Abiding in the amazement

Cain kills Abel; God asks Cain where is his brother; Cain claims not to know, and challenges God by proclaiming he is not Abel’s keeper. God replies that the blood of Abel is calling out. The Midrash boldly suggests an alternative reading: the blood of Abel is yelling at (or against) God, accusing God of standing by and permitting the injustice. (Genesis Rabbah 22:9)

As has been pointed out with respect to the Shoah, we are quick to ask where God was; less frequently do we ask where was Humanity.

As Holocaust survivors, my grandparents have never held God responsible for the deaths of family members or for their earlier years of torment. They do, however, consider their lives and their descendants miracles of God. They’ve never claimed to be more righteous or deserving of God’s attention or intervention; but they accept their gifts of life as miraculous nonetheless. For them, every day — despite the aches and pains, the losses of loved ones and the toll of the mundane — is a miracle.

Just off of Yom Hashoah and Yom Ha’atzmaut, I wrestle with my seemingly conflicting understanding of God. In reflecting on the Shoah, I say God was not accountable, except to the extent that God made room in the world for our free will. That conscious act created the possibility for the distinctiveness of good versus bad, of right versus wrong, of exultation versus disappointment. Put another way, in making room for evil, God created the possibility for us to live lives of meaning, as opposed to merely existing.

And yet, when it comes to the birth of the State of Israel — as is the case of the birth of my children — I proclaim that God was “in the room.” Despite the many sleepless nights that follow those births, I abide in the amazement of the miracle, as my grandparents do and as we as a people do, every single day.

I personally cannot believe in a God that would desire the suffering of the innocent or the young, of family or friends. I choose to believe in the God that invites me to choose life over death, blessings above curses. My God is the God that abides in the blessings I bring when I offer comfort, strength and healing energy. My God is the God that is revealed when I come together in community to offer prayer and to mobilize in action. My God is the God that is felt in the hearts of the suffering when they feel me acting as their keeper.

Do you wish to help a friend, but don’t know how? Do you wonder where God is in the suffering? Choose life. Recite Psalm 121 daily at 7:30pm with and for Rabbi Drill as she, with God’s and our help, experiences a refuah shleimah (complete healing), and add a psalm of healing for those in your life who are in need. Give someone else the gift of life, and donate blood. Perform an act of kindness in the name of a loved one. Remember someone you love. Abide in the amazement of something you once called a miracle.

Shabbat shalom, and a speedy recovery, my friend,

Rabbi Craig Scheff

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3 responses to “Abiding in the amazement”

  1. Sharon says :

    Thank you for your words. Sometimes it’s very hard to reconcile my belief in G-d and all the difficult things in the world around us.

  2. J. Scott (Yitzchak) says :

    Very thoughtful message, HaRav Scheff. Every day is a miracle for each and every one of us. I am grateful that Hashem has given me a chance to do something good, despite the difficulty of having many disabilities. At times I would be angry at the Holy One, but I realized He/She has given me gifts that override my barriers. As the old saying goes: “Count your blessings.”

  3. superwoman910 says :

    May God’s will be as ours, may our prayers be answered and our Tehillim be heard. May the healers hands, hearts and souls be one and guided by Gds own. Thank you Reb Scheff for reminding us that God is always in the room if we open our hearts and souls to acknowledge Gods presence. I picture us all holding hands surrounding our Rav and great friend with our love and healing thoughts. Asah Ainai it is!

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