The Zionist Conspiracy

A clandestine undertaking on behalf of Israel, the Jets and the Jews.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007
Judaism, Tragedy and God: A Rabbi Without All The Answers

This week's Los Angeles Jewish Journal includes an excellent column about Judaism and tragedy by Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg of Congregation Etz Chaim in Kew Gardens Hills.

For so many years I have heard rabbis and many lay members of the religious Jewish community mumble about "hashgacha pratis," the notion that everything is for the good, etc., that I had essentially given up on hearing anything rational on the topic of how to react to tragedy. Just now, in my office perusing through a few web sites before turning to preparation for trial, I came across Rabbi Rosenberg's piece. He writes, in part:

It's a lot easier to believe in an omnipotent and omniscient God than a
benevolent one. Bad things do happen to good people -- all the time -- and the
believer spends a great deal of spiritual energy putting aside, and keeping
aside, creeping doubts in God's goodness. When I let it, my mind wanders to my
first trip to Israel in 1983, when I was accompanied by my 22-year-old sister,
and seriously dated a former classmate from Ramaz. A dozen years later, both
women would be dead from cancer...

Part of me wonders: Am I blinded by self-interest to take up the cause of
God simply because He is not currently aiming his bow at me? Am I dishonest to
preach belief in a good God, when so many around me are suffering? When I help
comfort a mourner or ease the pain of another human being, am I God's partner as
I preach, and as I dearly want to believe, or am I cleaning up after Him, saving
His creatures from His wrath?...

I don't justify terrible things when they happen to others, and I don't
know why they don't happen to me. But I know that just as surely as there is
inexplicable evil in the world, there is inexplicable good, as well. It's
something to put on the other side of the scale, something to attribute to a
good God.

I don't have time now to offer any detailed thoughts. Thanks to Rabbi Rosenberg for his candid, honest approach - and for recognizing that none of us has the answers to life's most difficult questions.

See prior posts on this topic:

Tragedy, Answers, And Hashgachah Pratis

Rosh Hashanah Sermons: Green Bay Packers and G-d's Role In The World

Judaism and Tragedy Redux

Judaism and Tragedy

9/11 Miracles