As we approach Shabbat here in Jerusalem, word has reached us that those responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings are two brothers from Chechniya. With the sparse information reaching us, it seems incomprehensible that an eight-year-old child posed any kind of affront or threat to these brothers. It is the random nature of the bombings that makes the bombings an act of terror.
This same week ends with the stunningly disappointing and irresponsible inaction of our Senate regarding the gun control legislation.
This week, we read a double Torah portion: Aharei-Mot and K'doshim. The words Aharei-Mot mean "after the death" and in the original context of the passage in Leviticus, refer to the death of Aaron's two sons. The second Torah portion of this double reading is K'doshim. The context of the name of this reading is a message to the Israelites: "Holy you will be, for I your Gor am holy."
But in the combining of the names of these two portions we create a new phrase: acharei-mot k'doshim, after the death of the holy ones.
The Torah describes Aaron's response to the shock of the death of his sons: Aaron stood in shocked silence.
There are a few moments after the shocking death of innocents, of those with souls bestowed by the Holy One, when standing in shocked silence is, perhaps, the only possible response. It gives us the opportunity to choose our response with care and compassion and perspective. To take responsibility for the common good, to protect the innocent as best we can against the randomness of terrorism and, at the same time, take care not to indulge in the emotional "terrorism" of bigotry and suspicion and blame.
We pray that friends and family and the God who created us all will bring comfort to the bereaved families of Newtown and Boston and West, Texas. That our leaders will put the welfare of our people ahead of political self-interest. That the injured and those who support them will heal quickly and completely in body and spirit.
Shalom from Jerusalem.
Rabbi Amy Levin
has been Torat Yisrael's rabbi since the summer of 2004 and serves as President of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island.