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July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
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Religion’s Most Repellant Idea

The late Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum.

The late Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum.

Some cite the Talmud (Shabbat 55a): “No death without sin; no suffering without iniquity.” Or again: “If a man sees that he is afflicted with suffering, he should examine his deeds, as it is said, ‘Let us search and try our ways, and return unto the Lord’ (Lam. 3:40).” The Talmud adds: “Suffering is due to evil deeds or neglect of Torah study.” But all these pronouncements apply to our own suffering. If something bad happens to us we have the right to examine our actions. But our assumption of everyone else must be that they are righteous and their suffering is undeserved.

Any attempts to infuse suffering with rich meaning shows callous indifference to the heartache of fellow humans. Suffering does not leave us ennobled, empathic, or wiser. Rather, it leave us broken, morose, and bitter. And if I’m wrong and suffering is such a great teacher than why is it that any responsible parent would exert every effort to save their child from suffering?

As for the Rabbis who say that Jews are sinful and deserve to die, they make me miss the Lubavitcher Rebbe ever more. I can still close my eyes and see him, ever so clearly and well into his late eighties, pounding the table in public with all his might” “How long?” he would cry, “How long?” How long will Israeli soldiers die in defense of their homeland? Many more Jews will be dismembered by murderous bombs? Why has the Messiah not yet come? And how can anyone calling himself a Rabbi have the chutzpah to ever justify the death of innocents?

This column is dedicated to the memory of Machla Debakarov, the mother of a close friend of Rabbi Shmuley’s.

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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9 Responses to “Religion’s Most Repellant Idea”

  1. Mildred Bilt says:

    The impoverished Jews of some sections of Eastern Europe were forced to attend Christian churches on Sunday and were continuously subjected to the sermons from the pulpit. No matter how much they tried to close their ears, it penetrated. So today those same ideas are perpeurated by specific sects of the Hasidim. They have no idea they are spouting apostacy; by now it's ingrained into their belief systems. They are semi Catholic. Because of their deliberately insular life style they have no way to assess their misbegotten credos, The Satmars are not the only sect that was affected and infected.

  2. Hadar Israel says:

    Divre' Qefirà by this guy.
    In plain English: worthless B.S.
    No surprise here. He is not new to kashering pigs.
    Contrary to what he says, the WHOLE Torah stand on the principle of reward and punishment, just as we were punished during the First and Second Beth HaMiqdash, and MILLIONS died and were exiled by the Romans and the Babylonians, who were instruments and paid and will pay for what they did.
    A REALLY JEWISH approach to the issue can be found in the article "Confronting The Holocaust Jewishly", penned by a REAL Talmid Chakham, who had for years a column in this paper, and who received semichà TWICE: once at the Mirrer Yeshiva by Rav Kalmanovitch, the other, after moving to Erets Israel, by Rav Mordechai Eliahu:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/am-israel/message/7493
    and
    http://ruvysroost.blogspot.it/2010/06/confronting-holocaust-jewishly-by-rav.html

  3. Brian Kent says:

    Anti-Torah article in the JP.Sadly a first.I hope it is the last.

  4. This is a theme in The Source that I didn't know about. Also in The Chosen by Potok? I'm not sure. There's a good "discussion" at the end of Michener's The Source that talks about this and the "right of return".

    Here are my "school books":

    SHORT LIST (See Full list “THE Books” Facebook page).
    The Haj by Leon Uris.
    The Source by James Michener.
    Muslim Mafia by Gaubatz and Sperry.
    Because They Hate by Brigitte Gabriel.
    “Slavery, Terrorism and Islam” and “Holocaust in Rwanda” by Peter Hammond.
    The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America by David Horowitz.
    Ivory Towers On Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America by Martin Kramer.
    The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism by Andrew G. Bostom
    The Legacy of Jihad by Andrew G. Bostom MD
    A Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden
    The Book of Jewish Knowledge by Nathan Ausubel.
    The New Moody Atlas of the Bible by Barry J. Beitzel
    The Al Qaeda Reader by Raymond Ibrahim.
    Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law.
    Sahih al-Bukhari (With Sheikh Humaid's article on Jihad).
    The Koran: Pickthall.
    The Quran: Yusuf Ali: Translated by Prof. Syed Vickar Ahmed.
    Holy Qur'an with Commentary: Maulana Muhammad Ali.
    The Second Message of Islam by Mahmoud Mohamed Taha.

  5. The Rabbi is dumb. anyone whom God gives to be born into the flesh and live in this world is obviously going to suffer for the experience. That is original sin, what we Catholics accept as the consequence of Adam offending God and being forced out of the Garden of Eden, to till the soil , suffer and die. The Rabbis thinks the world is some sort of Utopian Paradise, just waiting for the day it blossoms. That is psychotic thinking. The price of being human is to accept suffering , not because you are bad, but the human condition came by God's curse upon Adam, and so we need to have Faith that God ultimately saves us, and Jesus showed us that the Innocent Man, like Job, will suffer, but it is what God's Torah says must be.

  6. This is a topic that is at best highly controversial and leaves the author to be attacked on many sides. So kudos to Rabbi Shmuley for even expressing his ideas, which are always welcome. In fact Hashgocho Protis means that there are certain sinners who HAVE to die in order for their sins to be expiated and then the soul can move on to heaven.
    As far as WHY the Holocaust and myriad other disasters happened to us Jews and many others is strictly left up to Hashem's reasoning. There is no human being alive or dead who truly understood Hashem's rationale for everything he did. It is said that in every generation there is a leader, our own MOSES, who can lead us to the path of God.
    Let us hope we acknowledge the right Moses if we can all agree on anyone. Compassion and sympathy should be given and felt for anyone who suffers. We all suffer. If someone says they live in Bliss all the time – they are probably fodder for a mental asylum or truly resonating with a God consciousness we can all envy.
    Please remember the concept of Reincarnation and the Why of why our personal soul has been imbued in us in this body we now use.
    Also there is an element of collective reward and punishment, clearly discussed in Mesechtot Zevachim and Menachos and others that describe the various sacrifices we brought individually and collectively as a nation. Again, please don't judge Rabbi Shmuley too harshly for one article. I'm sure he can write a book(s) on this topic alone.

  7. The Rabbi was simply saying that when bad things happen, it's not always because the victim committed a sin in their own life.

    Sometimes the suffering is inflicted by men who live outside the rules…look at Catholic history and all the evils committed by the church. You can't blame the victim for the sins committed against them. Likewise, when those same evil men lived lives free of want and despair, it didn't mean they were blessed by G-d…it just means they haven't paid the price for their atrocities yet.

    Let him without sin cast the first stone? Christians have been getting their own teachings wrong for over a thousand years. I grew up in it, btw…every faith seems to point fingers and throw stones at each other.

  8. So are you going to offer your throat to the first jihadist who yells "jihad!"? And where do you live? Safe and secure in Israel or the US? If you're in such a hurry for God's punishment why don't you move to Egypt? Or see how much luck you have in "secular" Turkey?

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