What Happened In Vegas Did Not Stay in Vegas

What happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. Its pulsating shock waves raced out across the country, whiplashing into every American heart. The very thought of that merciless rain of hot lead thudding into the flesh of unknowing innocents just elicits sad gasps of incredulous agony.

It only took a few hours for the predictable flood of media and political responses. Many were the standard clichés mentioning prayers, thoughts, shock and horror. Others sought explanations for this massacre or explored the means to prevent similar events from ever happening again.

We human beings are created with both head and heart. This means we should always respond to circumstances both intellectually and emotionally, but never both at the same time and never confusing head and heart.

Allow me to offer an example or two: If I need a surgeon, I want a doctor to whom I relate and who relates to me. When we discuss my surgery, I want him to know of my physical and emotional state and I want him to know of my parents and of my children. I want a surgeon with heart. However, once I am on the table in the operating room, I don’t want him thinking of anything but the technical medical and anatomical problems beneath his skilled fingers. I want him to be all head. Yes, I do want both head and heart, but at different times. When I sit in his consulting room anxiously discussing my prognosis, I don’t want to hear just dispassionate clinical analysis; I need some warm sign of his caring. During the operation, I don’t want him distracted by any emotional considerations.

Similarly, any wise young woman contemplating marriage to a man should engage in both a head and a heart analysis. Is he someone stable, upright and responsible? But also, is she romantically attracted to him? Again, confusing these two important but separate analyses will cause possibly tragic error. If she dismisses concerns about his moral and financial habits because she can’t take her eyes off his pleasing looks, she’d be heading for trouble. If she feels physically revolted by his repugnant hygiene but finds herself drawn to the secure and moral atmosphere he radiates, she’d probably be making a serious marital mistake.

It is entirely proper that our first response upon hearing of the Vegas massacre should be via our hearts. We empathize with the pain of those who lost loved ones and those whose lives were forever changed during those hours of horror. We feel the hurt. We feel the fear. We feel burning hot anger towards the horrible human who caused all this suffering. We feel bewilderment at how it could have happened. And if we didn’t experience all these feelings and if we failed to feel for those who were there, we’d be monsters.

But if we analyze the event and propose public policy solutions whilst yet in the grip of those feelings we’d be fools.

I hope these words spark a dialogue. Please note that comments may not be posted or answered quickly as our office and store will be closed from sunset Wednesday night PT through Saturday evening in observance of the opening days of Sukkot.

13 thoughts on “What Happened In Vegas Did Not Stay in Vegas”

  1. I listen to you in the morning before another podcast, Some see it and have asked are You Jewish, I am not but Catholic, but everrry on needs a Rabbi. I truly enjoy You and Susan’s info. I do believe right now is the time for heart and after we know what really happen, then is the time for talking. I read Susan’s post an Right now I agree and will not change my mind but it will be a good thing for all of us to have a honest discussion.

  2. Thank you for the post, my friend. Your post, as well as Susan’s Musings today, are spot on in a turbulent world. Best Don

  3. Rocky Knickerbockers

    Your Heart and Mind, as always, is spot on. Thanks for all your thoughts and insight.

  4. Sadly Rabbi Lapin when it comes to Gun Control those who are for it almost never use their head but always their heart to advocate for their position. They refuse to recognize the lws already on the books are apparent ineffective when it comes to a determined murderer or other criminal using a gun. There is vast knowledge about what works and what doesn’t work with gun control. In fact the very term “gun control” is a misnomer. We need to somehow control those who would do such crimes. The gun is a mere tool that mostly is used for good in protecting the innocent from criminals across the land.

  5. Thank you for stating this idea so clearly. If only more people would realize that after such a time of tragedy there must first be time to deal with emotions, and then to pause and reflect logically about what, if any, action should be taken.

  6. But if we analyze the event and propose public policy solutions whilst yet in the grip of those feelings we’d be fools.

    That line in your message was worth the read! Thank you Rabbi

  7. Rabbi, per usual your words are so well seasoned with the wisdom that flows from God!

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