Upon hearing especially bad news, and upon hearing of a death, many Jews utter a simple blessing that acknowledges God as the "true judge," implying that the circumstances of such an unfortunate occurence are beyond our control and that the explanation lies in the mind of the Divine.
It's not a particularly easy blessing to say, though I've found it gives me some comfort and at least gives me something to say. However, I struggle even more with the blessing when the reason seems so clearly to stem from human actions.
This afternoon, headlines blared with the news of a fatal shooting at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. The shooter, an Arab from East Jerusalem, was ultimately killed by a paratrooper who was a student at the yeshiva and two police detectives. However, before he was taken down, eight students were killed and many more wounded.
In the midst of preparations for the new month of Adar, traditionally a month of joy and celebration, those on all sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict must now choke down a bitter pill of escalating retaliations across Israel and Palestine. Ironically close to the land where Hammurabi's Code (and the Torah for that matter) set down the framework of an eye for an eye, innocent civilians must grapple with the ramifications of violence almost every day.
It's far beyond the scope of this blog, or my few dabblings in studying this conflict, to make salient policy recommendations or to condemn politicians anywhere on the spectrum. All I can do - and I ask my readers to do the same - is to pray for peace wherever there is conflict.
This particular, horribly bloodied battle, remains closest to my heart, because I am a Jew, but I am also keenly aware of similar fights around the globe - in Kenya, in Columbia, in Pakistan.
May God grant true and lasting peace to all who dwell on earth, and bless all of us with the gift of peace.