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The Answer to “Why?”

By Zalmi Unsdorfer
7/1/2014, 12:07 AM

Where there is faith there are no questions … without faith there are no answers.

The only thing more striking than the savagery of this event is the spontaneous outpouring of prayer and tehillim that took hold across the entire Jewish world for 18 days. There has hardly been a precedent on this scale in living memory.

On the first day even secular Israelis came to the Western Wall looking to join or at least associate with the swaying masses of praying Haredim from whom they were so recently alienated in the debate on army service.

We are told that the Almighty needs our prayers to reassure Him that we have not forgotten that there is a father in heaven. How sad that such terrible things need to happen to mobilise us to prayer.  But a father’s primary purpose is to teach his children and guide them in the right path.

This Father sent us the Yom Kippur War to warn us not to be complacent and that we could easily be taken by surprise. He sent us the Carmel fire to teach us that in a missile war we couldn’t afford to be without firefighting aircraft. And this event has also been a lesson. That that we must never release killers, least of all for the ‘privilege’ of sitting down with our enemies and negotiating away parts of our blessed land and our security.

They came to pray at the Wall because it is the last remnant of the Temple and it is where every Jew feels closer to G-d than anywhere else in the world.

And to those asking “Why did this happen?” – that Wall also provides the answer.

We could have been left many remnants of the Temple.  An arch, or maybe a pillar or a piece of a stone altar.

Instead we were left with a wall.

A simple but strong structure of partition.

We know that behind that wall lies the nemesis of our people and all that we stand for. Not far removed from the murderers of 9-11 or the barbaric beheaders of ISIS, they deny our Temple, our Shoah and our very right to exist. By their own admission they glorify death just as we cherish life.

Just as people forget that there is a father in heaven, many of us also forget - or refuse to accept - that there is true evil in this world. And so, things like this happen to wake us up and bring us back to the Wall in search of answers. To remind us never to lower our guard. Never to trust or build bridges with these forces of pure evil, under whatever guise they present themselves or for whatever short-term gains or plaudits are promised from the wider world.

The realists in Israel have recognised this and extended the Wall with a security fence across many hundreds of miles. Our detractors refer to it as a ‘separation barrier’ and, in this context at least, maybe they are right.

It’s no accident that we were left with just a wall.

After 2,000 years it’s now very old and cracked in many places.

What better way to insulate us from such a parallel universe of hate and brutality than with the thousands of notes squashed into those cracks, each one carrying the pleas and prayers of decent people who share and cherish our simple humanitarian values.

עַל־אֵ֣לֶּה ׀ אֲנִ֣י בֹוכִיָּ֗ה עֵינִ֤י ׀ עֵינִי֙ יֹ֣רְדָה מַּ֔יִם כִּֽי־רָחַ֥ק מִמֶּ֛נִּי מְנַחֵ֖ם מֵשִׁ֣יב נַפְשִׁ֑י הָי֤וּ בָנַי֙ שֹֽׁומֵמִ֔ים כִּ֥י גָבַ֖ר אֹויֵֽב׃

“For these I weep; my eyes flow with tears; for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my spirit; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed.”

Kotel ZalmiU