Finite 2 Plus Finite 2 Do Not Always Equal Infinite Four

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14 Responses

  1. Michoel says:

    Hello Rabbi Feldman,
    I am a great admirer of your writing, both the content and the prose. Certainly we cannot fully understand those things that the kadmonim couldn’t. So, yes, we should approach with due caution and depth. At the same time, I am bit frustrated with those who are so quick to criticize g’dolim who have attempted to explain why certain tragedies occur. If we are not n’viyim that can give specific reasons, I think that we can say with confidence that tradegies happen because of aveiros and they are intended to inspire t’shuvah. I think this attitude is the minimun demanded by the Torah and to say otherwise is perhaps even cruel.

  2. Micha says:

    If I may make a meta-comment:

    I’m happy to see a post that actually is Orthodox Judaism as opposed to a post about the sociology of the Orthodox community as part of the greater Jewish and world communities. This forum has some good names associated with it; I’d be thrilled to see more of your Torah.


  3. Jack says:

    I think that we can say with confidence that tradegies happen because of aveiros and they are intended to inspire t’shuvah.

    I am sorry, but I find this line of thought to be offensive and just completely unsatisfactory. To suggest that because someone broke Shabbos, ate a cheeseburger or did some other dastardly deed is a reason to destroy the lives of thousands is unacceptable. I cannot buy into it.

    The people who look at the deaths in Asia and claim that these people were killed because of their sins make me very angry. So many of the victims were children, I don’t believe for a moment in a G-d that would act in this fashion.

  4. David Brand says:

    Trying to ascribe reasons to the disaster is very problematic. By this, I mean CAUSATIVE reasons, such as “he did X, and that’s why this (or any) disaster occurred”. There are far too many tragedies that simply defy explantaion, especially when the victims are innocent children.

    As a predicted in an earlier post, my Rov, Rabbi Zev Cohen, addressed the Tsunami tragedy directly. To paraphrase his words, he called a couple of gedolim for advice on how to understand such massive tragedy on such a massive scale. The answer was, simply that there are certain things that we, as humans, cannot understand. At the same time, he quoted two sources. In Yevamos 63a, “R’Elazar bar Avina said that misfortune comes to the world only on account of Israel.” That means that while we cannot ascribe a CAUSATIVE relationship between us and the Tsunami, it certainly came about for us to pay attention to. The second source was the very first Rashi in Berashis tells us that the good things in the world were created for us. He gave several real-world examples of modern inventions and conveniences that make our lives easier and said that they were created for us.

    To sum it up, both the good and bad things are created for us. It’s our job to pay attention to things and realize that we have a very high level of responsibility.

  5. Michoel says:

    I was actually very careful to NOT say either of the two things you attribute to me. RE your cheesburger comment, when people speak with gross hyperbole all communication shuts down. RE your second paragraph, I said that tragedies happen because of aveiros. I did not say who’s avieros and I also did not say that inonocent people never suffer. Please reread my post. This is a forum for everyone but is a forum about Orthodox Judaism. The Torah, which I believe was given by Gd on Mt. Sinai, states very clearly what the consequences of aveiros are. Is a Gd that says he will bring terrible harsh punishments for sins any less cruel (so to speak) than a Gd who actually does it?

  6. Scott Aarons says:

    Indonesia is the largest radical Islamic state on this planet. My concerns are about giving chartiy and mercy to those who mean to kill us. The Indonesians had massive demonstrations of joy when the World Trade Towers were destoyed. The Indonesians had massive demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden as we prepared our war in Afghanistan. The Indonesians ruthlessly slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent Christians just because they are Christians. There is no doubt in my mind that the child we save in Indonesia today will be the suicide bomber of tomorrow. Most of our Jewish and Christian bretheren are overcome with emotions of sympathy and horror over what the tsunami has wrought upon our enemies and have given to their aid in their hour of need. However, I am convinced that there will me no gratitude as evidenced by what took place in Sri Lanka. I was under the impression that those who are compassionate with the wicked are in turn being cruel to the righteous. Am I out of line? I will respect the criticisms of Rev. Feldman and the other contributors to this forum.

  7. josef says:

    Picking up on David Brand….” It’s our job to pay attention to things and realize that we have a very high level of responsibility.”

    My grandfather (of blessed memory), who never attended any school, once told me “J..someatimes too much education isa no good.” What he meant, of course, is that our ability and desire to delve into the deepest areas of mystifying thought or confounding events, too often blocks our understanding of the simplest meanings, and affects our behaviour on the most basic level.

    For some 4,000 years the world has struggled with the concept of “the chosen people”. And like it or not, the Israelites were “it” then, and we are still “it” today though some seem to have trouble recalling what “it” means. Some forget G-d was never in need of any special people….but mankind definitely was in need of them.

    We need to pay attention to the world in which we live, the mankind of which we are a part. And we need to fulfill our highest level of responsibility through a demonstrated comprehension of what that means.

    Though the media largely ignored it, within hours of the tsunami tragedy becoming known to the world, two planeloads of medicine, baby food, and other aid, departed Israel for the stricken countries….that is hours, not days. And more was being prepared. No question was asked as to why such tragedy occurred, nor was action delayed pending an answer from the recesses of Kaballah. A portion of mankind was suddenly afflicted and available help had to be provided.

    So long ago we said “We will do, and we will hear.” Each day today we are challenged to be what we are supposed to be, do as we are supposed to do, in the belief that in doing we will be blessed with understanding. Personally, the daily challenges are so all-encompassing it is hard to find time to ponder the “why” of each portion. In the end we all should stand in awe by the fact that we are devinely prodded to do what we are supposed to do, and we are then even blessed for doing it.

  8. Marvin Schwartz says:

    First answer why re; the Holocaust then go to other tragedies.

  9. Chaim says:

    Of course we can’t contemplate the actions of G-d. However, as to Mr. Aarons’s comment, there are two things to keep in mind. 1) Not all of the victtims are Arabs, and therefore not terrorists. 2) We can’t play G-d. We aren’t the one’s to decide, “Oh, he’ll become a terrorist. We can’t save him. If not him, someone else will perform the act. It’s not our place.

    Also remember; It’s very possible that the children who were killed would’ve grown up to become terrorists. These comments may sound contradictory, but they’re not. We didn’t play G-d, G-d himself acted. I just hope these comments will help enlighten some.

  10. Albert Lakanu says:

    In time of tragedy, we see people as people, not as opponet, we should extend a loving hands and a warm caring heart, as the mitzvah ‘sing’, love your neighbour as you. But in every event of this magnitude, there are lessons to be learnt, The g’dolim, He who hid His face in the inner structure, He who ruled with His mind conceal, might be talking to us. Today is the Nations, next it might be us, if we do’nt shape up. –Al–

  11. James Keyes says:

    “Although we remain strong believers in a just Gd despite unanswered questions – “though He slay me I still believe in Him” ( Job 13:15)– we must not hide our face from the questions.” Perhaps the questions themselves are more of a sign of our rebellious nature than we care to admit. I find no comfort in questions, but prefer to do what I know is required. As Rabbi Feldman so aptly puts it: “sigh deeply, pray intensely, and then get on with the business of living and serving and helping and supporting those in distress.” All the rest seems to be an incorrect response to Gd’s creation.

  12. Ed Love says:

    It seem that after every catastrophe someone asks the questions, “Why did Gd do this?” or “Why did Gd let this happen?” I agree with Thomas Jefferson who said, “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that Gd is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.” The question is not so much did those who died ‘deserve’ it. We all ‘deserve’ it. The question is why has Gd not wiped us all off the face of the earth. We need to thank him for his longsuffering love and the fact that we have the opportunity for a chance to become what he would have us become. In his trials, Job said, “Shall we accept good from Gd and not trouble?”

  13. Heshy Grossman says:

    It’s great to see the comments of Rabbi Emanuel Feldman posted here. Rabbi Feldman is undoubtedly one of the most eloquent and intelligent Orthodox writers on the planet. May G-d bless you with continued years of health, happiness and Nachas from your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Kein Yirbu!

  14. Phil Silverman says:

    1. I believe the Rambam wrote “Sefer Ahava” — How to Love God. Can you help us readers find the section on how to love God after a horrible tragedy?
    2. I think that Rabbi Pam had said about the Holocaust: “Not only don’t we have the answers, we don’t even have the questions.” How does this comment square with all these great attempts at finding great questions?

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