I remember sitting in a Shul getting ready to listen to a lecture from Rabbi Shalom Arush, when I overheard a young man talking to his friend. It was before the elections, and he said that whatever the outcome was, it was Hashem who controlled it.
I will admit I was bothered by this, not in as much as believing that Hashem is in control, which of course I do believe… but more in the young man’s laissez-faire attitude… that he could sit back and coast and let things fall out as they may. From all that I am learning, and all that I think I understand, Hashem wants us to be a partner in this world… He wants us to find our purpose… to give our lives meaning… to allow us to act and create and fulfill.
Ironically, or perhaps not, climate change entered into their conversation… and again, the young man said that it was Hashem who controlled this. I refrained from turning around and entering into the fray, but I was troubled. Actually, in retrospect, many things that evening troubled me…but that is a discussion for another time.
There are religious groups who forgo medicine and medical treatments, believing that G-d will take care of things… and if He doesn’t, it is meant to be. This drives me up the wall and makes me absolutely crazy. My reasoning is this… G-d created man…Man and medicine have evolved, along with science and research. Man has made some amazing breakthroughs, and if man is “creating” and “discovering” medicine and cures, how is that NOT FROM G-D???!!!
While not on the same level perhaps, the discussion this young man was having was sort of on that same plane. If I understand Judaism, it’s that Man has Free Will. Hashem created this world for us, in order to learn and grow. He gave us Torah, and Mitzvot and a pretty amazing blueprint and framework. We can do whatever we want, and while, of course, we are encouraged and rewarded for always doing the right thing, we can, if we wanted to, act in horrible ways. And sadly, people do. However, there are consequences for our actions. There are prices to be paid, and while we may not always see justice meted out, we believe that Hashem will be the final judge.
In Judaism we see G-d in one of two ways… and these ways are consistent… and exist at the same time, always: A G-d of Mercy and a G-d of Justice. We know Hashem is Everything and One (Echad), Finite and Infinite… and interestingly, in prayer, the name we use dictates which side of Hashem we are talking to and praying to at that particular moment.
So… there seems to be many issues these days that divide the Jewish community. Government and politics and a specific individual is one… and climate change is another. As Jews, we embrace debate and dialogue, we engage actively in science and understanding, reason and logic. I went into this a great deal in my last post… the basis of Judaism being just this… questioning and digging in as deep as possible. I look at the world daily, and take in all of G-d’s wonders. But I also see the footprint and handprints of Man, in both good and bad ways.
Science tells us that climate change is real. Science tells us that nature patterns change, but that we human beings also add to the mix. So therefore, we can make the right choices… we can honor Hashem by working hard to keep this world safe… to keeping nature pristine… to protecting the environment, so we have something wonderful and beautiful to leave to our children and grandchildren.
While acting is essential to fulfilling our purpose, we are also “judged” on how we react. In the face of tragedy, we have the opportunity, the gift, if you will, to come together as human beings. To take care of each other… to be kind and helpful and generous. We see both sides in Texas as we speak… Greed and price gouging… but more importantly, people helping people. Strangers helping strangers. We see love.
We need to always do the right thing. We need to recognize and celebrate this amazing world that Hashem has given us, to take it all in, to see its Holiness… to honor it and protect it. But we also need to know that we can change it… mankind CAN change it for the better or the worse. There are things we have control over, and things we do not… But working hand in hand with Hashem is why we are here. It is why this world was created. So reach out your hand, help your family, your loved ones, your neighbors. Help a stranger…
Use your hand to lift and guide, to caress and carry… and know that Tikkun Olam is a huge part of who we are, as Jews and human beings. And always know it is not… it is NEVER Man vs. G-d… but Man partnered with G-d… hand-in-hand. And when we need to cast our burden, we do it on Hashem, who will always support us.