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Parkland, Florida Shooting: “This makes no sense, this is impossible….”

16 Feb

This morning, in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting tragedy, the following video caught my eye,

It is human nature, in the aftermath of tragedy, to try to make sense of it, to look for some rational explanation. We stand bewildered in the face of such evil.

On March 6, 2008, a man dressed similar to a yeshiva student appeared at the entrance of the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, carrying a “parcel” that concealed a Kalashnikov assault rifle and numerous magazines of ammunition. He entered the yeshiva and began to fire indiscriminately at the students who were learning in the library. During the pandemonium that followed, scores of screaming students tried to escape the hail of bullets, including jumping out of the yeshiva’s second and third story windows. In the end, eight students were killed, mostly teenagers ages 18 and under. Eleven others were wounded, three critically. Some of the victims were found still holding the sacred books from which they were learning before they were murdered.

A young American yeshiva student studying in Israel at the time of the Mercaz attack reflected about the experience and wrote:

What was I supposed to take from all of this? What was the message I was supposed to get? What was the lesson I was supposed to learn? That was the question that was driving me crazy. That was the question that I had to ask and answer. It seems to me, that’s the question that everyone must ask and answer, each in his or her own way.

Although we may look for some understanding, some meaning, some sense in the face of catastrophe,  it is best, in my opinion, to accept that there is no sense, there is no meaning. As Maimonides (1135-1204) taught, there are three sources of evil in the world.  One it is the result of being created as mortals, flesh and blood, susceptible to the elements. One is the result of bad choices we ourselves might make in terms of how we eat, drink, or otherwise live out our lives.  And the third source is the evil choices made by others that cause harm to others. (Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed III:12)

Unfortunately, writes Maimonides, in the third case, “the wronged individual has no device against them.”

With prayers for the families of the murdered, and for the recovery of the injured.