Op-ed: “Ta, how could this happen?”


fatherandsonsittingBy Noam Amdurski, Matzav.com

They were questions I was not prepared for. I stood there, mumbled an answer and said we’d discuss it more tomorrow.

My son had asked me about yesterday’s events.

“Ta, how could something like this happen? How could Hashem make it happen? Why would people do that? Why would a person try to get other people into so much trouble?”

They were innocent questions from an innocent 8-year-old child.

And my 12-year-old has the same questions no doubt – I can see it on his face – but he’s too ‘old’ to actually articulate the questions to me.

I thought it is only the adults talking about it. Apparently, the kids are too. And, like us, they want answers. But they want answers to their questions of how, what and why. Many adults, unfortunately, are more focused on the “who.” Children, in their innocence, simply want reasons and explanations.

What do we answer them? What is there to say? How are we to explain such gut-wrenching and heart-breaking episodes to our precious kids?

It seems like, with each passing day, we are being posed with more and more difficult questions by our children on a host of issues. Their innocence is stolen from them at such a young age. We have to educate them about their own safety, their privacy, their dignity, the fact that there are people out there who may be a danger to them, the need to be open with their parents, and more. And now we have to explain to them how evil can rear its ugly head in ways that befuddle the adults in their lives. How loyalty to family and friends can disappear, and how the impossible has become reality.

My son will come home from day camp today with the questions once again. And with perhaps additional questions. And he’ll pepper me again at the Shabbos table, at which time I will state that the Shabbos table is reserved for wonderful family conversation, beautiful zemiros and enjoying the Shabbos spirit. But sooner or later, I’ll have to have an answer. I’ll have to explain how this can happen.

What do I say?

What is there to say?

 {Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. ?? ????? ???? ?? ???? ???? ???’ Reb Noson Wachtfogel in his wisdom used to say “but what if he has no time & he has no saichel”? this is what happens- ?? ???? ?? ?????

  2. You read him an essay written by Rav Breuer in the 1950s entitled GLATT KOSHER – GLATT YOSHOR. It is printed in the appendix to the Feldheim biography. and then you explain to him that derech eretz kadma laTorah v’im ein derech eretz ein Torah.
    And then finally, you make sure that he is learning in a yeshiva where this is not only taught, but is also demonstrated constantly and consistently by the staff and hanhalah, where rabbeim don’t glorify yahadus by denigrating goyim, where he is told that cheating on a test is as bad as shortchanging someone, that his teachers of limudei chol are to be treated with the utmost kavod, both by the students and by the Torah staff. And then maybe, just maybe you’ll stand a chance.

  3. ?? ?????? ??? ???? ?? ???? ??? ????? ????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ????

    I will not judge the people who were arrested, as it says ?? ???? ?? ???? ?? ????? ??????.
    What is alleged to have happened is definately not the Derech of the Torah. Even after these arrests there are those that voice a sentiment “Oh what they did was not so bad it was only money laundering”. Well it was also a tremendous Chillul Hashem.

    When a person is under immense pressure at times they may do what is wrong. Maybe he felt abondoned by the community, maybe he felt so humiliated by what was said about him and he justified what he was doing. We all know the story of Kamtza Ubar Kamtza where due to his humiliation that caused the Churban Bais HaMikdash.

    My dear child, hopefully in these final days of our long Golus we should realize that we still have a lot to repair in the ??? ??? ?????? department. Let us all take upon ourselves to be extra careful in what we say one to the other.

    ?? ??? ??? ?? ?? ?? I have taken upon myself to study tha Halachos of Choshen Mishpat, and be honest no matter how difficult.

  4. OK. I can’t help it. I’ll add to it.

    “Ta, how could something like this happen? How could Hashem make it happen?”

    Explain to him that Hashem doesn’t make it happen. Hashem laid down laws of honesty for us to obey. We are tested every day through those laws. We are obligated to be honest, with everyone, even non-Jewish people. Some people don’t obey the laws, though they appear to be very frum. But their righteousness is a public show. They dress that way because it’s expected of them, if they want to fit in in their community. But it isn’t a true depiction of the state of their souls.

    This will be very confusing for a child who associates frum clothing with ethical behavior. Convince him that he’s not wrong for thinking that, since many such people are upstanding, but that there are some who dress that way and don’t behave properly. Eventually, he’ll get it.

  5. Answer him HONESTLY, you have a Chinuch moment:

    1] Everyone has a yetzer hara. People think they can bend a little with laws of the country or between their friends. They think nothing will ever become known. But it does. This is what the Pirkei Avos warns us “Ayin Roeh V’Ozen Shoma’as”. NOTHING is hidden forever.

    2] The police is there for your protection as we learn the reasons for a court system is “Without one, people will swallow each other alive”. When police arrest someone it is because they think they have enough proof that they are making the world a worse place. This is not Germany where they arrested everyone. As long as you follow the law you have nothing to fear.

    3] The mishna advises “Don’t invest and do business with a person who is on his way down, because you will go with him”. A person was on his way down for his own business problems and other people felt bad for him and did business with him. You have to be careful with people who have problems with the law.

    This is the approach Rabbi Finkel from Chicago would take. Kids deserve the truth, it’s the best approach. Behatzlachah!

  6. I feel that since you’r son is only 8 years old so you must give him the most simple explanation for his level wich happens to be how I also understand what has transpired: Everyone is taught from a young age that he has a Yetzer Hara and a Yetzer Tov and some people have a close relationship with there Yetzer Tov but R”L some have a close relationship with there Yetzer Hara. And if you want to go to the next level (for the 12 year old) you can say that just like in a person there is a Metzious of a Yetzer Tov and a Yetzer Ra so to there is a metzious of Tov in the world and there is a Metzious of evil in the world and what we are wittnessing is Evil itself. True and simple.

  7. You can say that in an unfortant world and a sad a ecnomy , people do things under pressure which gets them into serious trouble,

  8. If you keep avoiding his questions then he may stop asking but he will still have the questions — possibly seeking answers elsewhere.

  9. Just tell your son that a person facing a lengthy jail sentence has a huge nisayon, and he should daven that he should never find himself in such a situation, nor should any of us.

  10. “Their innocence is stolen from them at such a young age…”

    Au Contraire – You should be proud of your son for taking the innocent side, i.e. asking the questions in the first place. There is no better way to educate your children in morality than by teaching them that morality is about actions, not figures.

    In other words, theft, money laundering, organ trafficking, corruption, and breaking the law has ABSOLUTE boundaries which may never be crossed or approached, no matter how much of a Talmid Chacham you are or your father was…

    Your son is a smart kid…

  11. Dovid Landesman has hit a very sensitive point. In New York I heard many, many times that teachers in yeshivos and beis yaakovs were helping the students to cheat on the Regents because, “after all, it’s not Limudei Kodesh, it’s only the government.” (Not that this was confined to frume yidden, but they don’t have the Torah.) Now those children are grown up and teachers themselves.

    Reb Moshe zatzal had to make a very explicit ruling that it was not allowed for kollel families to lie to get government funds. And so on.

    The solution? I don’t know. But it would help a lot if Choshen Mishpat were taught with the same seriousness that Orach Chaim were taught in the yeshivos, and from a young age. Girls need this too, since girls many times are the ones working, and incidentally, often serve to act as an ezer k’negdo when they see their husbands doing something not right.

    Rav Breuer’s essay is indeed an eye-opener, and should be read by all those who are wondering how to act in doubtful situations.

    And perhaps we should look at our own daily conduct – all the “white lies” socially and the “fibs” on the income tax form and the stories about how someone “cleverly” got away with something. In the long run, it is we who have created this environment with our own actions and inactions.

  12. You tell him that Hakadosh Baruch is perfect and the Torah is perfect.However people are not!

    And that there are good and bad people in every society!Being frum or just looking frum doesn’t make you a good person!

    Having said all that it is not enough to be just a good Jew at heart.Teach your child that the most important part of being a yid is being a mentch, having derech eretz ,emes, and most importantly Yarei shmayim.Teach them that being a mentch and being emesdik doesn’t just apply with interactions with frum people, it applies with the umos haalom as well.

    Teach your child that you have to follow the laws of the middina as long as those laws are not against the Torah.

    Teach your child and explain the concepts of:

    “Hakinna hakavod vehataiva motzin es hadam min haolam”

    “Al taamin beatzmecha ad yom mosecha”

    -The concept of the bigger the Tzaddik the bigger the yetzer hora.

    -Teach your children that once the yetzer hora gets to a person he can bring him down!

    _Tell your child about Doeg Hadomi who was a “Talmid Chochom”- knew all of Torah Kulah but lost his Olam Haba-he had no middos, was moreid bemalchus

    -Teach your child that in order to be a true talmid chochom then one has to have torah,and the middos and the derch eretz!

    Teach your child that one of the main tafkidim of a yid is to Be Mekadesh shem shomayim!

    I would just like to end off with something that my father sid about Rav Moshe Sher Z”TL right before he was niftar where an unfourtunate occurence took place and was printed in all the secular media -my father was at an agudah meeting where Rav Sher ZT”L said” All my life I have worked to be mekadaish Shem Shomayim and now these people went ahead and ruined my whole life’s work”

    Teach your child and the next Dor and everybody from today henceforthe, that it has always been klal yisroel’s mission to be MEKADESH SHEM SHOMAYIM”

  13. >You can say that in an unfortant world and a sad a ecnomy , people do things under pressure which gets them into serious trouble,

    But isn’t that mis-leading and a whitewash? This started in 2007 before the current economic problems.

  14. Actually, I would steer clear from the following ideas:
    Yetzer Harah
    Bad Economy
    Doing Business With Someone Who’s In Trouble
    Don L’Kav Zechus

    You can’t justify or whitewash evil, sin, crime, breaking the law, theft, whatever you want to call it.

    Tell your son: “You’re right, it’s terrible. These men committed a terrible crime, and will be punished accordingly, because the evidence is so great. It’s very important to take the right lessons from people and be careful in all of your business dealings, even when the person or money looks so good.”

  15. I got that question. And I remembered what Reb Chaim Ozer ZT”L told Rebbetzin Kaplan to teach the girls in the USA that is needed for the here and now — that “luxes” the high life is what will bring us down. Here we had an individual who brought us down with his quest to be a billionaire and then brought down others with his money games. Is it worth it, the prada, the labels, the huge mansions, the lexus cars. Teach your children not to need these outrageous things. One money-grubbing, money-hungry person brought disaster to himself, shame to his family — and went out of his way to harm others.

  16. If someone goes to Weight Watchers and cheats on the diet, did Weight Watchers fail? No, the person didn’t follow the protocol.
    The Torah is perfect but if people don’t follow its laws perfectly, the Torah didn’t fail, chas v’sholom- we did.
    We also could be less judgmental, we don’t know the full story and we’re all in this together. If each of us on our own level works hard to be emesdik, it will have a greater effect on the tzibur.
    None of us can change the world, but we can start by changing ourselves and it will have a ripple effect on others.

  17. You can answer that these are specific indivuals and not the oens we want to emulate or look like.
    The Torah is not alien to bad individuals. The dohr hamidbar also did avairos, there was Korach, and the Meraglim and many more. They sought to bring down the bnei yisroel and did not succeed. In fact when the jewsn waged war in K’naan, it was the greed of one individual who took spols for Jericho that caused the downfall of all the jews in the next war.
    Same here! These are the exception and not the norm ( hopefully) .

  18. All of the comments here really hit the issue beautifully. B’Ezras HaShem, I would like to elaborate on the remarks of Mr. Dovid Landesman and Mrs. Rachel R.

    It goes without saying that we cannot allow yeshiva or Beis Yaakov students to abuse or make fun of the secular studies teachers or the secular studies programs in any way or form at all! In those instances where such “jokes” were made and no meaningful discipline was done, we were not creating B’nei Torah, we were creating fiendish monsters!!

    I read a story about a student at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas who cheated on a secular studies test, so Torah Vodaas expelled him. He then went to a different yeshiva, which accepted him. Many years latter when this man was in business, he did some kind of illegal g’navishe deal, was caught, convicted, and put in jail — with, of course, the resulting terrible Chillul HaShem.

    Commenting on the tragic incident, Maran Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, ZT’L, was very mad at that second yeshiva. He explained that if that second yeshiva had, like Torah Vodaas, refused to accept the boy, with no yeshiva to go to, he would have painfully learned the crucial lesson that it is an extremely terrible Aveira to cheat!! And thus he probably would not have latter done the embezzlement and he would not now be sitting in jail!

    Mrs. Rachel R further pointed out that we need to teach (and study and follow) Choshen Mishpat just as seriously as we do Orach Chaim. See the Collected Writings of Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, ZT’L. (The full several volume set can be purchased from Feldheim at http://www.feldheim.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?item=0-87306-786-X&type=store&category=search) In either the first or second volume are the Maamorim about each month of the year; see the chapter on Chodesh Sivan.

    Therein, Rav Hirsch explains that one of the major problems we have with our observance of Torah is that we view Torah — our Judaism — as being a “religion,” like all the other “religions” of the world. In most religions, the activities of the religion are saying prayers, having services at a house of worship called a “temple” or a “church” or a “mosque,” performing certain rituals at those services, having special celebrations on special holidays, etc. But “regular” activities, like working, eating, family life, etc. have nothing to do with “religion.”

    So Rav Hirsch exclaims that such an attitude is totally wrong! Because the Torah is not a religion! Torah is something completely different from from everything else in the world. It is the D’var HaShem that is meant to guide, control, elevate, and sanctify every part and aspect and action and deed of our entire lives!!

    Therefore, the Halachos of monetary chiyuvim in Choshen Mishpat are just as much a part of the Shulchan Aruch — they are just as much the D’var HaShem — as the Halachos of the chiyuvim of saying Sh’moneh Esrei in Orach Chaim! In Judaism, the deeds of a storekeeper refraining from cheating his customers are a full, yes, “religious” activity just as much as when he says a prayer on Yom Kippur!

  19. I take issue with the phrase,Hashem did this,or made it happen.
    The child will grow up with other hashkafa issues if this isn’t clarified.
    Hashem runs the world, but He lets things happens.
    Bederech sherotze adam leileich, molichin oso.
    This must be stressed.

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