Hillel at Virginia Tech Executive Director Sue Kurtz delivered the following address to a campus convocation broadcast to millions around the globe. Engineering graduate student Anat Elazari read the original Hebrew text of the passage from Kohelet to the audience. A video of the complete convocation is available online at the Virginia Tech Web site.
At this time of great tragedy we are left with more questions than answers. For thousands of years, our traditions have looked upon good and evil, life and death with a sense of awe.
In the Bible, the writer Kohelet, known in English as Ecclesiastes, surveyed the world and found comfort in the mystery of the Divine plan. He wrote:
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Let us draw strength from one another to move from a time of violence and sorrow to a time of healing and peace. Let us carry the memories of our friends and teachers with us always so that, in the words of Jewish tradition, Yehi zichronam tzadikim lebracha, may the memory of the righteous be a blessing.