We are living in difficult times. We are reminded of this daily. Watching the nightly news has its perils and traps, and is literally hurting my brain.
I have never felt as confused and at odds with the world or with so many friends as I have as of late. We just seem so far away… so far off and apart from each other. Logic seems to have gone the wayside.
I will say or post something that seems heartfelt and neutral, and the comments quickly become political and divided. Friends will viciously attack each other. The divide seems unconquerable.
Society seems to be more ignorant than ever before. Morals and ethics seem to be subcontracted out, or in many cases no longer even present. And yet, without morality and ethics, what do we have? Who are we? (As always I refer you to the brilliant video from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. A MUST WATCH FOR ALL OF US!!!)
As I study Judaism, the baseline is abundantly clear. The Torah, Kabbalah, Pirkei Avos… Aish, Chabad… wherever… the goal is to live a fulfilled, moral and ethical life… To live a life of purpose. To behave like a Mensch (or Menschette) and to always do the right thing.
So how and where along the line did we get so lost? I contend, for this post, that it happens when we lose hope and faith.
The other night I had the opportunity to see Rabbi Shalom Seidenfeld give his talk on “How G-d Survived Auschwitz: Faith After The Holocaust.” It was my second time hearing/seeing it, but I will say that this latest incarnation is even more focused and powerful. I did not say I had the “pleasure” of seeing it, because it is a deeply moving, confusing and gut wrenching subject… but in the end, I think we all left enlightened, uplifted and with more FAITH than when we came in.
He talks about how it makes logical sense that people could walk away from Judaism after the Holocaust and all the horrible things they witnessed first hand. But in what is perhaps his most powerful point, he explains that the reason we are all here… sitting in a Shul… and Jewish… is because someone who came before us either did NOT walk away… or if they did, someone AFTER them CAME BACK.
The Holocaust is such a difficult subject to discuss… because it questions and challenges almost everything. It is the reason for many people doubting that G-d exists.
But I would also contend that the hope… the faith and belief in G-d actually SAVED lives in the Holocaust. For without that… without G-d, many more would have given up and perished.
Shlomo tells the story of a man who lost his son… a modern story… not during the war. The man’s friend says to him, “How can you still love G-d? What kind of G-d would do this? You should turn your back and walk away!”
The man looks at him and says, “I just lost my son. Now you want to take away my G-d, too?”
Faith in Judaism is not blind. It is studied and articulated… debated and delved into. And yes, there is a large part of it that forces us to embrace the unknown… to be okay with the unknown… to be able to say that there are things beyond our control and understanding and I am okay with that… I am good with that… because I have faith in Hashem and a higher power. I know that there is much more than just me.
The greatest example of this is the story of when Moses asks to see G-d’s face. G-d tells him he could not do that and survive, but that he will cover Moses’ eyes and once He moves past him, He will allow Moses to see His back.
The most common explanation is that we too often cannot see things when we are in the midst of them… but our understanding, our knowledge, our meaning will, in fact, come after the event.
Not in this lecture, but Shlomo also talks about G-d’s answers to our prayers. He says there only three answers…
Yes, Not Yet… and I Have Something Better.
Faith. Faith that G-d knows much more than we do, and even in the face of tragedy, is looking out for us.
I am also just wrapping up the Deepak/Oprah 21-Day Meditation Challenge, entitled “Hope In Uncertain Times.”
One of the lessons they teach is that “If you hold a grudge, that grudge is also holding you.”
It’s hard to move forward with that weight tying us down. And we can say this about anything… If we hold onto anger, it holds onto us. If we hold onto fear, it holds onto us.
So… let us hold onto faith, because then faith will hold onto us.
“Cast your burden upon Hashem, and He will support you.”
WE GOTTA HAVE FAITH!
Well put, Marc. Kol hakavod.