January 5, 2006

by Andrew Silow-Carroll
"You don't say," part 3

"You don't say" analysis of the week, from Ha'aretz.com:

Analysis: Poor health succeeded in stopping Sharon

Plus, any bets on how long it takes for the usual Jewish suspects to say the stroke was a divine punishment?


Although he is not one of the "usual 'Jewish' suspects", according to Salon.com, Pat Robertson has already made such a claim.

Posted by: HB at January 5, 2006 6:15 PM

The alternative, Andrew, is to assume a world which is run by no one and in which there is no final accounting for one's action. I don't know whether you're more or less comfortable in a world construct in which actions bear divine consequences. I think we don't have enough of those. I pray daily for the wicked to be punished and the righteous rewarded. So when I see Bush experiencing a dramatic collapse within days of the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, I count it as divine punishment. And when I see the Jewish leader who collaborated in this expulsion getting a massive stroke shortly thereafter, I'm free to see it as divine punishment.

I don't think it's the only way to view these events, but I certainly refuse to ignore my gut sensation. I do believe that God is punishing Sharon. As a man in my shul said tonight, I hope he'll survive to repent his actions.

Incidentally, I find it interesting that many people are willing to accept that Sharon was a victim of cabalistic voodoo (pulsa d'nura), and not that God did it to him. Strange stuff.

Posted by: Yori yanover at January 5, 2006 6:30 PM

Ah, but Yori, the promise of the final accounting acquits us of having to give any credence to any penultimate accounting in this world.

Posted by: Reb Yudel at January 6, 2006 1:28 AM

"The alternative, Andrew, is to assume a world which is run by no one and in which there is no final accounting for one's action."

I'd much prefer that alternative if it meant avoiding comments as grotesque, presumptuous, smug, and convenient as yours.

Posted by: andy at January 6, 2006 10:14 AM


* *This afternoon, as Jews, alongside all people of good will, around
the world prayed for the health and welfare of ailing Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon, Rev. Pat Robertson stated on his “700 Club”
television show that the illness struck Prime Minister Sharon because,
citing the biblical book of Joel, “He was dividing God’s land.” Rev.
Robertson went on to state: “And I would say, Woe unto any prime
minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the
United Nations or the United States of America. God says, ‘This land
belongs to me. You better leave it alone.’”

In response, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest
Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, issued the following statement:

Rev. Robertson’s remarks, as reported to me, are deeply troubling. The
thrust of his remarks is that Prime Minister Sharon’s life-threatening
illness is a punishment for the disengagement from Gaza. No person can
know G-d's reasons for human illnesses or calamities. That G-d's ways
are often inscrutable is a basic and accepted component of our belief
system and that of the world’s great religions. Jewish prophets from
Moses on found that G-d's ways were mysterious. Why “/Tzadik v'ra lo/” -
bad things happen to good people - is a question about which libraries
of books have been written, but the bottom line is that human humility
demands that we admit our ignorance and bow to His will.

We continue to pray that G-d who is the /“rofeh cholim”/ – Healer of the
ill – bless Mr. Sharon who, whether one agrees or disagrees with his
specific policy positions, is a person who dedicated his life to Jewish
people and the Jewish state, with healing and recovery and bless his
family and all of Israel with comfort and peace.


Posted by: andy at January 6, 2006 10:34 AM

Here's the difference between what Pat Robertson says and what I say.

Robertson suggests there's a strict Godly agenda, the completeness of the land of Israel, and anyone who interferes with it is punished. That's, indeed, a convenient and smug political statement, dressed up as a religious message.

To educate Andrew on the finer points of Jewish faith, there is such a thing as consequences for our actions. Were you to attend Yom Kippur services regularly, you'd have noted in the Tefilah Zakah portion, just before Kol Nidrei, a statement about how we create "good angels" with our good deeds and "bad angels" with our bad.

This simply means that it's up to us to spread goodness or evil in the world, and when we spread evil, it comes back to bite us on the ass. A leader who expels some 8,000 Jews off their land is doing evil, in my opinion. And, again, in my opinion, evil of such magnitude does not go away easily. It hurts others, and it could certainly hurt the ones who created it.

If Andrew seeks a more stylish religion, there are plenty to choose from, but this smug Jew chooses to integrate the idea of Sachar v'onesh b'olam haze – Reward and punishment in this world – into his daily life (and not the next one, about which I know nothing).

Posted by: Yori yanover at January 8, 2006 6:25 AM

Thanks for the Hebrew school lesson. I'm not quibbling with Jewish tradition -- just with any one individual's willingness to do a ventriloguist act for G-d and ascribe his own self-serving and presumptuous interpretation of another's life and legacy to "divine punishment." Is the OU wrong when it says "No person can know G-d's reasons for human illnesses or calamities," or has G-d actually told them the truth and they're keeping it under wraps?

Besides, I'm not exactly sure what the "divine punishment" here is. If an angel came to me tomorrow and said I would live to be 77, despite being morbidly obese, and with the opportunity to fulfill my grandest ambition up until the moment I am to be felled by a swift and mercifully devastating stroke, I think I'd beathe a sigh of relief.

Posted by: Silow-Carroll at January 9, 2006 9:52 AM
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