The full title for this was going to be “An Answer To The Anger And The Atheists”… but I did not immediately want to offend. And the fact is, the atheists I know are decent, intelligent and articulate atheists… and interestingly, most of them were born Jewish…
But when an acquaintance posted something on his page about questioning G-d in the wake of the Las Vegas killings, the hate and vitriol spewed throughout the “comments” was horrifying. Instead of directing hate at the monster that carried out the killings and maiming and violence, people viciously directed their anger at G-d and any fool who would believe in Him.
The language was harsh and hateful, but also quite ignorant. They clearly did not know very much about religion, or at least about my religion.
They spoke in clichés and platitudes, and seemed to have no regard that many of those victims and their families were in fact calling on G-d, reaching out to G-d, believing in G-d in order to get them through this most horrific of times.
Judaism teaches us that we NEVER have these discussions when someone is grieving… That we never make statements like this in a house of mourning… That we never utter things like: “It’s for the best”… “G-d has a plan”… “G-d had a reason…”
Who are we to even suppose that, let alone know it?
And THAT is perhaps the hardest part of believing and having faith… having to understand and admit that there will be things we never know… never understand… never get an answer to, at least for now.
Life is about contradictions and opposites. We need hate to more clearly define and see the power of love. We need dark to help us see the light. And though we would all love to have a world without those negatives, we must realize, at least for now, that, that is not THIS world.
Judaism teaches us that mankind has free will. We can do what we want, but hopefully realize that there are consequences for our actions. Most do, but some do not.
Without free will, we would be slaves, robotic, constantly waiting for G-d to do everything for us. What kind of life is that? Certainly not one we would want, and not one G-d created for us.
There are miracles all around us… in every day life and in extraordinary times. We need to see those, recognize those, and explore those. But there are also tragedies, killings, genocides, horrific and horrible things. We may never know why… but it is our job to figure out HOW… how to stop them… how to learn from them… and how to work diligently and tirelessly to make sure they do not happen again.
Are we really doing all we can? If man is causing climate change, why do we blame G-d? If man murders 59 people and injures more than 500, why do we blame G-d?
If man can live in a better way with nature and the environment, but chooses not to, why do we blame G-d? If logical gun laws and regulations can be enacted, and yet they are not, why do we blame G-d?
When people suffer tragedies, it is not our place to mock and question their beliefs… to force our own doubts onto them… to blame their faith for their loss.
Why did 59 people have to die? Why did more than 500 have to be injured? I don’t know. Why did 21,000 survive?
In this time of mourning, pain and suffering, our job is to be there for support… to take care of the family and the loved ones… to bring comfort and food so the family does not have to do any work or think about such everyday and seemingly trivial issues.
It is our job to let people mourn in the way they need to… to give them space and time and whatever else they need to get through… to try to heal… to move forward. No one ever “moves on” but we can all move forward.
We do not have to say a word, but merely offer a hug or a shoulder… and if we feel the need to speak, all we need to say is that we are sorry… and “let his/her memory always be a blessing for you.”
Let THEM tell you what they need… let THEM tell you if they need or want to talk.
Judaism teaches me this. Religion and G-d… my religion and my G-d teach me this. Did you know that? Did you understand that before you mock me, mock G-d, mock religion?
Judaism teaches us to know before whom we stand… whether it is Hashem (G-d) or our children… our parents or a friend… and that MUST dictate HOW we talk and act.
When the world is grieving is NOT the best time to question how they are getting through… their faith… their beliefs.
And if and when the timing is right, do not approach them with anger and ignorance… Have an open, honest, intelligent and thoughtful conversation… and that REQUIRES YOU to be open, honest, intelligent and thoughtful. Don’t go off on what you’ve heard or think you know…
Learn… educate yourself. Listen with your ears, not your position. Judaism and Rabbi Noah Weinberg have taught me that.
There is so much anger in the world. It is worse than I have ever seen it.
Anti-Semitism is all over the world, and right here in our own backyard and on our own college campuses. I hear it and see it and feel it more than I ever have.
Racism is finding itself in the behavior of police, and in the neo-Nazis marching on places like Charlottesville. And yes, in the speech or silence of our politicians. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, you cannot ignore the fact that the President has stoked the flames of hate by the things he says… and the things he does not.
This past election has divided this country more than ever before it seems, with hate and extremism on both sides. While I would never use the phrase “on both sides” to discuss Charlottesville, I WOULD use it to describe the behavior in politics… from DC to our FB friends. Move yourself into the objective middle, and I know you will see what I mean. We all have friends on the right who hate the left and it’s liberal attitudes, in an almost blind and irrational way… and the same for those on the left who blame the right for all the hate and insensitivity.
There IS biased news reporting, and while I would not call a good portion of it fake, it is obvious that some outlets want to break someone down and others want to prop them up.
The days of factual, objective, well-researched and well-informed news seems to be way over… a lost entity, forever given up the speed of the Internet and the desire to be first, not right.
News is opinion… business and entertainment. It is no longer facts and objectivity, but ratings and money.
So why then would you behave in the same way you criticize?
You hate, hate… but HATE G-d… HATE religion… HATE anyone who believes in what you do not. That IS HATE!
And… that is not MY religion. That is NOT ME!
I can only speak to my own beliefs, and I might add, that my knowledge and understanding of Judaism is still being formulated. But I am studying and reading… deciphering and discovering… Are you?
I will also add, for full transparency, that I do question the beliefs of other religions, especially when it denies medicine and a doctor’s help, or promotes violence and hate. And I know there are extremes within Judaism, who offend and behave in ways I do not condone, nor accept. And though I may not agree with others, I do not judge… especially when I see that their beliefs give them morals and ethics… give them kindness and sensitivity.
Religion is a deeply personal thing. And while you may never fully understand why each of us connects to it, that is up to us, and not up to you.
If religion is used to hate and isolate and break apart, then that is wrong.
If it used to give comfort and joy and love and faith… If it used to lift and guide, then that is good.
When a church opens its doors to a Jewish service, and a Rabbi and a Pastor stand on the same stage and say, basically, the same things, that is good. For at its core, at its essence, religion is about love and kindness… loving-kindness… and always doing the right thing… treating others as you want to be treated… knowing that you have free will, but also consequences for your actions.
My Judaism does not deny science, but celebrates it. My Judaism is all about wrestling and questioning and not blindly following. My Judaism gives my life meaning and order, and not chaos, confusion and randomness. That does not mean that I do not question and cry out in confusion and even anger… But it is MY Judaism and it is helping me to find meaning and purpose, connection and commitment, love and light.
This is what Judaism is to me. And I have read The Torah, read the Talmud… I continue to study with Rabbis and teachers… Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. If you want to know what I believe, than ask… do not assume.
And if you want to spew hate, then you have no right to criticize others for being hateful. For that is your misguided and misinformed opinion… and that is YOUR HATE.
Open your minds and open your hearts… for that is the answer to anger and hate… not to be angrier and more hateful than those you are accusing of the same thing.
And if you want to understand religion… understand Judaism… go read it and study it for yourself… Do not just take someone else’s words and ideas and definition of it… Find out for yourself… Objectively pursue knowledge and understanding.
And if it is not for you, fine. But do not mock others, especially those who are not trying to convince you, or convert you… but who simply want to live their lives in the best, kindest and most fulfilling way possible.
My religion teaches me to love and respect others… what does your hate of it teach you?