Thursday, July 03, 2008

Why the Tragedy?

Emes veEmunah does not know, and he says he does not know.
For reasons known only to You, You have seen fit to torment Your people in this way. I know You have Your reasons. But what have we done as a people to deserve this at this moment in history - so soon after the holocaust? I ask this with Emunah Shelaima - complete faith and with all the love, awe, and reverence for You that I have in my soul - B’Chol L'vovcha U’Bchol Nafshecha - was the holocaust not enough?

Tzadik V’Ra Lo. Why do the righteous suffer? This is theodicy. But how can we make sense of the insensible? There are no satisfying answers although many traditional explanations are given.
Meanwhile, LazerBeams not only knows why it happened, but he predicted it.

His prediction:
Just three days ago on my weekly Sunday slot on Israel National Radio, I spoke about the connections between the San Francisco gay parade and the wildfires all across Northern California. With a lump in my throat I added, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," trembling at what might happen after the Israeli government and Supreme Court allowed a public display of abomination in the streets of Jerusalem and hoping that the emuna revolution in Israel would be enough to get us off the hook.
And here is where he explains why this happened:
The location of the bulldozer massacre was very symbolic - right on the corner of Yafo and Sarei Yisrael Streets. This is in effect the border between the religious and non-religious neighborhoods. What's Hashem telling us? Don't just blame the gays and the impurade. When religious women's hemlines go up and necklines go down, when they wear tight fitting clothes with a long blond wig that reaches vertebrae #8 and clicky spike heels, then the Divine Presence also says bye-bye.
Thus, it was the fault of the gay pride parade, but also because the religious are not extreme enough in their standards of tznius.

It must be wonderful to have such ruach hakodesh, and to be privy to the private thoughts of HaKadosh Baruch Hu -- to be able to pluck one detail from among thousands and pinpoint that as the intended symbolism, and to be able to correctly interpret that symbol, such that it reinforces your true beliefs, which you held until this point.

See, if I were to look for the symbolism, I would think to seize upon the same symbolism of location -- the border between the religious and non-religious neighborhoods -- and say that this was punishment for the failure in the relationship between religious and non-religious. That is, the sinas chinam which inevitably manifests, for example, in protests against the parade, and in the condemnation and villification of the other.

Of course, I know that I do not have ruach hakodesh, and would not try to make use of such a tragedy to promote my own beliefs. I would recognize that it is possible for different people to twist it to any agenda they have, and put words in Hashem's mouth. In the end, I would agree with Rabbi Harry Maryles at Emes veEmuna that as we try to come to terms with it, we do not know the reason for such a tragedy.


Devorah said...

Yes well maybe....who really knows anything at all..... but it was the Melitzer Rebbe who Lazer Brody was quoting.

Anonymous said...

These people remind me of the Palestinians who, after each terror attack, announce that it was an "inevitable reaction to the outrageous {insert most recent Israeli military action here}".

In both cases there is no clear evidence for the connection, yet if you have an agenda to push, such details are unlikely to get in your way.

joshwaxman said...

My reading of the post is that it was Reb Lazer Brody's chiddush, and he showed it to the Melitzer Rebbe before posting -- and the Melitzer Rebbe approved the message. Thus:

"I had tremendous inner turmoil about whether to post this or not. I showed it to the Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a, who said, "Post it - it's all true.""

I would venture that even the Melitzer Rebbe does not know why this happened.

It is true that in times of tragedy, a Jewish response is to turn it into an opportunity for introspection and self-improvement, all with humility to recognize that this is just one's own guess. My assessment, which may be wrong or right, is that this is not a productive channeling of this tragedy, for a few reasons:

1) Blaming it on the "impurade" is not introspection, but blaming it on others, extrospection. See this post on parshablog for elaboration. None of his audience were participating in the parade, and many were vocally against it. This is then an opportunity to blast others, and to cast the gays as rodefim. And in fact this was the message before this year's parade. Next year, who knows what loon will want to prevent the loss of Jewish life in a terror attack by taking more *physical* steps to prevent the march.

2) Even where it was introspective, in terms of tznius, much of his audience has already subscribed to this belief and practice. As such, it smacks of the same extrospective message.

3) I think, based on blogrolls, content, and the like, that he already has associations with people who fetishize tznius to an extreme, such that they believe false prophets that mashiach is coming within the year, that only a tiny portion, of righteous people, will survive, and that those righteous are not roshei yeshiva, regular frum Jews, and the like. Rather, only those who adopt the extremes of tznius will help bring mashiach and will survive the terrible tragedies that will occur as the world ends. (The same also predicted terrible happenings as a result of the gay pride parade.) The Melitzer Rebbe might not be informed enough about this to give an informed endorsement, but Reb Lazer Brody's "prediction" that this would happen, and that the "impurade" plus tznius failures of religious folk caused this, such that we must adopt more stringent standards of tznius (which is in truth a halachic question best answered by local poskim rather than mystics) -- all of this falls directly in line with a very dangerous agenda. IMHO, of course.

Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

Well said - both the post and the comment - as usual.

Anonymous said...

Here's another rabbi saying the same thing as Lazer Brody

joshwaxman said...

yes. it is unfortunate. (though they actually only converge on the gay parade. they each have a secondary, different reason.)


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