Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Show Me Your Hand

I'm a coward.

I didn't look at the Itamar massacre pictures.

I understand that the family wanted to make these pictures public...wanted the world to see. And maybe I owe it to them and to the victims and to everyone else who risks their lives to live where they do, to look at the pictures. To understand the brutality and mourn along with them.

But I can't bring myself to do it.

I am heartbroken just hearing about it. I am so deeply shaken by the images in my mind. The three month old baby, stabbed in the heart, his hands curled into tiny fists. The twelve year old little girl, coming home to this horror. The trauma she will live with for the rest of her life. The parents and the innocent children, their throats slashed. The pain and grief of the surviving children.

Aren't we the wrong audience for these disturbing images? Shouldn't these pictures be seen by those who trust that there is some sort of heaven for the decapitation of a baby? For those who believe in sacrificing an innocent child to cure all the world's ills? For those who imagine that the slaughter of a tiny baby is a fitting punishment for...for anything?

When I was in school, we learned about what the world will be like when Moshiach comes, and what will happen before his arrival. We were taught about a climactic battle instigated by Gog and Magog, and even as a young child, that terrified me. Today, I understand that there is so much about this battle that we don't know. We do not know whether this battle will be a physical or spiritual battle, or even whether it has already occurred or not. But when something horrific happens...something I can't fathom...the old fears resurface. If these are the birthpangs of Moshiach, am I ready for him? Will I ever be?

Help me to make sense of this. Help me with my utter lack of understanding.

The hamantasch symbolizes the nature of the Purim miracle. The outside is just plain dough. The true flavor is concealed inside.

Our lives are the same. Sometimes it seems as though there is no system in place...no direction to this cold and harsh universe. Things happen that seem haphazard and random. But this is not true. There is a system. But it is hidden. Below the surface, there is a Hand and a Heart that directs the universe.

We do not get to see this Hand often. Purim is one day when it was shown...when we glimpsed what lies beyond the outer shell. Purim reminds us that nothing is random.

May we see open miracles...the Hand and the Heart...very soon.


  1. You're not a coward. Like you said, I don't think it serves any purpose to see the gruesome pictures and besides, it's probably not kavod for the niftarim.

    In any case, this is a beautiful post and Amen to your Bracha.

  2. I agree with Sun inside Rain.
    You are not a coward.
    Neither am I.
    I made a conscious decision not to look at these photos.
    I am beginning to feel (in my old age ;) ) that rather than serve their intended purpose, these types of photos only serve to desensitize us to the actual horror.
    I will no longer allow my morbid curiosity to interfere with what I know is right for me.

  3. I wont say it is cowardly, however, i think it is very important. We go to holocaust museums for a reason. Its horrible and gruesome, but it is something we do in order to know what evil is. In order to understand what we are up against. In order to see what type darkness exists, letting us know how much of an impact every small good deed has. A tiny drop of light changes that much in a dark world.
    The pictures being displayed is a great Kavod to the kedoshim. It is something that inspired many to do good, inspired many to keep the fight for our land going. It let the world know what type of animals we are up against. It lets the world know that yidden are prepared to go on mesiras nefesh for eretz hakdosha. Our land, which as the first rashi on chumish tells us when the nations accuse us of stealing the land we can respond and say no, -d created this whole world and he gave eretz yisroel to us! Including gaza, rammala, yerushalayim and chevron!

  4. Burnt Dreadlocks, how did publicizing the pictures achieve all that? I think the tragic news was devastating and "inspiring" in and of itself. I can't imagine that anyone actually needed to see the pictures to propel them to do all that you've said was or will be done.

  5. The visuals add a lot. How is the story in Japan, 12000 dead affecting your day. how is it affecting anyones day. It isnt really. Unless you have family there or something. Sure, you are like, dude, thats horrible, but you dont really understand it. When you however see pictures of a five years old, lying dead in a pool of his own blood, that strikes a cord in you. Especially for say an unaffiliated person, not jewish, or whatever, seeing something like that makes you stop and say wow. There is such evil out there! I gotta be better in the face of such a thing. There is so much I have we can do to change this world, to make it a kinder better happier place, lets do it! I for one was inspired to immediately give money to the ILF (Israel Land Fund, ran by Aryeh King, son in law of Irving Moskowitz, one of the behind the scenes founders and backers of Ateres Cohanim)in order to buy up and build more of our homeland.

  6. Reb Noach Weinberg said, "You have not begun to live until you have found something to die for."
    I saw those pictures, to be honest, I saw them before I knew what they were. I don't think I would go looking for something like that to get my heart racing and feel, the loss hit me without it. The visual did give me that thought, that I have something to die for so I will live to the best of my ability achieving that goal.
    It also brought home the reality that I do live in a war-torn country, and I need to take proper measures for my safety. We live in a community where we have security and a gate, but that doesn't seem to stop someone determined.

  7. SIR...

    I agree with you about kavod for the niftarim. I wasn't thinking of that, but it's a good point.
    Thank you.


    For me, I don't think it was a conscious decision. I just can't do it. That's why I called myself a coward.

    Burnt Dreadlocks...

    I think the Holocaust is different. As time goes by, things start to fade, and sometimes we need a more powerful reminder. I'm still not a big fan of looking at gruesome pictures, but I can see the purpose. Here, like SIR said, you don't need to look at the pictures to see the evil...to understand...or to be inspired. The story itself is enough. And G6 made a good point. Pictures desensitize us.


    Kol Hakavod. I am inspired by people who give up comforts to do what they believe in.

  8. The first holocaust museum was opened in 1949, long before memories started to fade. And you can say on the contrary, half the jews went through the holocaust, and the ones that didnt, all had relatives that did. There on the other hand, it is 'just' one family. Israel has gone through years of terror attacks, how vivid are those in your mind? How vividly do you remember something as close back as the Mercaz Harav massacre? I'll bet you there are readers of this blog who couldnt tell me how many boys were killed there!
    Things begin to fade. Viewing those pictures imprints the horror in your mind, so that you never forget it. Im sure many of you read that Rami Levy pledged to supply the family with groceries and stuff until the youngest child is 18. Beautiful thing. Moishiach will definitely be here by then, but theoretically speaking, how many others do you think will have them in mind in such a way 18 years down the line? Seeing the pictures makes it forever occupy a place in your heart, mind and soul.

  9. Burnt Dreadlocks...

    I just watched a video of the family BEFORE the tragedy, just being a family. That made me feel even more pain than seeing disturbing pictures. I cried through the whole thing. I think that's enough - for me.

  10. I second that, MW. Last night, as I watched the family laughing in their home, playing with kapla blocks, the tall, lanky father putting his son on his shoulder so that he could reach the top... it accomplished even more than any of the most grisly crime scene pics could ever do. Hashem yinkom damam.

  11. I don't think it's we who need to see those pictures. The story itself is enough to shake up even the hardest of hearts.

    But those pictures are out there. Some people could handle seeing them and some cannot.

    I don't know if it's proper kavod to the meisim that their pictures are on display but I think the ones who really need to see them are the ones who are on the side of this cold-blodded murder. Let them see the pain. Let them see the graphic pictures. Enough pity towards the Palestinians. This is the suffering of OUR People and it's got to end!

  12. Shani...

    Right. That's the one I saw. Heartbreaking.


    Exactly. We're the wrong audience. We are already devastated by what happens. We don't need the pictures for that. I'm all for showing the pictures to the people who should see them.

  13. The definition of shake is to move to and fro. Meaning, that it returns to where it started. It cant be like That. This is something that has to make an imprint on your mind and soul forever.

    The people that support that pali's are saying it was done by a thai worker that they employed and were behind in payment. Reishis goyim amaliek, they will always hate us, no pictures, however gruesome will ever change that.

  14. Burnt Dreadlocks...

    I agree with you about Amaleik.

    Oh...Devorah...I was kinda hoping you'd have some answers...some way to make sense of this... I rely on you for that!

  15. Amen to your bracha. You are not a coward. Many people I know, did not look. It desensitizes you a bit more and it horrifies you at the same time. You should never have to see such things. That should stick to the horror movies which I never watch for a reason.

    I did not know that about the hamentasch. Thank you for that info- interesting. There are many ways to imagine sense into all that has occurred but we will never know until olam ha'emet.

    Don't ever be afraid to ask. I have heard answers of how to cope with this and everyone should if they are struggling. We have to know how to bear with such horrific news.

  16. R' Yaakov Solomon spoke about this specific topic. Should the public view the graphic pictures?

    I'm not the one who has all the answers. Hashem is the One who knows the reason.
    We don't know why it happened. What we can do is take a lesson from this act of terror and work on our unity. Work on being more peaceful. Work on being more pleasant, going out of our way to smile at strangers (yes, strangers!), hold the door open for someone, offer assistance...do what we can to bring the geula one step closer.
    They have tried to break us and we will not let that happen!

  17. I posted a link to them, but didn't look at them myself. I also agree with Devorah.