Tuesday, June 27, 2006

God's role in tragedies

אני מאמין באמונה שלמה שהבורא יתברך שמו הוא בורא ומנהיג לכל-הברואים והוא לבדו עשה ועושה ויעשה לכל-המעשים.
I believe with complete faith that the Creator—blessed be His name—creates and directs all creatures; and that He alone made, [now] makes, and will [always] make all the works.

The first of the 13 declarations of Jewish faith is that God is running the show. People continuosly question "where was God" when certain events happen or they blame individuals or political philosophies for tragedies that happen on a national/global level. People think that God gives us freedom of choice so we can screw things up on our own. Therefore, if we vote Sharon into power and he decides that he is going to go against everything he has ever campaigned for, then obviously he is using his freedom of choice to screw up the entire country.

During the tsunami/hurricane/... you would think that people would finally say this is the hand of God, a completely natural act of destruction. Nope. The same people who blame politicians and people for events on a global/national level either don't understand how God could let this happen or say it is a completely natural event and has no spiritual connotations.

I'll tell you where God was during the expulsion from Gaza - with tears in his eyes, he kicked them out with his own foot.
I'll tell you where God was during Hurricane Katrina - He was standing there blowing real hard.
I'll tell you where God was during the tsunami - He was spitting at the people who lived in the area.
And to go one step further (into the forbidden zone) God himself lit the fire in the crematorium and sprayed Zyklon gas on the Jews during the Holocaust.

Do you know why? Neither do I.

In the Torah when tragedies happened, it is made fairly obvious what the reason for the destruction is.
In parshas Nitzavim it clearly states natural desasters come from God for a very specific reason:
גפרית ומלח, שריפה כל ארצה - לא תיזרע ולא תצמיח, ולא יעלה בה כל עשב: כמהפכת סדום ועמורה, אדמה וצבויים, אשר הפך ה' באפו ובחמתו. ואמרו כל הגויים: 'על מה עשה ה' ככה לארץ הזאת?; מה חורי האף הגדול הזה?'. ואמרו 'על אשר עזבו את ברית ה' אלוהי אבותם, אשר כרת עימם בהוציאו אותם מארץ מצרים.
Because the Jews did not follow the covenant of God, who took us out of Egypt.
We see the Torah full of stories that describe what happens when Jews are bad: After the sin of the golden calf, a good portion were wiped out. After the spies, they had to dig their own graves and sleep in them at night because there were good odds that they wouldn't wake up. After Korach, aside from the ground opening up and swallowing them, there was another plague where people started dying until Aharon the kohen gadol burnt ketores in the camp of the people.

Jewish tradition is that the first Bais Hamikdash, the jewish temple, was destroyed because the Jews regularly performed the 3 big sins. It wasn't because the king wasn't strong enough and didn't have a good army. Does anybody remember the story of Micah who took the idol and caused the Jews to lose lives for the first time in a war?
The second temple was destroyed because people hated one another for no good reason, not because the politicians didn't live up to their promises.
It would seem utterly foolish of Pharoah not to let the Jews go, when his country was being destroyed. But God had other plans and hardened Pharoah's heart.

There are the good times as well. In the days of Purim the people returned to God, and the planned holocaust didn't happen. In the days of chanukah, the people returned to God and the enemies were chased out of our country.

That doesn't mean we should just give up. We have to do our part by voting for the right people and protesting decisions that we feel are bad the jewish people. That doesn't always work like we saw after voting for Sharon.
However, the most important thing we have to work on is ourselves. Find out what God wants from us and start doing it. Until that happens, the political and security situation is going to continue getting worse. The biggest problem that we have to overcome in our generation is that people don't really believe in God. Return to the first of the declarations of faith and the path will becaome a lot clearer.

Where does freedom of choice start and divine providence end? That is another post, another day, probably not in the near future.


Rafi G. said...

very well said

Anonymous said...

Very moving post. However, I do not believe God lit the fire in the crematorium. I think it was more like he just didnt do anything about it, even though He could have.

rockofgalilee said...

Then you don't understand the relationship between God and his people.
Things do not happen on a national level without direct participation of God. On the individual level there is an argument whether anything that happens to a Jew includes hashgacha pratis, but everyone agrees that on a national level, God is very involved.

the sabra said...

(followed up from ur comment on jameels blog)

im happy you write this, that you too recognize that everything going on is DIRECTLY from hashem.

impossible to blame one or another. it is everyones fault equally. what does it say about whoever doesnt see the beit hamikdosh in his lifetime, it is as if he has personally destroyed it? is it not in the hands of you and i to bring an end to this golus?

so im talking with my friends and were frustrated beyond belief at all the tragedies goin on and then we say 'gosh it really is the times before moshiach..all this irrational and abnormal terror, death, sickness...all the signs of moshiach...soon well see how it was really for the best..'

and then we say 'no. this isnt just the times BEFORE moshiach. these ARE the times of the final geula. it is PART of the process and it is up to us to hasten it.'

final line?

view the world as an equal balance of good and evil. your next move will tip the scale. which way do you want it to go?

Anonymous said...

Yasher Cochaca for providing the proper perspective for this whole affair.

This situation is similar to Purim in that the enemy doesn't want us to convert. He, yimach shmo, just wants to destroy us, Rachmana litzlan. The proper response is teshuva.