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Op-Ed: Their Legacy; Our Destiny

by Rabbi Pinchas Allouche – Shliach in Scottsdale, AZ
Reflections on the recent terrorist attack at Mumbai’s Chabad House

The World Standing Still

For forty six hours, the world stood still. Multitudes of hearts were shattered, countless tears were shed and immeasurable words of Psalms were recited as myriads of anxious Jews around the world tuned in to the evolving events with a profound belief that salvation will imminently sprout from this inconceivable calamity. And yet, after almost two days, the horrific, heart-wrenching news emerged about the Chabad emissaries, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holzberg, fracturing our last remnants of hope. Indeed, “The secret things belong to G-d” . This tragedy is beyond the capacity of our intellect, afar from the human mind.

Nevertheless, its impact remains deep. Jews worldwide were uniquely captivated by it. Anguish and concern conquered Jewish homes and centers around the globe. Wherever one walked, whomever one met, this tragedy rapidly, captured the center stage of our conscious, and swiftly dominated many conversations. But why was this tragedy so perturbing? Which of its component led us to be particularly disturbed by it?

Extraordinary Role Models

Rabbi Gavriel Holzberg, and his wife Rivkah, were extraordinary role models. Their personal lives revealed untold sufferings that few could withstand. Their eldest son died at the tender age of three. One of their two remaining children remained in Israel in the home of his grandparents, for his grave illness could not be attended to appropriately in the city of Mumbai, India, where his parents lived. Their Jewish, Rabbinic lives defied convention. With exceptional self sacrifice, they left the comfort of their homes and cultures to become Chabad emissaries, and selflessly devote themselves to the mission of the Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed memory to assist every Jew materially and spiritually, in a place stricken by poverty and idolatry.


Yet our excessive attention was drawn to their exemplary lives, not only because of the Holzbergs’ supreme righteousness and uncompromising dedication to our people. Another magnetizing component may have awakened our curiosity and care for the Holzbergs. Perhaps it can be categorized as: “self-reflection”.

When we saw Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holzberg, we saw ourselves in them. They were there, in the realms of the unknown to sound our voice, to carry our torch, to share our common ideals to the world with a demeanor that we clandestinely envy and a comportment that we secretly dream to emulate. Google their names, and you will find your subconscious resumé. Explore their journey, and you will hear the inner calling of your soul.

Indeed, every human being, possessive of a ‘G-dly image’, also yearns to increase goodness and divinity in this world. It is no coincidence that songwriters, scriptwriters and poets are finally translating into words the Jewish principle of “Tikun Olam – rectifying the world” , which Rabbi Holzberg and his wife remarkably personified. And it is this self-reflection that enthralled us all in a whirlwind of admiration, veneration and appreciation toward their immortal example and the everlasting legacy that they have now left for us all.

A Lesson That Ought To Be Learned

As we mourn their untimely and incomprehensible deaths, it is high time for each of us, to continue their work, with renewed vigor and conviction. There could not be a sweeter revenge for the barbaric terrorists, ym”sh, who murdered them so cold bloodedly. They were there for us, at the front lines of our war for Jewish survival, during the darkest hours at the darkest places. It is now time for us to be there for them. We ought to continue the mission for which they sacrificed themselves for; to perpetuate Judaism in our lives and in the lives of every Jew that we encounter.

Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holzberg, following the footsteps of our historic leaders, voiced the tone of our heritage. We must now transform it into an everlasting melody. Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holzberg ignited a beaming spark of Judaism during their lives, and even more so, during their death. It is our obligation to shine it and enhance its flame toward the four corners of planet Earth. Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holzberg, along with the giants of our generation, paved the way to our Jewish future. We are now compelled to persuade ourselves and our surroundings to follow it with unconditional devotion until the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “For G-d shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of G-d; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”

Their legacy must now become our destiny.

This Op-Ed reflects the views of its author. It does not necessarily reflect the views of nor of its Editors.

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  • 1. Family friend wrote:

    AMAZING AMAZING!!! This is truly how most of klal yisroel are feeling!
    As always, Pinchus an amazing writer!

  • 3. Allen A. wrote:

    Very touching article, well articulated and to the point. Thank you for your comforting words. Indeed, it reinvigorates us – we should follow in their footsteps.

  • 4. speachless wrote:

    wow.this article was the best thing i’ve read in a long while.rabbi pinchas allouche,thank you so much. this was a tremendous comfort.

  • 5. Awareness wrote:

    I agree with all that was written- However, did u look at the lives of the other victims? People involved in kashrus work with familes…How about mentioning them? They were all doing Gd’s work. Lets keep that in mind.

  • 6. a fellow HURT jew wrote:

    i am really sad
    hashem its enough we need moshiach now !!!!!!!!!!!!!! AMEN

  • 7. yocheved wrote:

    Hopefully stories of their shlichus will emerge and will be published on a website or in a book to continue to inspire others.

  • 10. Judith wrote:

    I am moved by the example of their lives and would like to be more like them.


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