When the Messiah comes and the world ends, the shofar will sound loud from the site of the Temple, and those people buried at the Mount of Olives - outside the old Jerusalem walls - will be first to awaken and arise in paradise. Those people buried elsewhere on the planet, tradition says, will "roll through the earth" till they come up there. Consequently many people have asked their survivors to bury them at the Mount of Olives, saving themselves and abrasive trip. An Antwerp Hasid explained to appreciative writer Robert Eisenberg recently, "A burial in Israel avoids the shleppernish."
Every year, sixty million people die; of these, half are children under five. Every 110 hours a million more humans arrive on the planet than die into the planet. Of every seventy-five babies born today in the United States, one will die in a car crash.
What were you doing on April 30, 1991, when a series of waves drowned 138,000 people? Where were you when you first heard the astounding, heartbreaking news? Who told you? What, seriatim, were your sensations? Who did you tell? Did your anguish last days or weeks?
It only took a few typhoon waves to drown 138,000 Bangladeshi on April 30, 1991. We see generations of waves rise from the sea that made them, billions of individuals at a time; we see them dwindle and vanish back. What will move you to pity?
Not for one minute do I want to minimize the sacrifice that so many young men and women have made for the sake of their country. Nonetheless, it is amazing to me how little we really care (myself included), when others die in tragedies around the world. Who of us even remember that 138,000 died in Bangladesh in 1991; let alone cared the least little bit? Who cares that 750,000 died in Tangshan province in China during an earthquake in 1976?
We mourn the loss of 1657 American soldiers who have given their lives for their country in Iraq and Afghanistan but do we care - even a little bit - about the twenty thousand plus Iraqi civilians who have died?
Why? What will move you (AND ME) to pity?