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Saying America was Punished with Sandy Hook is Blasphemous

There is nothing beneficial that comes from suffering that could have not been achieved far more effectively through a positive means.
sandy-hook-memorial

Photo Credit: Memorial for Sandy Hook victims

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On CNN last week, I was asked by Ashleigh Banfield to respond to the comments of Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association who suggested that Americans were to blame for the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, because they had abandoned God.

“The fact is that is the ultimate statement of heresy,” I said. “This is not a religious man… Not only is he [Bryan Fischer] wrong that we kicked God out of our lives, the United States and the American people are the most righteous people in the world. We have spent endless blood and treasure to defend complete strangers, women from being beaten up by the Taliban. Our soldiers died for those people. God is on our money. We give more charity than any nation on earth. We deserve better. I am tired of people maligning the American people and saying we deserve to suffer. This is the most religious country in the Western world.”

The Raw Story reported that this sentiment is becoming widespread. “Numerous figures on the Christian right, including James Dobson and Mike Huckabee, have linked the horrific mass killing of 20 young children to issues such as prayer in school, abortion and same sex marriage. They claim these issues prove the United States no longer respects God.”

A day later, Fischer struck back on his radio show, claiming I had ‘demonized’ God:

“Shmuley Boteach, a Jewish Rabbi and  [CNN] gives him ample air time to demonize both God and me! So he demonizes God, this whole thing is God’s fault. We need to defy God. We need to challenge God. We need to demand of God. We need to blame this on God. He’s all powerful, could have stopped it, and he didn’t do it, and its His fault.”

“It’s interesting,” Fischer continued in his attack, “that… the theology I’m drawing from is from the Old Testament… I wonder whether he has read his own bible.”

Well, Mr. Fischer, I have read. We don’t call it the Old Testament, as there is nothing old or outdated about it. We call it the Hebrew Bible and this is what it says: “The hidden things are for God to understand, but the revealed things are for us and our children.” Why God allows good people to suffer is a secret known to him. But we human beings ought to have no interest in knowing the secret. What we want, what we demand, is that the suffering stop completely so that God and humanity can finally be reconciled, after a long history of human travail and agony, in a bright and blessed future, bereft of suffering, absent of tragedy, and filled with blessing.

In the face of catastrophes there are always those who are trying to divine the mind of God when really their role as humans is to argue with God. That’s exactly what the name Israel means, He who wrestles with God. Isn’t that what Abraham does with the news of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, where he raises his fist to the heavens and proclaims, “Will the judge of the entire earth not Himself practice justice?” Would God really allow the righteous to die along with the wicked?

Is this not also what Moses says to God after he is told that the Jews will be annihilated for the sin of the Golden Calf? If you do so, says the great prophet, “then I beseech you, erase my name from the Torah You have written.”

And when God had earlier sent Moses to free the Jews from Egypt but Pharaoh had instead intensified their suffering and servitude, Moses, defiant, says to God, “Why have you behaved wickedly to this people, and why have you sent me… You have thus far not saved Your people.”

And, in the New Testament, as I argue in Kosher Jesus, Jesus does the same thing. Dying on the cross, he cries out in agony, “My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?” He is defiant against the death sentence imposed on him by the brutal and wicked Romans. He asks why God has not intervened to rescue him.

The role of human beings in the face of seeming divine miscarriages of justice is to hold God accountable and demand clemency for humanity. God is all powerful. He does not need a defense attorney. But humans are fragile and vulnerable and they need all the protection they can get.

Our role as humans is not to understand God’s plan in the face of horror and tragedy, but to challenge God and demand that human life always be protected and preserved.

Did I say demand? Yes, humanity has rights before God. We are His children. He commanded us to preserve and promote life always. “Choose life,” Moses orders. And the Creator abides by the same dictates He expects His creatures to.

What kind of warped morality and fraudulent religion would say that God allows the slaughter of children because there are no prayers in public schools? With this insipid argument, is Fischer offering a defense or an indictment of God? Would this make you want to pray to and worship a God who looks askance as children are blown away by an assault rifle as punishment, Fischer says, for the actions of their government?

I have grown weary of those who say that suffering is somehow redemptive, that it carries with it a positive outcome. I do not deny that this is at times so. Those who suffer can sometimes emerge humbler, wiser, gentler. But there is nothing beneficial that comes from suffering that could have not been achieved far more effectively through a positive means. To the contrary, suffering leaves us broken and cynical, disbelieving and forlorn, miserable and depressed.

I visited Sandy Hook this week. As I got closer to the school, I felt in my bones a palpable sense of evil, that something monstrous had taken place there and it gave me the chills. Stop telling me that the American people are so wicked that they deserve this.

Never again should we say that Israeli soldiers die because Kibbutznikim eat rabbit and other non-kosher meat, as a prominent Rabbi once suggested. And never again should we say that the Jews of the holocaust died because they wanted to cease being Jewish, choosing to be German instead.

Because I am disgusted with this kind of thought, I wrote The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. But I could not have divined that more and more of my beloved Christian brothers and sisters would continue to say publicly that innocent children die because America is a sinful place.

Enough is enough.

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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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8 Responses to “Saying America was Punished with Sandy Hook is Blasphemous”

  1. Tzvi Fishman says:

    This article and the nonsense it sets forth are a stain on a Jewish publication as distinguished as The Jewish Press. In the days of The Jewish Press founder, Rabbi Shalom Klass, and Rabbi Meir Kahane, may their memories be for a blessing, this dribble would never have been published. How the generations have fallen!

  2. Rc Fowler says:

    Boteach is an ignorant fool–he has a profound lack of understanding–he should not be writing on here!

  3. Rc Fowler says:

    Mr. Fishman–I agree!

  4. Roc Diaz says:

    gay marrage. like sodom and gomorah, anytime a government sanctions injustice and wrong doing and imorality, expect that there will be a price to pay.

  5. Paul Mullins says:

    Even a shallow review of the Old Testament documents many examples of cultural depravity of flourishing evil, followed by God removing His protective hedge from Israel because of their prolonged sins against God. God never creates evil, but He uses evil to punish evil. He unleashed His wrath against Israel by "allowing" the pagan nations to overrun Israel in battle, and suffering consequences.

    For those with discernment, there have been many signs confirming that God is removing His protective hedge from around America. We have ignored many harbingers of God's chastisement (apostasy, spiritual blindness as prophesied , and minds reprogrammed by the enemy, prevent recognizing these signs for what they are).

    One need only examine the ethics, morals and moral relativism, character, behaviors of our culture at large, including suppression of Christianity and its symbols, the esteeming of sexual abominations, the church subdued by worldly culture.

    God is in control of all things. He raises up and He tears down. He kills and He heals.God is sovereign. He makes his angels wind and fire.

    The first election of Obama as president foretold of national chastisement; only question was "to what extent?" Despite pockets of intercessory prayer, there was no national repentance (per 2Chr 7:14 ). Thus Obama's second presidential election victory, foretelling of increasingly more severe chastening of America and the world at large (due to maturing of Satan's globalism).

    BYPRODUCTS OF OUR CULTURE: Mass killings in schools, shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, homicide of unborn babies at the rate of 120 per HOUR (to fire god Moloch), marginalized human life, botched abortions live birth babies set aside in a back room to die from neglect, agitators for national disunity, class warfare, racism, exaggerating difference and overlooking commonality, hate mongering, secret presidential executive orders giving himself dictatorial powers and abolishing individual rights and liberties, standing order for crushing citizen protests by military force, by merely declaring a "state of emergency." That's all it takes to destroy the first-of-its-kind self-governance system in the history of mankind (facilitated by Almighty God to demonstrate His Grace and lovingkindness); a light to the nations! Now that light is being snuffed out and voters applauded! A sign of the times.

    If Obama is as effective his second term as his first, the U.S. economies (and other nations as well) will have collapsed in preparation for a "savior" to arise from the ashes. a dictator.

    Obama is the world's next interim 'Adolph Hitler.' Both came to power legally.
    It is said that a people get the government they deserve.
    There are difficult times ahead, from any perspective.

  6. Thanks Rabbi – I agree completely. Don't listen to those who criticize you here.

  7. Bo Teach nothing new. This is heresy.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The recurring questions which haunts survivors and their children echo through the halls of time. “Why didn’t they fight back? Why did they enter the chambers of death like sheep to the slaughter?” By our standards, such actions as placidly lining up against a wall to be shot or walking silently into the gas chambers or standing nude and obedient at the edge of a ravine filled with blood-covered bodies awaiting one’s own turn to die, defy all understanding. Indeed, anti-Semites would suggest that Jews were different, somehow not quite as brave, not quite as courageous as the average person. Our enemies will even conclude that the Jews were guilty of the crimes they were accused of, and hence with heavy conscience and accepting the punishment for their “crimes,” the Jews quietly submitted to their deserved punishment.

    Nothing could be a greater falsification of the truth. The hopelessness seen in their faces was not a reflection of guilt; rather it was a realization that they had been completely deserted and betrayed by humanity. The light of morality, conscience and brotherhood had been completely extinguished and for them life became a terror-filled abyss. Responsibility for their death clearly lies with the Nazis and their collaborators.

    Warsaw Ghetto uprising lasted as long as France’s resistance against Germany…Until a Jew is convinced that he or she is going to die anyway, armed resistance is suicide and suicide is not a goal. That applies to all Jews, regardless of religious leanings…dying with a weapon in your hand had meaning…The overwhelming majority of the resisting Jews were not trained soldiers, with almost no weapons and very little information, and had no idea what they were doing, yet, what they accomplished is incredible, if you think of the sabotage they carried out and other things, in all respects, not just in military terms.

    מרד

    Not all Jews went "as sheep to slaughter," as they engaged in uprisings and breakouts at camps, death pits and mass murder sites, as well as attacks on the German military. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

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