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"Why do we mention "the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem" when offering condolences to an individual mourning a personal loss?

by Rabbi M. Schneerson

  

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(Ed. note: the following was translated from a letter of condolences sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to (then) General Arial Sharon upon the untimely and tragic death of his eleven year old son, Gur).

Greetings and Blessings!

I was deeply distressed to hear of your great loss -- the tragic death of your young son, may he rest in peace. It is not given to us to know the ways of the Creator. During the war, during the time of danger, it was His will that all be saved. Indeed, you, sir, were one of those who achieved victory for our people of Israel against our enemies, when the many were delivered into the hands of the few. Yet, at home and during a time of peace, this terrible tragedy happened. But how can a mortal understand the ways of the Creator? There is no comparing our minds and His. We do not wonder that a small child does not understand the ways and conduct of an old and wise man, though the difference between them is relatively insignificant.

the grief-stricken individual or family will find solace in the thought that... their sorrow is shared by all our people.
This is no attempt to minimize the extent of your pain and grief, and I, too, share in your sorrow, though I am so far from you.

Even in such a great tragedy as this, solace can be found in the words of our traditional expression of consolation to mourners -- an expression which has become hallowed by the law and tradition of many generations of our people – "May the Almighty comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem." We may ask, why mention those who mourn for "Zion and Jerusalem" when comforting an individual on his personal loss? A deeper analysis will, however, reveal that the mourner will find comfort precisely in this comparison of his loss with the Destruction and exile of Zion, for several reasons.

First, the mourning over the Destruction of Zion and Jerusalem is shared by Jews the world over. It is true that those who live in Jerusalem and actually see the Western Wall and our Beis Hamikdosh in ruins feel the anguish more deeply, but even those who live far away feel sorrow. Similarly, the grief-stricken individual or family will find solace in the thought that "all the children of Israel are as one complete whole", that their sorrow is shared by all our people.

We are equally confident that G-d will fulfill His promise that "...the dwellers of dust (the dead) shall awake and give praise"
Second, we have perfect confidence that G-d will rebuild the ruins of Zion and Jerusalem; He will gather the dispersed remnants of Israel from the ends of the earth through our righteous Moshiach, and he will bring them in gladness to witness the joy of Zion and Jerusalem. We are equally confident that G-d will fulfill His promise that "...the dwellers of dust (the dead) shall awake and give praise (Isaiah 26:19)." Great indeed will be the happiness and rejoicing then, when all will meet together after the Revival of the Dead.

Third, the Babylonians and the Romans were able to destroy only the Beis Hamikdosh of wood and stone, of gold and silver, but they could not harm the inner "Beis Hamikdosh" in the heart of every Jew, for it is eternal. In the very same way, the hand of death can touch only the body, but the soul is eternal; it has simply ascended to the World of Truth. Every good deed we do in accordance with the will of G-d, the Giver of life, adds to the merit of the departed soul, as well as to its spiritual welfare.

In the very same way, the hand of death can touch only the body, but the soul is eternal; it has simply ascended to the World of Truth.
May it be G-d's will that you and your family know no more pain and distress. May you find true comfort and solace in your communal endeavors, defending the Holy Land, the land "...over which G-d your L-rd watches from the beginning of the year until the end of the year (Deuteronomy 11:12)," as well as in those endeavors of your private life -- observing the Mitzvah of Tefillin, one Mitzvah bringing another, and yet another in its train.

Menachem Schneerson


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Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Moshiach
The Messiah. Moshiach is the person who will usher in an era of peace and tranquility for all of humanity when there will be no jealousy or hate, wars or famine. This is a fundamental Jewish belief.
Tefillin
Black leather boxes containing small scrolls with passages of the Bible written on them. Every day, aside for Sabbath and Jewish holidays, the adult Jewish male is required to wrap the Tefillin--by means of black leather straps--around the weaker arm and atop the forehead.
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Lubavitcher
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
Western Wall
The western wall of the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem. "The Divine Presence never left the Western Wall," and to this day, the Wall remains a holy shrine and a place for prayer.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Isaiah
1. One of the greatest prophets, lived in the 7th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies of Isaiah. The book is filled with prophecies concerning the Messianic redemption.
Deuteronomy
The fifth of the Five Books of Moses. This book is a record of the monologue which Moses spoke to the Israelites in the five weeks prior to his passing.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.