About ten years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Russia to teach Judaism to Jewish university students from around the FSU in a two-week winter camp program. Shortly after I left Moscow, there were a string of terror attacks in the train system which killed massed of people. Another time long ago, I spent a summer advancing my Spanish in a small town in Spain. Every weekend before shabbat, I would get on the Cercanías train from Alcalá de Henares en route to Madrid for shabbat. A few months after returning to New York, a series of coordinated bombs went off in the train system killing about 191 people.
My point of this is actually not to avoid the train system. No, no.
The lesson I've learned from not being involved these occurrences is that you can plan all you want; when G-d wants you, He takes you.
What happened today at the Jewish school in Toulousse makes me extremely distraught for many reasons. I simply cannot comprehend where the justice lays for a young man who left Jerusalem, a former hotbed of terror activity, to teach Judaism to schoolchildren in the 'enlightened', civil, democratic country of France, only to meet his fate by a bullet as he walked his own two sons into their classroom.
The evil that the savage barbarian took out on innocent people (schoolchildren!) is just mind-boggling. Regardless of whether this was an act of blatant anti-semitism, for whatever reason, as this heartless criminal was driving down the road, he decided to open fire on a Jewish school during its opening hours.
I am usually not one to start cheerleading for everyone to make aliyah. And let's face it, it's not like good, ol' Eretz Yisrael is the safest place in the world, but we need to protect ourselves. Period. Educators/principals: make sure you have top security at your schools. Everyone: Don't cross the street unless you have a green indicator, stay alert while using public transportation, don't open your front door to strangers, and the list goes on.
But at the end of the day, when G-d wants you, He takes you. No matter where in the world you are.
The lesson I take away from the events of today is to stay alert at all times, do an act or two of kindness today -- everyday-- and live life to the fullest.
There are no words to explain why this happened to the Ozar HaTorah school or to the Sandler family, but hopefully, they will find comfort knowing that the Jewish people, the French nation and the civilized world is thinking of them, sharing in their pain (as the Hebrew saying says). May we pray that humanity moves forward to be a bit more civilized.