Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, leader of the Lithuanian-haredi community, sent a condolence letter to the Glustein family, which lost its mother and two daughters in a bus crash last week.
"Every heart melts to hear the news which has come, of the sudden passage in her young years of the important woman, Mrs. Shoshana Raizel Glustein, of blessed memory, with her two dear daughters, of blessed memory, souls who never tasted sin," Rabbi Edelstein began. "May G-d comfort her husband, Rabbi Dov, may he live a long life, with his dear children, may they live long lives, her dear parents, may they live long lives, and all of the family members, may they live long lives, among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, and may you never know grief again."
"Behold, we do not know the ways of Heaven, but with a tragedy such as this, the question is asked, 'What is this, that G-d has done to us?' because this is intended not just for the family but for each and every person."
Rabbi Edelstein then quoted from the Talmud, relating that one of the Amora'im (sages) lost a child, and another came to pay condolences, telling him that the child's death had atoned for the sins of the generation, similar to how the deaths of the righteous atone for the sins of the generation.
"Meaning, that the father and all of the family members are important, that their pain atones for the generation and awakens [people] to repentance, and this is what it means that through the fact that people awaken to examine themselves, our ways and our actions, and not to distract from that which needs correction, this is comfort to the important families, whose pain is important enough to atone for the entire generation."
Turning from the bereaved family to the public, Rabbi Edelstein continued, "Therefore, the public has an obligation to awaken and repent, and correct our ways and our deeds and add merits - and each person knows the sins of his heart - to fix what needs fixing in him, and the most important thing is to become stronger in the three pillars of the world: Torah, service of G-d, and lovingkindness, and especially now, during the weeks between the Ninth of Av and the month of Elul, we must increase in Torah, each adding according to his strength. The value of even another few minutes cannot be imagined."
Rabbi Edelstein concluded, "May G-d help us, that from now on there will be only good news, and may the entire family from now on merit good and happy lives, and know only joy and happiness, and may their grief and agony disappear through the years, and may they merit years replete with pleasure."