Over a decade ago, two IAF helicopters collided in Lebanon. 73 soldiers died. In my Yeshiva, all sorts of expositions on the “reasons” for the crash were heard (some perceptive, some misguided). Ultimately, the Yeshiva conducted a special drash in the Beit Midrash regarding the tragedy. R. Nachmun Bullman, ztkl, gave the drash.
R. Bullman cried from the pain and the loss. He cries for the soldiers and their parents and loved ones. He cried for the Jewish People. And he cried when he darshaned (explained) out the event as a call to repentance.
That day, I learned that any explanation of the meaning of tragic events must be accompanied by feelings of love, compassion, and empathy for another’s pain.
So what is the tshuva here?
This week’s Torah portion is Parshat Ekev. The verse reads, “And you will say in your heart, my strength and the power of my hand made me all this wealth (hayil). Then you shall remember that HaShem, your G-d; that it was He Who gave you the strenght to make wealth, in order to establish his covenant. . .(Deut. 8:17-18).
Let’s be honest here. War is looming between Edom and Paras. The IAF in Romania are preparing for this war (and extractions of downed pilots in mountainous regions in particular). In dangerous times like these its imperative that we remember that it is HaShem that gives us the strength to prevail against our enemies.
There is no question that this event is causing ripples of arousal to repentance (tshuva) in those close and near to the soldiers who died. The tshuva done as a consequence of this accident will, G-d willing, be immense and important.
There is precedent for this. R. Shalom Arush (he should live and be well), the author of the Garden of Emuna, for example, was inspired to thoughts of tshuva after his close friends were killed in a military helicopter crash. There is no question in my mind that something similar is happening here, and that the soldiers who were killed were holy, as were Nadav and Avihu.
HaShem should guide, bless, and protect, and provide consolation to the mourners of Zion.