Saturday, September 18, 2010
Who am i? פרק ב
It is now 2 hours after Yom Kippur, and I took upon myself this Yom Kippur to fight pedophillia and its supporters with all my power and capabilities, and it is with that in mind that I decided to post something tonight, so I get started with my mission.
Let me tell you guys out there. I will prevail and I will succeed. I will fight until every NAMBLA member and every molester is defeated. Rabbi nuchem has already made an unbelievable impact on this topic and his support is high, but before you know it, it will be “politically correct” to support him in the open.
In this פרק ב Part 2, I will take an overall look on why bad things happen in this world. And why G-d allows those things to happen to poor little innocent kids. And in the final part 3, I will tie it all together on why we must report child abuse – molestation and pedophilia and why these rabbis are so wrong in protecting these evil scums.
I want to concentrate on these Rabbis who throw everything on G-d and don’t have the guts to take a stand on good vs. wrong. They don’t have the guts to speak out when it’s necessary to do so and therefore keep saying “G-d will punish him already” what an absolute copout that line is. If you don’t have the guts to make a call and to take a stand on issues that are “borderline” or not so “popular” in the community, then GET THE HELL OUT! Don’t call yourself a Rabbi and don’t preach other stuff where you only gain! Don’t give a speech on Yom Kippur asking your congregates to repent, when you don’t have the guts to speak about the real issues.
Why are innocent little kids being abused? Where is G-d?
Let me clarify. When I say "Why do bad things happen to good people," this can mean one of two things. If you listen to the question carefully, it's assuming G-d's existence. People say: I know there's a G-d, but I want to understand: Is this G-d good? And if he is good, then why do bad things happen to good people?
Alternatively, the question "Why do bad things happen to good people," “Why are innocent little kids being abused” may really be asking "I'm not sure that G-d exists." That's a completely different question. The question of G-d's existence has nothing to do with the issue of suffering. It has to do with creation, revelation at Sinai, world history, etc. So we should be clear that the question we are dealing with here is not "Does G-d exist?" It's "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
In order for us to be able to "judge G-d", we have to be able to look at what are G-d's "ground rules" for existence. Using this premise, it becomes very difficult to judge G-d. Why? Because we are stuck in a finite perspective of time and space, and we can therefore never be sure which rules G-d is employing at any given moment.
In discussing this issue, I am not going to give an answer as to why particular things happen in a particular situation. Only a prophet can do that and it's been a long time since G-d spoke to me! What we can do is look at general approaches that Judaism offers, to at least get a general sense of what the possibilities are for why things happen.
Here's an analogy: A physicist can tell you why a leaf will fall in a particular place – it has to do with the aerodynamics of the leaf, the force of gravity, and the direction and velocity of the wind. But if you ask that physicist where a certain leaf is going to fall, he is not going to be able to tell you, because he can't precisely quantify the different forces that make a leaf fall in a particular place. He can give you the general principles, but he can't give you a precise analysis of a specific situation.
It's the same idea here. We won't be able to say why specific things are happening in a specific situation, but we will be able to speak about general principles that can lead us to understand the workings of a good G-d.
Choice and consequences is One crucial idea to get us started:
It is written in the Torah" "כי בצלם אלוהים, עשה את האדם - meaning: The human was created in the image of G-d. Obviously the "image of God" is dealing with the non-physical part of us - the soul. Where do we get our drive for morality and meaning, our drive to make a difference? That drive is from the soul which is in the "image of God."But there's more to it than that. Just as God has independent choice, so too does each human being have independent moral choice. The image of God means that we have the ability to choose.
Why is choice the essential issue of what makes us special? Because, if you think about it, life only becomes meaningful because of our ability to choose. For example, the difference in being "programmed to love" and the choice to love, is precisely what makes love significant. Similarly, if I don't have the choice to do good, but am programmed to do good, then there's nothing meaningful about it. Whereas, if I have the ability to do good or evil, then good becomes significant.
But it goes deeper still. For choice to be authentic, there have to be consequences. If every time I get in trouble, dad comes to bail me out, that's not really choice. Choice means consequences. Think about it. All of history – whether in our personal lives or from a global perspective - is based on the decisions that human beings have made - and the consequences that flow from that.
So now we can understand that "image of God" means that God created beings that have the ability to make decisions, and those decisions will create consequences that will make this being a co-partner in the development of the world. This has many ramifications as far as "why bad things happen to good people" and certainly you can start seeing it already.
Now I think we're ready to examine eight ground rules which Judaism spells out for how God interacts with the world.
#1: THE POSSIBILITY OF EVIL
For free choice to operate, it's obvious that evil has to have the possibility of existing. If every time someone chooses to do evil, God is going to interfere, then there's no moral choice. If every time the gun is pointed, the turret points backwards, after a few times you get the message. If you eat pork and get struck by lightning, then you're not "morally choosing," you just see it doesn't work. It simply becomes pragmatic not to do evil.
If the lives of the righteous were obviously perfect, that too would destroy the possibility of choice. Pragmatically, we'd figure it pays more to be righteous because look at the millions of bucks that come my way! That's not choice. That's not becoming God-like.
A world where a human being can create himself into a Moses, also carries the possibility of a person creating himself into a Hitler.
Sometimes God does make a miracle, but it is always in a way that is not obvious, that enables us to retain free choice.
After the Exodus from
when the Egypt split, it was obvious to everyone that God had performed a miracle. Yet the Torah tells us "that a strong east wind blew all night". Why was there a strong wind blowing? Because God had to leave open at least the possibility for someone to say, "No, there was no miracle. It was a fluke of nature and the wind split the sea." Red Sea
In the recent Gulf War, 39 Scud Missiles rained down on
and only one person was killed. What would it take for that to happen? Guaranteed you would have told me it would take a miracle, but it happened and we still have doubt. Israel
In Genesis 15:13, God tells Abraham, "Know that your descendents are going to be enslaved in a land they don't know," which of course ends up being
. So the Jewish philosophers ask: "If God wanted the Jewish people to be enslaved in Egypt , why did he punish the Egyptians?" Tough question! Egypt
Nachmanides explains: "All God said is that they would be enslaved. He said nothing about torture and murder. God only said that he wanted a certain something to happen, but the Egyptians took it beyond that." Now the question is, "Do the Jewish people deserve intervention or not?" Different story.
In Deuteronomy, Moses says that the fate of people depends on our relationship to God. The more we move closer to Him, the more He moves closer to us. The more we move away from him, the more He does the same. The language used is "God hides His face." And when that happens, this leaves us open to the free will decisions of human beings. At times God does not intervene.
We have to appreciate that in the Holocaust, it was not God who built the crematoriums, it was the Nazis. It is not God who is massacring Moslems in
, it is the Serbs. Which of course raises the question: Why isn't God interfering? But do you see the difference between "God doing this" and "why is God not interfering?" Bosnia
King David said, "God, I'd rather have direct punishment from you than to fall into the hands of a human being." Because that's dangerous stuff. Will you merit to have God intervene?
The question of "why do bad things happen to good people" has a lot to do with how we look at existence. The way we usually perceive things is like this: A "good life" means that I make a comfortable living, I enjoy good health, and then I die peacefully at age 80. That's a good life. Anything else is "bad."
In a limited sense, that's true. But if we have a soul and there is such a thing as eternity, then that changes the picture entirely. Eighty years in the face of eternity is not such a big deal.
From Judaism's perspective, our eternal soul is as real as our thumb. This is the world of doing, and the "world to come" is where we experience the eternal reality of whatever we've become. Do you think after being responsible for the torture and deaths of millions of people, that Hitler could really "end it all" by just swallowing some poison? No. Ultimate justice is found in another dimension.
But the concept goes much deeper. From an eternal view, if the ultimate pleasure we're going after is transcendence - the eternal relationship with the Almighty Himself, then who would be luckier: Someone who lives an easy life with little connection to God, or someone who is born handicapped, and despite the challenges, develops a connection with God. Who would be "luckier" in terms of eternal existence? All I'm trying to point out is that the rules of life start to look different from the point of view of eternity, as opposed to just the 70 or 80 years we have on earth.
#4: THE BIG PICTURE
I heard a cute story I'd like to share. There once was a farmer who owned a horse. And one day the horse ran away. All the people in the town came to console him because of the loss. "Oh, I don't know," said the farmer, "maybe it's a bad thing and maybe it's not."
A few days later, the horse returned to the farm accompanied by 20 other horses. (Apparently he had found some wild horses and made friends!) All the townspeople came to congratulate him: "Now you have a stable full of horses!" "Oh, I don't know," said the farmer, "maybe it's a good thing and maybe it's not."
A few days later, the farmer's son was out riding one of the new horses. The horse got wild and threw him off, breaking the son's leg. So all the people in town came to console the farmer because of the accident. "Oh, I don't know," said the farmer, "maybe it's a bad thing and maybe it's not."
A few days later, the government declared war and instituted a draft of all able-bodied young men. They came to the town and carted off hundreds of young men, except for the farmer's son who had a broken leg. "Now I know," said the farmer, "that it was a good thing my horse ran away."
The point of this story is obvious. Life is a series of events, and until we've reached the end of the series, it's hard to know exactly why things are happening. That's one reason the Torah commands us to give respect to every elderly person – because through the course of life experience, they have seen the jigsaw puzzle pieces fall into place.
The Torah itself makes this point very clearly. Jacob is raising the next generation of the Jewish people, bringing to the world the message of Ethical Monotheism. And the key character in that picture is his son Joseph, who is kidnapped by his own brothers and sent down to
. Imagine you would come to Jacob at that point in time and ask him about a good God. What's he going to answer? Egypt
, Joseph became Prime Minister, and when a grave famine hits the entire world, Joseph is a unique position to rescue his family. Egypt
When we look at the whole story in retrospect, everything that happened to Joseph was for the good. It set into motion a chain of events where he ended up saving and building the Jewish people.
It is interesting that one of the weekly Torah portions, "Miketz," ends on a bad note, and is then resolved at the beginning of the following week. Why didn't the Torah simply extend "Miketz" a few verses and have it end good? Because the Troah wants to communicate the lesson that we don't always see the whole picture. Sometimes you have to wait to see how "things turn out good in end."
FOR GROWTH OPPORTUNITY
Sometimes what we perceive as punishment is really an opportunity for growth. In the story of the "Binding of Isaac," the Torah says that "God tested Abraham." The question is: Doesn't God know what Abraham is capable of? So who's the test for? It can't be for God. It must be for Abraham.
What does it mean to be tested? You have potential. Was this test a "punishment" for Abraham? Of course not. It was an opportunity for growth. The Abraham before the test is not the same Abraham after the test.
Imagine a track coach training an athlete in the 110-meter high hurdles. The coach would start with the hurdles low, and then raise them steadily as the athlete progressed. Raising the hurdles is not a punishment; rather it shows the coach's increasing confidence in the athlete's ability.
I hear this following line over and over again: "When this event happened in my life, it seemed so negative; now I understand why it was there and how I grew from it".
Not too long ago, a very dynamic woman I know, almost died. Her heart stopped on the table. She tells me it was the best thing that ever happened to her. "I was in overdrive, running and doing. That event got me to think: What's it all about?" And what this woman has accomplished in the last few years in personal growth is unbelievable. She's convinced that her suffering was integral to the growth process.
In Judaism, we look at life as "I'm here for growth, so how does this situation help me to change and grow?" When God is telling you to sacrifice your only son, can there be any greater punishment? Yet it changed the whole future of the Jewish people. "Tests" can change your future, too.
#6: BORN TO SUFFER
The Talmud (Yoma 35) tells the famous story of the sage Hillel. At the time, the head of the yeshiva wanted to make sure that the people who came to study Torah wanted it for the right reasons, and not for self-aggrandizement. So in order to test people's motivation, he charged money to enter the yeshiva.
Hillel was as poor and impoverished as they come. In the winter, he wanted so much to study that he climbed up to the roof by the skylight, and then became so enraptured with his studies that he didn't realize he'd become frozen in. The next morning it was dark in the study hall. So they looked up and saw a person's body. They brought him down and thawed him out.
The Talmud states: "Hillel obligates the poor." That means that Hillel takes away the excuse that we didn't accomplish what we were supposed to in life due to lack of money. Hillel serves as a beacon that even in poverty, one can still become the greatest of the great (which Hillel was).
Was Hillel punished or was this his reason for being here? The Talmud tells us this was his reason for being here. You don't know why a particular situation might be happening. We each have our own package. Each one of us is put here for a particular purpose. Sometimes "suffering" may actually be the reason we were put here. Maybe this is, so to speak, our glory, our unique contribution.
#7: INDIVIDUAL & COMMUNITY
We are living in a very complex world and in a complex world, God doesn't only deal with individuals, he also deals with nations.
When God decided to destroy
and Gomorra, Abraham complained. He asked God, "If I can find 50 righteous people in Sodom and Gomorra, will you spare the cities?" God said, "No problem, I won't destroy it." Abraham bargained with God until he got down to 10 righteous people and God said, "Okay, if you can find 10 righteous people I won't destroy it." Sodom
Why did Abraham stop at 10? Why didn't he go down to one?
Because Abraham knew if there's a group of people who are righteous, then society might turn around – you can't destroy them. Ten is still a group, under 10 is just individuals. A few righteous individuals is not enough to save
and Gomorra. Sodom
Another question: Now that God decided to destroy it, do these righteous individuals merit to be spared themselves? The answer is that while these individuals were not the catalyst for the disaster, but now that the disaster is going to happen, you need a tremendous amount of merit to be saved from it in a miraculous way. God deals both on a national realm and on an individual realm. And that complicates our understanding of the equation.
#8: THE BENEFITS OF PUNISHMENT
Unfortunately, the way a lot of Jews relate to punishment has been very heavily influenced by Christianity, which is that God is always ready to get me with "fire and brimstone." No offense, but the Jewish idea is much different. God is our merciful Father. He's an infinite being that has no needs. Punishment cannot mean that He's "getting something." And this is the key to understanding the concept of chastisement.
When you think about it, all relationships are based on reward and punishment. When I bring my wife flowers, she smiles. If it's her birthday and I don't bring her flowers, I get punished, either by a burnt dinner, cold shoulder, etc. Relationships that are based on love always play themselves out in terms of reward and punishment. When I do what's right, I receive positive reinforcement, when I do what's wrong I receive "punishment."
What happens if my wife would always react the same regardless of whether or not I bring her flowers? That's the worst possible thing in a relationship - indifference.
Judaism says that punishment exists because God is reacting to the fact that I've done something wrong and He wants me to change. Hopefully I'll hear the message and learn from that. God is not out for revenge. He's doing this for my own good. If He wouldn't react to my negative behavior that would be the worst punishment of all - because that would mean indifference.
This is why King David says גַּם כִּי-אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת, לֹא-אִירָא רָע-- כִּי-אַתָּה עִמָּדִי;
שִׁבְטְךָ וּמִשְׁעַנְתֶּךָ, הֵמָּה יְנַחֲמֻנִי"
Your rod and your staff comfort me." Even though I may get "hit" once in a while, I know it is ultimately for my own good.
In the next (Final) part, I will bring it all together and explain to you how wrong the Rabbis are and how they better get their act together quickly, or they risk of putting the whole “religious way of living in
” is in Jeopardy. America