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    Henric C. Jensen
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Why Me and not Him?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 4, 2007


“God Got Me Out

I was reading about a Jewish guy who was caught up in the collapsing bridge but escaped with his life. He says that God saved him. Now the sentiment is nice, he’s giving God credit for his life, but what about the people who didn’t escape? Where was God for them and their families? Was his life more valuable than the life of a 20 month old little girl and her young mother?”[…]”Bad things do happen to people all the time, however. It’s the luck of the draw. We give thanks for life because life is a gift, but I’m not going to claim God makes sure I stay alive every day”

I am going to go out on a limb here be so arrogant that I offer a solution to the problem of mindless suffering and death – one that includes G-d’s compassion in a rather cynical way.

How about this idea: Perhaps people die before their time because their “life-line” leads to a place that would be far worse, perhaps involving other “third parties”? What if the child, in the above quote, in the future would have become a mad scientist and released some deadly virus that we have no cure for that would cause the death of countless of people, perhaps the very person who is to invent that cure? Or people die “untimely” because their death will eventually lead to many others being saved?

Ultimately G-d is in charge – and while He doesn’t necessarily intercept directly with us on a personal level, as suggested by the Jewish Guy in the quote above, He is monitoring our “life-lines”, because our “life-lines” interact with the entire Creation over which He is the Master. That doesn’t mean that G-d actively goes in and saves or kills people in situations like natural disasters, but He allows it, because He sees the bigger picture.

A couple of days ago I watched a Documentary on National Geographic about an awful Airplane accident. The moral that could be derived from that story was: Because a certain young man was killed in that accident, his parents became obssessed with finding the cause of the accident, and eventually a serious flaw in the electrical system driving the cargo doors on ALL airplanes of the same type and age was discovered and many, many lives could be saved, when Boeing was forced to amend the flaw.

This idea may be totally off – and it’s not at all like this – but I like it, that is how I handle all the “meaningless suffering and killing” in the world.


6 Responses to “Why Me and not Him?”

  1. goodhart said

    Dov, you wrote: What if the child, in the above quote, in the future would have become a mad scientist and released some deadly virus that we have no cure for that would cause the death of countless of people, perhaps the very person who is to invent that cure?

    To me, this does not solve the problem, but simply removes it one step backwards. Here is what I mean: one could argue, “then why was Hitler allowed to live ? Or the inventors of the H-Bomb ? We can now destroy the world 7-12 times over. I think it is “close” to the answer though, so I am not totally disagreeing with you πŸ™‚

    Certain types of suffering are necessary in life, some brings strength, some death. Some die with mercy, some to prevent too much needless suffering, as you also wrote, G-d is in control, and so the wisdom we seek from our perspective will not match His. We are on “the wrong side of the telescope” so to speak (take a gander into the wrong end of a telescope if you don’t know what I mean).


  2. I’ll get back to you on this, Mike πŸ™‚ as usual you raise interesting “issues”…:-)


  3. Yael said

    I’ve heard others who hold to the same view about meaningless suffering in the world as you put forth, which could well be right for all I know. At one time I might have held something similar to that view, it’s hard to say, but it just doesn’t work for me anymore.

    I can see lots of little things in life, like how my great-grandmother’s Rosh Hashanah plates got to be in my possession, among all her descendants, after two generations of Christianity, without me knowing anything about her or these plates until after I converted to Judaism. How did that happen? Isn’t that almost like a miracle? Yet, why would something so simple as plates be taken care of so that they would again become the possession of a Jew, the only Jew in the family anymore, while horrible things happen all around? Who needs a God who will watch over plates, but miss the abused kid down the street?

    That’s my problem with the God in control thing. It doesn’t make any sense to me. So, I have to view it as pure luck of the draw. Otherwise it seems to me God has some really messed up priorities! Just my thoughts.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate reading your thoughts on my post.


  4. Yael,

    We all have to find the solutions that work for us πŸ™‚ I have no problem respecting your view and understanding it.

    It doesn’t make sense. You are right about that. And where you have no problem with it not making sense other than “the luck of the draw”, my faith is not as solid as yours – if you like, I need to G-d to be in control in this world, while you are satisfied with accepting luck as a part of the pattern (if there is a pattern), I can’t accept that. But it’s ok. For both of us. After all, all is merely a matter of belief, and doesn’t really have any impact on anything. We still have to do our best to change that which is right in front of us that is wrong, such as child abuse, hatred etc.

    And I think this in a way is my reply to Mike – in a sense my above “explanation” only covers what we would call “natural disasters” – it doesn’t cover that which involves human free will.

    It is possible to, largely anyway, put suffering and death in two categories:

    1. “Natural causes”, such as earth-quakes, tsunamis, plane crashes, diseases and illnesses etc – suffering we have no control over.

    2. “Unnatural causes”, such as child-abuse, torture, poverty, war etc – suffering caused by human action or inaction.

    I am a strong believer in Tikkun Olam – Mending the World – and Tzedakah – Compassionate Justice. To me those two concepts have been left entirely in human hands to accomplish and practice.

    I can either choose to bring suffering to others, or I can choose not to bring suffering to others. That is my Free Will – in case of the former, what befalls those people suffering is my doing, not G-d’s.

    G-d cannot, and will not interfere with human Free Will other than to either bring people into our lives that influence us to act in accordance with His Law/Will or to bring people into our lives to alleviate suffering caused by others or by natural causes (as specified above). So the child being abused is my responsibility to do something about. Poverty is my responsibility, Global warming and so on is my responsibility – not alone as others are involved in the same actions, but it is my responsibility to act in such a way that I in my life work to do what I reduce suffering brought by others. The entire Torah was meant to teach us this – the responsibility is to listen and act on what we hear is entirely ours.

    As for Yael’s Grandmother’s Rosh Hashana plates – somewhere someone choose to listen to their inner voice, that told them that those plates belonged with Yael, why they did this is buried in the inner workings of the human mind, but a guess would be love. Love for the woman who left those plates and love for the woman who was to get them – others got other things that in the end would mean something to them, and perhaps they didn’t even know why that would mean something to them. But our minds are not isolated entities, human thought and emotion are interconnected, and most of the time we are not aware of the things we realize about the other, standing right beside us.

    The other day, without knowing where the thought came from, I told my Wife to go and take some painkillers, because she had a migraine attack coming. She looked at me like I was crazy, and admitted that indeed she had a tense feeling right where her migraines usually start. Did G-d tell me? No, I don’t think so – after thinking about it, I realized that I had made a number of small observations, without being aware that I made them. Observations about her demeanor, facial expression and eye-expression which I just then connected to her having a migraine attack, something I had observed at other times, without being aware that those expressions were caused by a migraine.

    Making observations and acting on them out of love, even if we do not know that we have made those observations, is something we do all the time – it doesn’t have anything to do with G-d as such (other than the fact that He made us with mental and emotional capacities and sensitivities), but has everything to do with how human faculties.

    The Plate Story, is lovely, Yael – if I were you I would see as an expression of love in co-operation πŸ™‚

    Thank you for coming here and commenting – (((Hug)))


  5. Yael said

    The plates are an interesting story. My great-grandmother gave them to my mother before I was even born. My mom had them in her cupboard forever and never used them. None of us knew what they were, I don’t even know if my mother knew. Some years before she died my mother gave them to me along with some other things from her cupboard. She always told me I was a lot like her great-grandmother so that’s why I got them. The plates then sat in my cupboard for several years unused. I didn’t know what they were until after I’d converted and stumbled across these same plates on a Judaica website. I think I stared at them at least an hour!

    There was never any mention of Jewishness in our family until when, shortly before she died, my mother mentioned about her own mother. By then I had already decided to convert but hadn’t told anyone.

    The whole story makes me wonder about many things, but I still don’t know what I think of it all. It doesn’t really fit with my conception of how the world works! I guess that’s why I make a good Conservative Jew. I can hold to these contradictions without being too bothered by it all!


  6. Yael said

    2nd part:

    I don’t think I’d say my faith is stronger than anyone’s, perhaps it’s just a matter of different personalities, different needs, different understandings. I guess I don’t really even think in terms of faith, belief, etc.

    If God is really actively controlling the world, God seems to be missing a lot of stuff. But, would it be a good thing for God to be that active? We’d all be puppets. God from a distance, God setting it all in motion and letting us take over, seems to make more sense to me. Yet sometimes God seems very near and things happen that have to make me wonder.

    Tikkun Olam, repair of the world, our responsibility to make the world better, to fix what needs fixing. Yet if it’s all up to us, for what purpose do we need God? Partnership with God in repair of the world makes more sense to me, but I still can’t figure out the roles!

    And you’re right. None of this really matters anyway. Actions are what matter, the thoughts behind those actions? Big deal. It’s still fun to think about though….

    I’m going to post some things on my blog that I wrote last year about where was God when things happen. You’ll have to tell me what you think.

    Also, I’d like to invite you over to two of my blogs which are not open to public viewing and where I have commenting enabled. If you are interested, drop me an email and I will do so.


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