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Boston Reflections

04/18/2013 10:07:18 AM

Apr18

This week, our nation, so recently stunned by the tragedy of Newtown, finds itself once again forced to face the horror of senseless violence and terror. As we see the graphic images and hear the stories from the Boston Marathon bombings, we are overwhelmed by emotion—sadness, fear, confusion and anger. As parents, we wonder how we can speak to our children about this event, especially when we ourselves find it so incredibly painful to face. We want our children to feel safe and secure. We want our children to be safe and secure. We want them to grow up in a better world, one in which their childhoods won’t be tainted by evil and hatred.

As we struggle to find the words to speak to our children, though, it is important that we ourselves be the ones to shape our children’s understanding of the world. In that light, I am offering a brief Jewish perspective on teaching our children how to respond to violence, such as that which they have witnessed this week. At Chanukah, Rabbi Weiner spoke to the children about the power of light, and of the importance of spreading light in times of darkness. This is a powerful Jewish perspective on responding to evil. Our tradition teaches us that in times when there are no righteous people around us, we must struggle to be righteous. In the time of Sodom, when society was engulfed by evil, God planned to destroy the city. Abraham argued that for the sake of even one good person, God should save the city, and God was convinced by his argument. Indeed the Talmud presents the idea that there are 36 anonymous tzadikim—righteous people—in the world, who sustain the whole of the earth. The lesson here is that goodness, kindness and righteousness are more powerful than darkness and evil. One good person can change the world.

In talking about Boston, we can point out to our children than while one person did this terrible thing, countless people responded with courage, compassion and righteousness. There were too many tzadikim to count—those who rushed into the carnage to rescue others, gave blood, and literally opened their doors to survivors. There were incredible doctors and nurses who worked tirelessly to save and heal the victims. People not only in the United States, but across the world responded with words of love and support, and prayed for all who were hurt or killed. We can acknowledge the terrible, while turning our focus to good and beauty.

We can encourage our children to react to tragedy by engaging in extra acts of loving kindness. They can tell others that they are doing kind acts to honor the victims of Boston, and they can encourage their friends to spread the word that we must answer fear and hatred with goodness and kindness. These acts can be tied to the tragedy itself. In the coming days, you will be receiving information about how you and your families can help. Acts of kindness can take place in our own communities, as well, and are a powerful and Jewish response to violence.

In a time of darkness, let us spread light. In a time of violence, let us spread peace. In a time of hatred, let us spread love. We cannot undo what our children have heard, and we cannot make this world entirely safe or secure. What we can do is teach our children that they can be God’s partners in making this a better world.

Tue, October 22 2019 23 Tishrei 5780