It’s Divine Punishment

Do you think it’s coincidence that Ariel Sharon had a stroke now? Just months after the disengagement? After he gave away part of the Holy Land? No, we know better, it’s no coincidence…

OK, let’s stop there. As Jews, we believe that there are people who genuinely have Divine Inspiration. [And needless to say, I mean that very sincerely. If a great Rav speculates on why something may have happened, we do have to listen.] But there are also fools, and the pronouncements of the fools are more frequent. I don’t think we can hope to explain why G-d chose this time for a 77-year-old man with a weight problem and heart defect to have a cerebral hemorrhage.

As heard from Rav Dovid Katz: there were many in the religious community who were upset that the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics chose to march in the opening ceremonies, because they were held on Rosh Hashanah. When the athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists, there were murmurings about Divine Judgment.

Rav Yitzchak Sternhill, zt”l, was a fervent, Chassidic Rav here in Baltimore. Exactly the type of person who would support thinking like that, right?

Wrong. Very wrong. He stood up in shul and told people that one of his Rebbeim was murdered by the Nazis on Rosh HaShanah in the death camps.

So if they think they know the ways of G-d, how do they explain that?

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8 Responses

  1. Joshua Nathan says:

    Dear Rav Menken,

    I agree with you on this 100% keep up the good work. We can not understand the ways of hashem and it is not our job either. Rav Ahron Soloveichik those who try to explain the holocaust either show blasphemy or they show ignorance. If one has a painting so in order to be able to see it you must stand at a distance to appreciate and see the art of it. So too now, we cannot give judgement on current things that occur or even things that happened long ago; we do not have a complete picture.

  2. Elie says:

    Any human being who thinks they can explain why bad things happen to good people (or to any people) is arrogant, foolish, and cruel. If an acknowledged Godol did so, I would soften these epithets to “misguided” and “injudicious”, but would grant the pronouncement no more credibility.

    To misquote Robert Heinlein, we have about as much chance of understanding G-d’s plan as a dog has of understanding how dog food gets into cans. We will never know and to even try is the path to despair and faithlessness. The only proper question is not “why?” but “how do we move on?”

  3. mycroft says:

    Not that Rabbi Frand needs me to advertise his comments-but if I recollect correctly last night he stated that — unfortunately we don’t have a navi to tell us what God means — we can check our own actions in reponse to tragedies — but never judge someone else. I believe he said something like that — it is too good for me to make up myself.

  4. Bob Miller says:

    All the points above are well taken. However, since we do accept that G-d sends messages to
    the Jewish people at times of His choosing, could a stance that world events are
    fundamentally incomprehensible someday filter out critically important messages?

  5. Southern Belle says:

    Why doesn’t anyone speculate why it is that Hashem let him LIVE so strongly, at his age and weight, in order to execute the disengagement as he did? Maybe he was kept alive long enough to do exactly this task. (and before I hear flak for this, I was not a supporter of the plan) We should not try to guess the mind of Hashem.

  6. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that Chazal had a rather pithy and sharp comment about the possesors of prophecy in their
    time that we all would do well to think about before we start invoking claims that reolve around and’
    are based on theodicy-type statements and assumptions.

  7. mycroft says:

    To the best of my knowledge none of the contributors to this blog are children-
    none of the rest of the commentators want to be put into the category of who prophecy is left with after
    the Men of the Great Assembly-Anshe Knesset Hagdolah.
    I agree with Steve Brizel about the great caution required before discussing issues of theodicy-Zaddik vra lo vrasha vtov lo. Frankly I knew the Hebrew before the Ebglish-similar to a fortiori-don’t know if I would know the term if I didn’t know about kal vachomer.

  8. Pesach says:

    Dear Rav Menken,

    I can understand why one should not speculate on why or how Hashem moves in a given situation. However, we have to understand that in the case for Gush Kaitf, which I visited during Keslev 5765, Mr. Sharon was forewarned by many a Chasidim to abandon his plan … which he did not.
    That said, one has free will to obey the mitzvot or not. Consequences, whatever they me be,will arise in various degrees and stages. Like Shaul HaMelech, Mr. Sharon was a great warrior and champion for the Eretz Israel, but because of Shaul HaMelech’s transgression, he too lost his rule over Israel, David HaMelech became his successor. There are strict mitzvot concerning Eretz.
    Mr. Sharon won’t ever give the order to expel another
    Jew from his home anytime soon, perhaps never if he
    doesn’t recover.
    Had the Israeli atheles observed Rosh Hashana
    would they have been victims? If one is in a death camp then one has no control over his situation. But he does have the opportunity of tefilah until his last breath even if sword is at his neck … our Sages teach this.

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