Finding biblical irony in the Pittsburgh massacre
I find it deeply and horribly ironic that before the Pittsburgh shooter went on his rampage he wrote “screw your optics, I’m going in,” by which no doubt he meant political or social implications.
The synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh occurred on the Sabbath Torah portion reading of Vayireh – “and He appeared.” This parsha has numerous images of “appearance” or “vision” (optics), including the appearance of three angels to Abraham and the scrutinizing of S’dom before and after its destruction. Towards the end, the famous story of the Akeidah – the binding of Isaac – occurs which has several images of vision or its cognate root (including to ‘fear’ God) throughout. Indeed, Abraham names the mountain on which this happened ‘Hashem yireh’ – God will be seen. One more point of irony. When Abraham and Isaac arrived at the place, the word used is vayavou – “and they came” (22:9) – the root word also meaning ‘to go or come’.
That such a vile thing was perpetrated on the holy Sabbath, in a holy place of worship coinciding with the reading of Abraham’s most poignant test of faith, and by a monster who, unawares, connects his own acts this way, is bitterly ironic.