The Bible recounts the tragic and untimely passing of Aaron the High Priest's two sons: "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein...And there went out fire from the G-d and devoured them, and they died before G-d. Then Moses said to Aaron, "This is what G-d has said, 'Among those who are near me I will become sanctified.'" And Aaron remained silent." (Leviticus Ch. 10)
Words ring hollow. Words cannot express the deep-seeded emotions we all feel at the moment. Anger, grief, sorrow, shock, dismay and many more sensations are rolled into one raw mix. The wound is gaping and from our present standpoint it looks as though it can never heal.
When a life is taken it always makes for a news item that may or may not get our attention. When it's a young life many more stand up and take notice. When that innocent life is taken so brutally, people stand still and nod their heads in bewilderment. As this has now occurred in a manner unprecedented in American history, we are stunned into silence.
Religious leaders typically scramble to offer spiritual solace. "It's all part of a Divine plan..." "They're with G-d now..." etc. As a religious leader myself I maintain it's best not to talk. There is nothing to say. Pontificating in the face of tragedy is a futile, if not indeed heartless exercise. "And Aaron remained silent." It's not for anyone to preach and dictate emotions, nor to offer any 'spiritual spin' on this ineffable event.
Some people will look inward and soul search asking themselves some hard questions. There may be questions one can reflect upon - but none of them will bring a beautiful soul back, none of them can fill the void. Search within if you must, but don't worry about your anger, your tears, and don't believe for a minute that whatever answers you arrive at means that "something positive" has emerged from this tragedy. There is nothing positive, nothing good, nothing meaningful or comprehensible to the human mind in any of this, full stop.
Which brings us to G-d: Let's be clear. G-d didn't kill an innocent child. Some deranged sadistic individual did. "And G-d created man in His image." Having been created in the image of G-d means, human beings have independent moral choice. Choice is the essential issue of what makes us special. Life only becomes meaningful as a result of our ability to choose. But for free choice to operate, it's obvious that evil has to have the possibility of existing. Freedom of choice means that a world where a human being can create himself into an angel has to also carry the very real possibility of a person creating himself into a monster.
Sure we can ask why G-d didn't intercede; why didn't He enable something to happen that might have protected the victims in keeping with the dictum of the Psalmist: "G-d watches over the innocent." We don't have to simply shrug our shoulders and declare, "Ours is not to ask why!" We can ask and we should ask even as we know no answer is forthcoming. It is incumbent upon the believer to cry out, in the words of Moses in the Bible, "Why have you allowed evil to befall Your people?"
Religious believers don't need to whitewash this tragedy with spiritual tears or look to justify G-d's actions as it were. We need to cry, insist, demand of G-d to simply keep to the promise He made in Jeremiah (31:14): "A voice is heard on high, wailing, bitter weeping...for her children, for they are gone. Thus said G-d: Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears ...There is hope for your future...and your children will yet return home."
May all children find their way home safely and may all G-d's children finally make their way home to that long sought after dream of a world of only peace and harmony.
As for those beautiful children and their teachers and others who never made it home..."And Aaron remained silent."