“It is because I believed in God that I was angry at God, and still am. But my faith is tested, wounded, but it’s here. So whatever I say, it’s always from inside faith……Within my traditions, you know, it is permitted to question God, even to take Him to task.” Elie Wiesel, The Tragedy of the Believer.
In recent weeks, I have been overwhelmed with questions that I ask of God. It is a fruitless exercise because really, there are no possible answers.
Some of my questions are the really big ones….like the ones about humanity and our future.
I live with my unanswered questions and they stubbornly remain with me, as I go about my day in these strange times.
Now, piled on top of my doubts about health and safety are new questions about hate and fear and it is a growing heap of biblical proportions.
Has it only been weeks that things are this way? Have we not been on pause for an endless amount of time?
Enough is Enough
There has been so much to cry out to God about—to scream with outrage that enough is enough.
Thousands of years ago, Abraham was one soul speaking for many when he cried out at the injustice of destroying cities when it would mean that law-abiding people would also perish:
חָלִ֨לָה לְּךָ֜ מֵעֲשֹׂ֣ת ׀ כַּדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֗ה לְהָמִ֤ית צַדִּיק֙ עִם־רָשָׁ֔ע וְהָיָ֥ה כַצַּדִּ֖יק כָּרָשָׁ֑ע חָלִ֣לָה לָּ֔ךְ הֲשֹׁפֵט֙ כָּל־הָאָ֔רֶץ לֹ֥א יַעֲשֶׂ֖ה מִשְׁפָּֽט׃
“Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” Genesis 18:25
Imagine the audacity of Abraham. Not only did he question politely, he challenged God’s decision aggressively and as we know in later verses, did not back down. He stayed the course no matter the consequences. He directed his anger at God and felt justified.
During these months of Covid, my frustration and anger had no target—-because who was there to blame?
These feelings, stubbornly were present each morning as I checked the numbers of newly dead. It was overwhelming.
And yet, there was to be more anger on top of that.
New situations of hatred and racism bore an even larger balloon of anger, except this time, there are situations that can be remedied with the capacity to provoke long term change.
Within the outcry against racism and bigotry is a budding leaf of hope.
Who is responsible?
We are being challenged to our core as a society. As Elie Wiesel says, we can take God to task. But ultimately, we are responsible for each other. We create the environment of either hatred or peace. We have the ability to change things.
How can we be loving toward each other?
Hundreds and hundreds of years after Abraham confronts the Creator, God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah, and challenges us to be our better selves and earn our place on this planet:
כֹּֽה־אָמַ֞ר יְהוָ֤ה צְבָאוֹת֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל הֵיטִ֥יבוּ דַרְכֵיכֶ֖ם וּמַֽעַלְלֵיכֶ֑ם וַאֲשַׁכְּנָ֣ה אֶתְכֶ֔ם בַּמָּק֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃
“Thus said the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel: Mend your ways and your actions, and I will let you dwell in this place.” Jeremiah 7:3
In order to connect to God, we need to connect with each other, treating each other with kindness, justice, and compassion.
There can be recovery.
So many times after destruction there was hope.
We already have learned so much about ourselves in these months; our instinctive selfishness yet our expansive generosity, our innate capacity for hate yet our boundless ability to love.
I have faith in God, and I also have faith that we can arrive at the place (HaMakom in Hebrew) that we are meant to be.