Tag: G-d

The Holocaust: Who or What Was to ‘Blame’?

 

Whenever the topic of the Holocaust is brought up, you can feel the tension rise in the room. The small Jewish group I facilitate was no exception. In pursuing the topic recently, I learned a great deal, not only about others’ thinking, but about the issues I had been struggling with for years.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the Germans and the war and atrocities they committed; I’m referring specifically to whether G-d was to “blame” for letting the Holocaust take place, or whether the Jews were responsible, at least in part, for their own deaths. As you can imagine, it can be a pretty dicey topic to tackle, but I believe that it was worthwhile.

Almost everyone in our group believed that G-d should have interceded before 6 million Jews and a total of 12 million people died. I was prepared to present a more complex point of view, and I proceeded to lay out my own thinking.

If God Exists, Why Does He Do Such a Lousy Job?

 

When venturing to discuss the nature of G-d, the discussion can get very complicated. And when you add in the component of the dominance of secularism over religion in our times, the conclusions we draw may be all over the map. For that reason, I’ve chosen to discuss briefly many of the expectations that people have of G-d, but I believe there are a few key ones that have driven the secular Left to reject G-d and embrace nihilism. If we are going to have any chance of breaking the hold that secularism has on our society, we have to address not just religion, but the nature of our relationship with God. And we must deal with the deep disillusionment that many on the Left are experiencing, and encourage them to expand their understanding and awareness of G-d.

The OP title suggests that the source of some people rejecting G-d is their disillusionment with Him: what He represents, how He interacts with the world, and His role within the world. But even more devastating for some people is that G-d doesn’t behave the way they think He should: He shouldn’t allow bad things to happen (like hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes, rockslides, and especially the Holocaust). He shouldn’t let bad things happen to people (like disease, heartbreak, car accidents, bankruptcy, and severed relationships). He should act even when his actions could compromise our free will (such as our robbing a bank, stealing from a store, using drugs, and ignoring our obligations. He should make sure that people live satisfied lives (such as being happy, living without poverty, disappointment, or stress).

In other words, if we believe that G-d exists, He should exist to make our lives precisely as we would wish them to be.

We Can Do This

 

When I woke up on Shabbat, I was hesitant to open my eyes fully, dreading the malaise that had been dogging me for days. But I’d already slept in longer than I wanted, and so I pulled myself out of bed and stood up. And I felt, well—almost normal.

After two interminable weeks of feeling so poorly (yes, malaise is the right word but yucky describes it more fully for me), I was so relieved to feel a sense of my former self. It didn’t last long, and throughout the rest of the day, fatigue showed up now and then. Yet I could have breakfast, even a small cup of coffee (!), do my Torah study and reading, have a decent lunch—well it was a very special Sabbath, to say the least.

As I did my meditation that morning, the thought came to me: I can do this. I couldn’t imagine enduring the whole chemotherapy regimen. But I realized that I had probably survived the worst, and there was more “worse” to come. Yet among those days would be good days: days where some of my energy returned, some days when I laughed and cracked jokes, days where I took a walk and breathed in the sunshine, other days when I could truly appreciate G-d’s presence. My friends had tried to reassure me, but I had to know for myself.

The Still Small Voice

 

Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’ He replied, I am moved by the zeal for the Lord, G‑d of Hosts…’ The Lord said to him, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire – a still, small voice. (I Kings 19:9-12)

When we think of powerful winds, many of us think of tornadoes, hurricanes, or other destructive forces. The very strength of these natural phenomena, if we are caught up in them, may bring us to our knees, at least figuratively: we pray that G-d will save us from disasters caused by the violence of these forces.

Letter to a Friend Looking for G-d

 

I have a new friend who, like me, is exploring her Jewish roots and discovering the rewarding and difficult aspects of some Jewish communities and their practices. I wrote this letter to her yesterday to support her on her journey.

Dear Ros,

When the Divine Intervenes

 

Let me say a bit about my relationship with G-d. I’m not a mystic, nor do I have out-of-body experiences. In terms of Orthodox Judaism, I am not a disciplined practitioner. I don’t have “conversations” with G-d, and I don’t formally pray to Him very often. But over the years, I’ve learned—I’ve experienced—that He is present in my life.

In this post, I won’t talk about G-d’s intervention or lack of involvement in the greater world. I don’t have answers for when He does intervene directly, nor do I know why. In fact, I think it is the height of absurdity for us to try to figure out the mind of G-d, except to know what He expects from us. I assume that His actions, motives, and goals are beyond my ken, and I think I have more sensible things to try to learn and understand in this lifetime.

Member Post

 

We pray. Christians pray to the triune G-d.  This post is one in a series on Christian prayer, and how we learn to pray from the Lord’s Prayer.  Today we come to the “petition” where we ask our Heavenly Father for stuff.  We cannot help but be self-centered in wanting stuff, but as we learn […]

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After a three-week delay, I am continuing my series on Christian prayer. Christians pray to G-d, and we learn how to pray from the Bible and from fellow Christians.  Sometimes we even borrow from non-Christian sources.  Our chief source is generally the Lord’s Prayer, because that is where Jesus taught His Disciples to pray.  Here […]

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We are reviewing orthodox Christian teachings on how to pray by examining the Lord’s Prayer.  In this week’s lesson we consider what it means to pray for G-d’s Kingdom to come.      G-d’s kingdom is everything.  He made the universe and everything in it.  He made us and we belong to Him.  So, why […]

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Christians pray. The Bible teaches us to pray, and prayer is discussed in many passages in the Bible. As a continuation of my exploration of the boundaries of Christian orthodoxy, I want to take a look at Christian teachings on prayer. My intent is to find how far we go together in agreement as Christian […]

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This is to summarize my series of posts on the Ten Commandments.  The point of this exercise was to begin an exploration of the boundaries of orthodox Christianity.  So far we have established that all Christians who consider themselves “orthodox” are in agreement about teachings on the Ten Commandments.  That is a lot of agreement.  […]

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Here is a new exploration of the bounds of orthodoxy in Christianity. I have been progressing through the Ten Commandments, at the beginning of a program to delineate the boundaries of what can be called “orthodox” among Christians. So far we are mostly in agreement. This week we will look at another Commandment, this time […]

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Here is a new exploration of the bounds of orthodoxy in Christianity.  I have been progressing through the Ten Commandments, at the beginning of a program to delineate the boundaries of what can be called “orthodox” among Christians.  So far we are mostly in agreement.  This week we will look at another Commandment, this time […]

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