These are excerpts from an atzeres at the Bnei Torah shul in Har Nof in memory of the four kedoshim .
Two months ago we stood and said, "Unesane Tokef... for this day is awesome and full of dread... upon which Your dominion shall be exalted...
"On Rosh Hashana their destiny is inscribed... who shall be terminated and who shall prevail... who shall perish by suffocation and who by stoning... who shall live and who shall die..."
We don't know what was decreed on Rosh Hashana — "And teshuva, prayer and charity shall cancel the harsh decree," and we do repent, pray and give tzedaka, but apparently, this is not enough.
Hashem gives a guarantee that the power of teshuvoh can annul stern decrees, but apparently, more is needed, so that, "in vain have I smitten your children, they refused to accept Mussar-rebuke." My brothers and friends, come, let us arouse ourselves to teshuva!
Teshuvoh existed even before Creation but Reuven innovated that there is teshuva for an intended mitzvah.
When a person sins, distancing himself from Hashem, he realizes that he must repent. But when a person repents for a deed he believed to be a mitzvah at the time he did it, but Hashem rejected it, this demands a very difficult form of repentance. And this is what Reuven introduced, for he sought to uphold his mother's honor and had pure intentions. He sinned `for the sake of Heaven' and to repent for such an act is difficult indeed. This was Reuven's chiddush: that even if one sins with the purest intentions and is certain he is doing a good deed, but that deed is rejected by Hashem — he is still obligated to repent.
We are guilty of many transgressions: Oshamnu, bogadnu... We must repent for each category of sins. But we must equally repent for all those sins we believed to be mitzvos, like speaking loshon hora `for a valid reason'; for disgracing a talmid chochom - equally for a noble reason; for fomenting dissension - for the sake of Heaven - this was why the novi wept - "Repent, Yisrael... for you have stumbled!"
When we think of loving Hashem, we make all kinds of calculations whether what we are doing is proper or not, and we can't always know if and how to repent. But if we have the fear of Hashem in us, if we dread Gehennom, a person recoils from all this, and this is how one can do teshuva.
We are privy to Divine Providence upon the individual, and we are taken to task for [the myopia of]... "shall a person hide himself and I shall not see?" Especially nowadays, with all the advanced devices, when a person presumes that he is not being watched, he can be led to sins in concealment which lead to suffering and disease, yes, even in hidden places.
We must instill in ourselves and our children that Hashem's eyes perceive everything and sees everything, whether in the open or covertly, and one is taken to task for everything.
The Mashgiach zt"l used to say in the name of HaRav Leib Chasman zt"l that we maintain all kinds of systems to establish the fear of Hashem, while forgetting about the simple fear we should have of Hashem! Yeshaya referred to this when he said, "...because this nation approaches [Me] with its mouth and with its lips it honors Me, but its heart is far from me and its fear of Me is routine [lip service]."
The Malbim explains that a person naturally distances himself from words about yiras Shomayim and thinks that these matters are too exalted, but even when we speak about simple yirah, fear, , he is reluctant to listen. Even this form of plain yirah has become routine, habitual and automatic.
When one wishes to fight against Yishmoel, we should remember that our approach to battle is only through concealed yiras Shomayim, prayer bekavanah. This is the only way to nullify the klipa of Yishmoel, with my `sword' and my `arrow'.
How vital it is to reinforce ourselves with G-d-fear, and if we truly wish to do so — it is through, "How goodly are your tents, Yaakov, your dwellings Yisrael." In this holy center, blood was shed like water through such aberrant atrocity! In this holy place, the klipah of Yishmoel set foot!
It is certain that those martyrs were from the tzaddikim of the congregation, our veritable communal sacrifices. We must scream: We have sinned! Let us strengthen ourselves!
Perhaps we are meant to learn to resist the influence of the outside world, not to let ourselves be contaminated by the contagion of the street. The superficiality, slang, indifference, casualness, dangerous devices... We must seal ourselves off from the penetration of external pollution. We cannot begin to measure how much we are actually influenced from the outside without our realizing or sensing it! How goodly are your tents, Yaakov - preserve them from the ill winds of the Outside!
They tell a true story about a shidduch between two Admorim, one from Ostrovtza and the other, an Admor from the Ruzhin dynasty. Before the chuppah, the grandson of the Ruzhiner said to the Ostrovtzer, "We have a custom of reciting our noble ancestry before going to the chuppah. What is your yichus?"
The Ostrovtzer replied [in Yiddish], "If you want your bagels to come out good, close the oven door tightly lest the wind penetrate, and make sure that it be warm inside. That will assure you a good product..."
And that is what we must do, to seal up our windows and prevent outside alien penetration, to make sure that our yiras Shomayim is burning inside, to assure warmth, love, joy inside the beis medrash. In this manner we will hopefully produce goodly fruit. May Hashem help the saintly families of the deceased and those of the injured, and wipe the tears from their faces. May it be His will that "You show us Your compassion and send us Your salvation," through perfect repentance and a speedy geula, in our days, Amen!
(Transcribed by one of the participants)