We Don’t Celebrate Death, But We Want the Eradication of Evil

Yidden don’t celebrate death, but we do celebrate the eradication of evil. Turning to today’s evils, negotiations of any kind with terrorists is music to their ears. And music is not the sound they deserve to hear.

By Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier – The Beis Medrash

Between 1950 and 1953, a group of predominantly Jewish doctors was accused of conspiring to assassinate Soviet leaders. The famous case known as the Doctors’ Plot put the lives of all Yidden in the Soviet Union in serious danger. On January 13, 1953, the official Soviet media announced the upcoming “trial” of these doctors. Tension grew with each passing day. But then an unthinkable miracle occurred: On Sunday, March 1st, Stalin suddenly fell ill and died a few days later. Shortly after his death, the accusations against the doctors were proven false and the case was dropped.

During the Rebbe’s Purim farbrengen that Sunday night, the Rebbe suddenly became very serious and with great emotion told the following story:

Following the Russian revolution, the Rebbe Rashab instructed his chassidim to take part in the elections. A certain chossid who was oblivious to all worldly matters promptly went to the mikvah, put on his gartel, and proceeded to follow his fellow chassidim to the election site. After casting his vote, the naive chossid heard people chanting, “Hoora! Hoora! Hoora!” Thinking that they mean the Hebrew words הוא רע, he is evil, the chossid chanted right along with them.

As the Rebbe said these words, the chassidim in 770 felt that something heavenly was happening and instinctively they all cried out, “Hu-ra! Hu-ra! Hu-ra!” over and over again.

It took a few days but eventually everyone connected the dots.[1]

As Yidden, we don’t celebrate death. Even the death of the wicked.

Chazal say that as the Yidden crossed the Yam Suf, the malachim wanted to sing shirah to Hashem but Hashem didn’t allow them to. “My handiwork drowned in the sea and you want to sing shirah?!”

It’s for this reason that we don’t recite the whole Hallel on the last days of Pesach, when the splitting of the sea happened. Because Hashem’s creatures died and Yidden don’t celebrate death.

But there’s an important twist.

Reb Heschel of Cracow [2] asks two questions on the above Chazal. Firstly, the Mitzriim only drowned in the morning, so what could be the problem with the malachim singing the night before, as the Yiddencrossed the sea? Secondly, what is wrong with singing at a time like this? Does the passuk not say, באבוד רשעים רנה, “and when the wicked perish, there is song”?!

He explains that on the 7th night of Pesach hundreds of years later, King Sancherev’s army surrounded the walls of Yerushalayim, prepared to invade. Hashem sent His malachim to sing into the ears of the soldiers and they all perished from the overwhelming holiness.

As the Mitzriim were about to enter the sea, the malachim said to Hashem: Why don’t we do as we will do in the future? Instead of drowning the Mitzriim, why not kill them through song?

To this Hashem responded: “My handiwork,” referring to the Jewish children, “drowned in the sea,” referring to Pharaoh’s decree to cast all Jewish boys into the sea, “and you’re suggesting that Pharaoh and his people die a peaceful death?! Absolutely not! They deserve to be punished measure for measure.”

Yidden don’t celebrate death, but we do celebrate the eradication of evil. And we do ask Hashem to punish those who perpetuate evil.

Turning to today’s evils. Negotiations of any kind with terrorists is music to their ears. And music is not the sound they deserve to hear.

May we see Hashem’s strong Hand protect our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisroel, and annihilate all evil, forever, with the coming of Moshiach, when we will finally sing the song of all songs.

[1] My appreciation to Rabbi Michoel Seligson for sharing the details of this episode with me.

[2] Chanukas HaTorah. See also the maamar Shir Hashirim 5725.

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  1. The Shaloh Hak’ explains the above mentioned verse:
    “My handiwork drowned in the sea and you want to sing shirah?!”

    As follows: Only NOW you want to sing shira? You should have sang in advance with certainty out of great Emunah!!!

    So to now let us strengthen in Bitachon with certainty and bring the Geulah now!

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