. We ask Hashem why? As I have told you before, no answer is ever good enough, and I won't offer an answer. But I will say that for me, when I think I about the Holocaust, and I think about senseless acts of hate, I think about bechira - choice . No matter how terrible the situation, there is always bechira. As you know, my grandfather, Murray Pantirer, who lost all 6 of his siblings and both of his parents in the Holocaust, was saved by a German businessman named Oskar Schindler, who chose to save the lives of over a thousand Jews instead of becoming rich from World War II.
But even the Jews were faced with decisions, sometimes impossible decisions, during the Holocaust. When my grandfather's parents, Lejzer and Bella Pantirer, and his two youngest siblings, Yisroel Dovid Tuvia and Chaya Rochel, ages 9 and 7, were rounded up by the Nazis, and the soldiers directed his father to one line to be sent to a labor camp, and his mother and siblings to the other line to be murdered - Lejzer made a bechira - he refused to leave his wife's side, and the four of them were killed on the spot, Lejzer holding one child, and Bella holding the other.
And then this past Shabbat, when the murderer opened fire on the rabbi, Lori Kaye stepped in front of the rabbi to try to protect him, and lost her life.
Other stories of heroic acts are continuing to come out, and I am sure there will be more.
These are terrible situations. And I encourage you to take time this week to speak about both the Shoah and what happened in Poway with friends and family, and, when appropriate with trained professionals.
Remember that for every terrible decision being made by a murderer, there are countless other positive and often heroic choices - bechiras - being made.
God forbid we should ever ever be in a terrible situation like that, but we do have endless bechira points every day. In honor of Lori Kaye, let's try to make one positive bechira each day for the rest of the week.