Photo Credit: Jewish Press

An individual wrote to the Lubavitcher Rebbe asking about a tragic event that took place in his home. He had commissioned the writing of a Sefer Torah and was hosting a festive meal on Shavuos to celebrate the upcoming Hachnasas Sefer Torah. Suddenly, however, one of the guests – a young woman – fell ill and passed away.

The man was perturbed: How could tragedy strike in the context of a gathering celebrating the writing of a new Sefer Torah? And how to understand the fact that it took place in his home?


The Rebbe began his response as follows:

“1. It is impossible for a limited creation to comprehend all the reasons of the unlimited Creator. We would not be able to know even some of His reasons if not for G-d telling us to search for them in His Torah (which also means ‘instruction’).

“2. According to Torah, it is impossible for something negative to result from the Creator’s Torah and Mitzvos – including from His Sefer Torah – rather, on the contrary, they prevent evil from happening.

“3. Each person has an allotted amount of time on earth. (Only by extreme measures can a person cause their life to be lengthened, or shortened, G-d forbid – such as through terrible sins.)

“4. Based on the above, it can possibly be suggested: If the woman who passed away would not have been invited to the Torah celebration, she could have found herself, at the onset of the attack, in entirely different surroundings – in the street, amongst non-Jews or strangers. Instead, she was among fellow Jews, and there was a religious doctor and friend right there to treat her and offer encouraging words.

“Is it possible to imagine: (a) the contrast between the two scenarios? (b) What a person experiences during each of their final moments – especially this young, religious woman on the festival when we celebrate the Giving of the Torah?!

“5. According to the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching that every detail that takes place in this world is governed and directed by Divine Providence, this very well may be the reason that you were inspired from Heaven to dedicate a Sefer Torah in the first place – so that this young woman’s soul could ascend to Heaven with an inner calm, in a Jewish home, marked and guarded with a mezuzah that contains the verse Shema Yisroel.”

The Rebbe concluded the letter with these words:

“It appears that you and your wife possess great merit, as you were granted from Above – without any effort on your part – the opportunity to perform a tremendous mitzvah: (a) To ease the final moments of a person’s life, (b) and to take care of a meis mitzvah, which is a mitzvah of the highest order.

“These merits also come with special obligations. They include explaining the above points to those who ask questions about this event, until everyone will see the event in its true light: a wondrous display of Divine Providence.”


Previous articleAnti-Israel Seminary Students have Forfeited the Right to be Rabbis
Next articleGaza-Based Journalist: Things Are Bad, What’s Left to Do? Fire Rockets at Israel
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman is director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization. He can be reached at [email protected].