By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey
I simply don't know what to say.
I am still having a hard time trying to absorb the news myself, let alone trying to help others work through it. The reality that three mothers and fathers of Israel will never be able to hug their teenage sons again doesn't let me rest. My mind doesn't let me go near the heartbreaking thoughts of what these boys endured. My heart pounds with a fearful awareness of their suffering at the hands of cruel creatures.
We know not to ask "Why" anymore. The mysteries of Your ways are too deep for us to absorb. I cringe when I hear people explaining the unexplainable.
But "When?" we can - and must - ask. When will the tragedy and suffering stop? This is a question we ask, we pray for, we cry for. This isn't necessarily a question people ask me, it's a question we are all asking You, Almighty.
Nearly three weeks ago, three young boys Yaakov Naftali Frankel, Gilad Michoel Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were kidnapped and the world united in a hopeful prayer for their safe release and return home. It was a prayer to You, a message to the world, and a vote of confidence in Your servants, the soldiers of Israel who risked their lives in pursuit of these three innocent souls, all with the assumption that we would soon see them back home again.
But today, as the world heard the horrific, resounding NO to those combined assumptions, we have no choice other than to direct the message exclusively to the one place that can now resolve this tragedy, to You, our Father in Heaven, as we cry out in pain BRING BACK OUR BOYS! Yes, you promised it to our forefathers, promoted it through our prophets, and Maimonides codified it as a fundamental principle of our faith - that there will come a time when our suffering will end and those taken from us will be brought back again.
Now is the time. We can not wait any longer. Their mothers and fathers are crying and we are all crying with them.
Our thoughts and prayers have been with them since their kidnapping, and in their death we will not part from them.
The deaths of these three kedoshim represent a profound loss to Klal Yisrael. Hashem Yikom Damam.
How long must this painful exile go on? We are shattered by their loss, but committed that it should not be in vain. Once again we must ask that Hashem avenge their blood, and may this be the last time that such a call is necessary. Please end this exile and bring Moshiach today!
As we stood united with all of world Jewry in praying for the return of our boys, we mourn with them their brutal, tragic deaths.
To the parents, families and friends of the boys, may G-d console you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Our hearts are with you.
Though I cannot understand, I do know what I can do. Our response to tragedy - especially evil tragedy - must be to add more light. Please join me in committing to do another mitzvah in the memory of these three sacred souls.