Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

January 7, 2005

God and The Wave (2)

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:01 pm

More attempts to make sense of the disaster, this time by Jeff Jacoby and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein. Both of them take issue with Rodger Kamenetz, who wrote an excellent column, but I (and they) think he ultimately came to the wrong conclusion, “There is no God in the disaster. … It is not for the good, it is not for the bad. It just is. It is not a blessing, it is not a curse, it just is. ”

Mr. Jacoby concludes:

Elie Wiesel tells the haunting story of three rabbis in Auschwitz who convened a court of law and put God on trial for allowing his children to be slaughtered. At the end of the trial, which stretched over several days, they pronounced him guilty of crimes against humanity. Then one of the rabbis glanced at the darkening sky. Now, he said, it is time for our evening prayers.

To wrestle with God is not to abandon him. To protest against unearned suffering is not to reject his message — quite the opposite. But having protested a seeming lack of compassion and justice from heaven, we are obliged to reach out to the victims and work even harder to establish justice and compassion on earth.

In response to which Rabbi Adlerstein brings another story:

Jacoby is correct that railing against G-d is better than denying His existence or His nature. This was remarkably illustrated by Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, who told of a poor, old woman on New York’s Lower East Side who tried to eke out a subsistence living by peddling apples in a pushcart. Some neighborhood toughs, one day, had some fun at her expense by upending her cart and spilling its precious cargo through the street. Sitting on the curb pondering what had occurred, she turned Heavenward. “So that’s the way You treat me? You’ll see! This Shabbos I am not going to light candles!”

Rav Miller explained that her response was not perfect. But look at her emunah, her belief. She was absolutely certain that nothing occurred to her that was not dictated by G-d. She had a bit of a disagreement with Him about Her treatment, but her knowledge of His Providence was unshakeable.

In the “don’t think, just do” frame of mind, an Israeli forensic team that is (unfortunately) used to identifying those killed by Palestinian suicide bombers, is now using those skills working round-the-clock in Thailand identifying the dead from The Wave. One hopes — without much confidence — that there will be a halt to the suicide bombing until they get back … and that the halt will continue after they get back.

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