In a live video on Facebook, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch addressed the tragedy that unfolded Sunday at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Here is a transcript of his remarks.
I’m sorry that I have to appear again so soon after the New York tragedy to share our thoughts and prayers with you about the tragedy that happened in Texas. So many beautiful people were killed worshipping God, including very small children and elderly adults.
I simply want to express on our collective behalf, on behalf of the Jewish community and American society, our deep distress and profound sorrow. We hope and pray for the complete and speedy recovery of those who are wounded and we pray for comfort and healing for those who are mourning.
The fact that there were so many young people who were killed reminds me of a very poignant passage in Jewish tradition. When Cain kills Abel, God turns to Cain and says ‘the blood of your brother cries out to me from the ground.’ And the sages noticed that the word for blood in Hebrew, dam (דָּם ), was stated in the plural, kol damach achícha (קוֹל דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ). ‘The bloods of your brother rise up to me from the ground.’ And the sages asked why is the word blood in plural, and they responded because when you murder somebody it’s not only the person himself or herself that you murder, it’s also all of the future generations that should have been born from that person that are never going to see the light of day. What the sages wanted to communicate is how horrific and dreadful is this tragedy of murder, taking a life of another person, that redounds for generations and prevents the lives of those who should have been born.
The second point that I would like to make is we have to have a national reckoning in this country on why these events occur so frequently and so violently. We do have to have a discussion, an honest discussion, to look into our souls straight in the mirror and ask ourselves whether it has anything to do with the easy and widespread availability of firearms. We hope that we’ll be able to organize some of these discussions here in our synagogue in the weeks and months ahead.
I wish all of you days of peace, and collectively, we pray for the souls of the departed.