FreePsychArticles#22 OUT OF THE CLEAR BLUE SKY?
Recent events over the last month have shocked the world…again. Innocents were brutally murdered in Borough Park, Norway and Beersheva by different men for different reasons. We are horrified and bewildered. First an eight year old Hasidic boy was killed and mutilated by a single Jewish male living in a building owned by his father and uncle in Brooklyn. Next Norway is shocked by a carefully planned pair of acts of murder and mayheim via home manufactured bombs and firearms. Then, last Friday Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira was stabbed while receiving visitors and subsequently died of his knife wounds on the way to the hospital. Suffice it to say, on the surface all three of these murderers were worlds apart in “purpose, geography, and methodology.” A hardware store clerk in Brooklyn, New York, a young misguided defender of Christian Europe from Oslo, Norway and an Chassidic Jewish misfit living near Beersheba, Israel. And yet, from a common perspective all these acts can be reduced to a common denominator: driven and accomplished Evil. I believe there is no clearer definition of “evil” than the murder of innocents. We’ve all heard, read or somehow witnessed hundreds, if not thousands of atrocious acts like the three above. The stories intrigue us and to varying degrees we suffer from all of them. There is a constant bombardment of fictional accounts of real or imagined escapades of violence and murder in the media. Viewing them is considered “pure entertainment” and has brought about a diminished collective sensitivity. The initial moments of discovery of such real life events produces a stinging effect to all but the most hardened spectators. But the sting is short-lived until it fades away into the realm of the impersonal. Meanwhile those most directly involved in the trauma suffer with descriptions of “shock, disbelief and horror.” In the religious sphere of life there are no meaningless acts. The Chassidic concept of ‘effervescence’ is how G-d’s life force drives and pulsates through everything. Creation and Existence saturated with His Holy Consciousness. When it comes to the unspeakable cruelties of life religious and secular alike must cope in their own ways. For the devout G-d is All Goodness beyond any earthly understanding. In spite of our experience through our senses emunah connects us to G-d’s Creation. This Goodness is fundamental to Everything. How can we speak of Goodness and Evil in the same breath? How can we be repulsed and bewildered while knowing it’s all for the best? The answer is of course, we can’t. Or are we not complex enough beings to contain these extremes? If it was truly beyond our capacity we would have to conclude This G-d wants to torment us. There are many who either dismiss His existence or conclude the latter. Looking at the separate pieces of existence as they parade through our lives can appear a cruel reality. This is where Father Abraham enters the stage of history having seen the Unity of all things. Did he only experience the Bliss of Heaven? There was no shortage of horror in his life. His knowledge endures through his spiritual descendents to this day. But while he survived the tests alone, we have each other and with that we are girded for the challenge. In fact, in spite all the rhetoric, descension and hysteria we already know what we must do. None of these three acts came “out of the clear blue sky.” Freud and his cronies made this all too clear and called it Psychic determinism. Must we be psychiatric giants to see the the precipitants and prodromal behavior? Must we pensively analyze for years to unravel the mystery of our childhood? Our own natural abilities to “see whats in front of us” have become stagnant and submerged. Perhaps because we feel alone and afraid of how evil man can be? But this is a luxury we can no longer afford. I am unable to verify the myriad details these “men” presented prior to the ghastly acts. The specific veracity assumably required in a courtroom is not mandatory in the shared judgement of the real witnesses. Mishnaic Law demands three adequate witnesses and they certainly don’t all need PhDs. Eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky was killed by Levi Aron, 35. However, now it has emerged that one of Aron’s neighbors has accused him of previously trying to kidnap her young son. Neighbor Zisa Berkowitz told the New York Post that she already spoke to the police to report an incident, which took place sometime in the past two years. In another alleged incident, Aron also stalked an 11-year-old boy in Borough Park in Brooklyn. He is said to have been following the young boy in his car, “creeped-out” children and had been seen glaring at school yards. Yet his ex-wife, Debbie Kivel, 34, who lived with him in Tennessee, does point out that Aron had no previous criminal record, save a citation for public urination. Kivel meanwhile told the Post she was “shocked” at his arrest. “He loved children. He loved kids. My kids are now 13 and 10, but when we were married they were younger — and he loved them.” In Norway our brilliant, self-righteous, self-proclaimed reactionary to the Islamization of Europe Anders Breivik published a 1,518 Page Manifesto and explained how he built his bomb. He carefully prepared his heinous acts of bombing and gunning down innocents years in advance certainly not in a vacuum . Regardless of some Norwegian press reports he was an anonymous “lone-wolf,” red flags were flying all over the place. Indications are he had numerous moral and financial supporters who have now headed for cover. Murderer Asher Dahan’s neighbours of the Haredi town El’ad claim that he has been an important community member delivering great Shiurim (sermons). He went to see Rabbi Elazar several times in order to get advice in relationship matters. Neighbours claim that, lately, Dahan started threatening important community members. Also he is said to be mentally disturbed, on medication. (likely he has a compliance problem as well). It has also been pointed out that Asher Dahan is a Ba’al Teshuva (returned to Torah later in life). It said that he tried killing the Rav in the past. By the way, the Charedi media said he believed the Rav was Moshiach ben Yosef and the day before the murder, he davened the Yom Kippur service. When asked why was he praying the YK service while we were in Tammuz, he answered “I need to pray the YK service so that Moshiach ben Yosef won’t die!” In psychiatry psychic determinism is axiomatic. Unfortunately all too often those witnesses closest to the future perpetrator see without seeing. Excuses, explanations and fear fueled by denial cloud judgement. Hence, the first line of defense is compromised. Even Baba Elazar was said to ignore the deadly behaviors of his future assassin with the belief he had repented. We are indeed capable of denial of evil. The problem therefore becomes “our” problem. Our only excuse is our ignorance since seeing the signs just isn’t that difficult. First we must consider anyone is capable of extreme acts until proven otherwise. Then we must clarify a very important question: “Who’s business is it anyway?” There is a saying, “One must believe Hashem Created the world for you.” This baffled me for years until I heard the following interpretation: When one is given something, a gift, he becomes responsible for it’s care. Certainly each of us has been given his own world of experience whether we want it or not. You can’t have it both ways and grown-ups know the more you love, the more you are loved. Greatness comes with owning greatness and accepting evil is a prompt for responsibility. Otherwise we become victims of our own making while we wait for someone else to respond to the evil in our midst. We must try to respond to the signs, talk with each other about the things we fear or fail to understand. Ultimately the outcomes are in G-d’s Hands while our efforts are never in vain. Gershon Freedman, M.D.