I didn't want to write about Pittsburgh or the wild fires, but people have been repeatedly requesting. So before I write, I recite this short prayer and ask Hashem to illuminate my eyes to the message He wants to convey to our people wherever they are, in Israel and abroad. I pray that Hashem should guide me to truth, which as Rebbe Nachman teaches, can only be attained through emuna and self-nullification. Hashem, let this post be for Your honor exclusively and for the good of our people, amen!
On Shabbat, Oct. 27, 2018, the angel of death masquerading as arch Jew-hater Robert Bowers entered the Shabbat morning services of the "Tree of Life" synagogue in Pittsburgh and gunned down eleven of our holy brethren, of blessed and sacred memory, all martyrs, including a 97-year-old woman, a husband and wife, and two brothers. Yes, they were conservative Jews but all hand-picked by Hashem to be holy martyrs. Why holy martyrs? Our people, because of a certain blemish they've not yet overcome, need martyrs to atone for them. The angel of death and his accomplices such as the Neo-Nazis and other terrorists simply do the dirty work. Guns fire bullets; the martyrs' deaths according to Kabbalah was death by fire.
At the time of this writing, the fires in California have taken the lives of 48 people that authorities know about; that number is expected to rise as rescue teams make it into areas that they previously had no access to. Over 8000 people have lost their homes, many of them Jews. Many others have been evacuated (remindful of Gush Katif?). They are now in a double exile, or an exile within an exile. This is a double atonement, not only for them but for all of our people. The Gemara says that losing one's assets is tantamount to death. This atonement and cleansing of sin here is again by fire.
By no small coincidence, when the final campaigning for the runoff of the municipal elections in Israel was taking place, and Jews were slinging the worst type of mud at one another including the worst type of infighting between different camps of Orthodox Jews, Hostilities broke out in Gaza. 470 missiles rained down on the south of Israel, also leading to repeated exile - from homes to bomb shelters. Miraculously, only one person was killed but many suffered loss of homes just like our brethren in Southern Califormia. I repeat - missile fire - once again, the atonement and cleansing of sin here is again by fire, and that's after the recent weeks where thousands of acres in the south of Israel have been burned by wild fires caused by incendiary balloons from Gaza. Once more, the culprit of fire.
Pittsburgh, California, Sderot or Ashkelon - it doesn't matter. We are one people like one body. The schism between American and Israeli Jews is inane. OK, there's an ideological difference between Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews - granted. But we're all brothers. The intramural hate destroyed the holy Temple. Our sages call the intramural hate, fire of contention. This comes from one of King Solomon's sayings (Proverbs 25:24) which says, "It is better to dwell in a roof corner than in a house with with the fire of contention."
Your dictionary will define contention as discord, conflict, friction, strife, dissension, and/or disharmony. Is this not the state of the Jewish People today? My beloved teacher Rav Shalom Arush constantly calls for an end to this. He warns against speaking detrimentally against any other Jew on earth, even those who cause us the worst grief. Do we hear any other voice saying the same thing, or do we only hear the so-called leaders who despise other Jews "for the sake of Hashem". When will they ever learn?
The fire of Pittsburgh, California and the South of Israel all come to atone for the fire of contention and intramural hate.
Almost a thousand years ago, the holy Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid said that an enemy can not touch a hair on a Jewish head until one Jew harms another Jew, even verbally. The holy Chafetz Chaim said the same thing before he left this world, less than nine decades ago. Do you realize what that means?
Any Jew who hates any other Jew - no matter the color, origin, creed or ideology - creates a negative spiritual force that embodies itself in a terrorist, a missile or a wildfire. Anyone who doesn't do immediate teshuva for hating their fellow Jew cannot say, "My hands did not spill the blood of Pittsburgh, give power to Hamas, or fan the fires of California.
For our own future, let's start loving one another. One cannot love a fellow Jew unless he/she first strengthens themselves in emuna, believing that we all have the same Father in Heaven, for the Torah tells us that we are His children. Nothing gives a parent more pleasure when his/her children love each other. May we all follow the path of loving one another and may this be the end of sorry for our people everywhere, amen.