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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Where Was God When Sandy Hook’s Children Died?

Challenging God in the face of suffering is not blasphemous.
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I know he was trying to be comforting, but President Obama’s comments at Sandy Hook about God perpetuates the myth that we humans ought to always see God in the role of comforter. God is supposed to be our protector and, Biblically, we’re supposed to challenge God in the face of suffering rather than believe that innocent people dying is somehow His will.

After reading the first names of all the twenty children who were murdered, here is what President Obama said:

God has called them all home… May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place.  May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort.  And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America. 

Called them home? What? Their home is with their parents in Connecticut, not at the divine throne in heaven.

“His holy comfort”? Who wants that? We want these kids alive and well, not in some substitute comfort.

May God “bless and watch over this community.” Wait a second. Was he watching when Adam Lanza shot each of these children multiple times? And if He was, which I, as a religious man firmly believe, then why didn’t He stop it?

Obviously, this isn’t about President Obama. It’s about a prevalent and fraudulent belief in world religion, captured in the President’s otherwise moving speech, that when tragedy strikes our first impulse should be to defend God rather than rail and thunder against the injustice of it all. God’s first role is not supposed to be as our consoler-in-chief. Rather, He’s supposed to be our foremost guardian. If He could split the Red Sea than He can stop a ‪.223-caliber Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle’s bullets. If He could bring down the walls of Jericho then He could have made the walls of the Sandy Hook school impregnable to monsters. And if he could revive the dead with Elisha, then He could preserve the life of these small children.

Why God is silent and seemingly absent in the face of so much suffering is the real question about the Sandy Hook massacre. These kids were innocent. Does God not promise to protect the innocent? The Lord will protect you from 
all evil; 
He will keep your soul (Psalm 121). These kids were vulnerable. Does God not promise to guard the defenseless? The Lord is the keeper of little ones: I was humbled, and he delivered me (Psalm 116:6). These kids deserved long lives. Does God not promise to safeguard humanity? I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings (Psalms 61:4).

Judaism gave rise to the defiant man of faith, the man who, like Jacob, spars with angels and defeats them. The Jew is a child of Abraham who went so far as to accuse God of injustice when the Almighty sought to the destruction of both the righteous and the wicked of Sodom and Gomorrah at the same time. The Jew is the disciple of Moses, who thundered to God that he wished his name to be taken out of God’s holy Torah if the Creator would proceed with His stated intention of wiping out the Jewish nation after the sin of the Golden Calf. The Jew is like King David, who declares in the Psalms, I shall not die for I shall live. The Jew has achieved immortality through an impudent insubordination in the face of historical inevitability, daring to defy fate and forge an audacious destiny.

Our role in life should not be to offer empty platitudes in the face of suffering, about how the murdered children are in heaven. Rather, we have a right to demand from God that He abide by the same values and rules that He commanded us to uphold. Through Moses, He commanded us to always choose life. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live (Duet. 30:19). Must God not also choose life? Are we human beings just so much cosmic chaff that when our children are slaughtered? Are we meant just to bow our heads in silent submission?

No. The role of religion is not to make us compliant. Rather, faith galvanizes us to make the world a better place. That means fighting evil and protecting life. It means building hospitals and developing medicines. And it also means demanding of God that He show Himself in history and help us to make the world a safer place.

We can’t stop every monster-psycho like Adam Lanza. But He can. And spare me the arguments that say if God were to stop evil we would not have any freedom of choice. When Adam Lanza grabbed his mother’s guns and started over to the Sandy Hook school, he could easily have been hit by a bus and none would have been the wiser. It would not have compromised anyone’s freedom of choice.

Challenging God in the face of suffering is not blasphemous. Rather, it is deeply religious and the ultimate sign of faith. It means we believe that God controls the world, controls human fate, controls the world’s destiny, and has it in His unlimited power to make the world a happier place.

President Obama is an eloquent speaker. But rather than let God off the hook, in the face of tragedy, I would rather hear him say, “Lord, we Americans are a righteous people. We spend endless blood and treasure around the world to untie the hands of the oppressed, to protect the rights of women, and to safeguard children from terrorists. We give huge amounts of charity and Synagogues, Churches, and Mosques. We have Your holy name printed even on our money, and we have a national day of Thanksgiving to show our gratitude for Your bounty. We deserve better than to see twenty tiny, precious souls slaughtered so brutally. In the name of all that is righteous, and as the Chief Magistrate of this great nation, I ask You, I implore You, I demand of You, to protect our children, Your children, from harm, so that all the peoples of the world will see Your great hand in history and how the innocent are allowed to flourish, prosper, and grow old with children of their own.”

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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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72 Responses to “Where Was God When Sandy Hook’s Children Died?”

  1. I am sure that God is very disheartened with the way the people in this world have rejected Him. Americans have In God we Trust on their coinage, but for the most part, it is just something that has appeared for many years. I know there are sincere Christians in that country, as there are in many other countries, but for the most part, the only time God and Jesus Christ are mentioned is when it is coming out of the mouths of the blasphemers. To the Christian, when you die, you have been "called Home". You have been ushered though the gates of Heaven. These little ones would not have been at the age of understanding, so, they would have been taken into Heaven where they will now be at the feet of Jesus. How glorious that would be.

  2. Edward Lobel says:

    You need to keep your crazy thoughts to yourself or everyone will know how ignorant and crazy you really are.

  3. Edward Lobel says:

    with your extremely poor judgement, what makes you thingk you are going to be passed through the gates of heaven!

  4. I agree with Vincent Sloan, Connecticut voted overwhelmingly for same sex marriage which the Lord our God has forbidden and so they mocked Christ' suffering on Calvay who stood in the breach and took the wrath of G-d for these sins of the flesh and those outside the body. When G-d did not spare His own Son and gave Him up for us all, then maybe He hid His face from Newton Connecticut. As In Proverbs 1 23-24 It it written that He stretched out His hand, but they would none of His reproof, therefore He also would mock and laugh when calamity came upon them. Also Obama with his fake tears, condones these evil pracitices and why was he not crying for all the aborted babies which are in the thousand or even more each year. And does the lord G-d hold all life sacred? America has forgotten where their blessings came from and now are listening to a president that favours Palestine over Israel. shalom

  5. sorry I tend to disagree as God said "Jacob I loved but Esau I hated, and why did He hate Esau, was it not because he was irreverent and did not care about his birthright? are people who vote for homosexuality which is srictly forbidden in leviticus 18 verse 22, not mocking G-d by being obedient to his law?

  6. carmine one can believe in Jesus all you want, but He is not an agent of sin, He came to call people to repentance so that one could give glory and praise to the Lord God of Israel. To vote for same sex marriages and abortion is not believing in Christ who suffered on the cross for the sins of mankind, to bring us back into G-d's favour, and to mock Chris suffering, maybe the reason why G-d his His face from Newton Connecticut.

  7. but Aaron also was disobedient to the Lord G-d by fashioning a golden calf, granted he didnt have much choice as the people demanded to have him fashion the golden calf when Moses went up to Mt Sinai. shalom

  8. I dont think the Lord G-d forgot about His people as I believe the Lord G-d put it in many people's heart to save some of them, not sure though why He would save some and not others, maybe it has to do with faith and their condition of their hearts? this is just my humble opinion shalom G-d bless

  9. Because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour, and have been promised a place in Heaven. Jesus said, In My Father's house there are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. He who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ has been saved. So, I know tht I will pass through the gates into Heaven. Will you Edward?

  10. Rachel Goldring. Yes there was something wrong with what Obama said. First of a true christian does not vote for abortions and same sex marriage, as Obama condones both, I notice no tears for the unborn, and to pray to God when he deliberately condones same sex marriage is an insult to the Most High, maybe he thinks his wisdom is greater than the Lord G-d's who has forbidden same?

  11. vincent sloan How right you are and G-d bless

  12. and to rabbi Boteach I would like to say that one has to put on the righteousness of Christ as it is impossible for us to be righteous on our own. As through Christ.
    G-d sent His Holy spirit into our hearts so that we can uphold His laws as this is the new covenant G-d made with the people "I will put my laws on their hearts and their foreheads, and I will be their G-d and they shall be my people" One must read the Torah, or Old testmanent with a believing heart, and open mind and ask the Lord G-d for understanding and insight into His Word. G-d bless shalom.

  13. I am not crazy, and neither am I ignorant. I think it is you who should be classified as being in that category. What I speak is truth, and if you cannot cope with that, then I am sorry for you. God loves you and wants you for His own. He would be saddened, I am sure, with your remarks.

  14. If there ever was a god, it has been on vacation or impotent since the time of the Torah.

    Why didn't God "smite" more recent evil people like Torquemada, Stalin, Hitler, bin Laden, Dahmer, Holmes, Lanza etc?

  15. Rc Fowler says:

    Quite right Mr. Sloan!

  16. Gil Gilman says:

    Of course אֵשׁ could include gunfire. There is plenty of violence behind the scenes in Melachim A 19, mostly knife work, and one wonders what kind of massacre would have occurred if guns were in existence at that time. You could say that Elijah had a Moses like experience on the mountain. This passage illustrates to me that HaShem is not in hubbub of any kind. Why would it be necessary. In the wilderness though, He did lead them by a pillar of אֵשׁ.

    At the end of the day, the question will not be, "How little did you understand?" but, "Were you obedient?" Those with understanding, have greater responsibility. Those who think they understand must be still before HaShem, so that they may indeed hear the gentle blowing.

  17. Gil Gilman says:

    Of course [fire] could include gunfire. There is plenty of violence behind the scenes in Melachim A 19, mostly knife work, and one wonders what kind of massacre would have occurred if guns were in existence at that time. You could say that Elijah had a Moses like experience on the mountain. This passage illustrates to me that HaShem is not in hubbub of any kind. Why would it be necessary. In the wilderness though, He did lead them by a pillar of [fire].

    At the end of the day, the question will not be, "How little did you understand?" but, "Were you obedient?" Those with understanding, have greater responsibility. Those who think they understand must be still before HaShem, so that they may indeed hear the gentle blowing…

    אֵשׁ. = [fire] (formatting issues)

  18. Edward Lobel says:

    Sientje what part of President Obama is not a Muslim are you haivng difficulty understanding? By adhereing to this statement you show how ignorant and hateful youn are and that often is the cause of evil things!

  19. Edward Lobel says:

    Rc Fowler If you belive and continue to spread the lie that President Obama is a muslim then you are simply adding to the fuel that causes problems lke shooting children and creating evil!

  20. There IS NO GOD of any religious book! There is no Tooth Fairy, there is no Santa Claus, there is no Easter Bunny and there sure as hell is NO GOD…. You pray, and your prayers are not answered, you talk to the invisible man, who never answers back….. All you have is FAITH AND HOPE…. Well…. When I was a child I had faith and hope in Santa, The Tooth Fairy and The Easter Bunny….. Until as we all did one day, found out they were not real…. Well its time to grow up once again and realize you've been a victim of another hoax…. So stop expecting something that isn't real to save you and others…. Because its just not going to happen…..

  21. Why would ANYONE pray to a God for comfort when he didn't do **** to stop this…. Why would ANYONE want ANYTHING from such a worthless petty creature… No he doesn't exist, but if he did, why would anyone want to associate with such a pathetic being…….

  22. If there is a God and this was his will, I will gladly burn in an eternal pit then to EVER EVER side with a murderous selfish **** sore bastard of a god.

  23. Jo Naylor says:

    Where was G-D when the shooting took place at Sandy Hook School? They have taken G-D out of America, and asked Him to leave the schools, taken down the Ten Commandments, no Bible reading in public or prayer, they have asked Him to leave as they do not believe, so He has left; now they ask where was He? Exactly where they told Him to go, He was not wanted in their lives, and those that did want Him in their lives did not speak up on behalf of God, so remove G-D and evil takes His place that is what happened in all the school shootings in USA.

  24. There IS NOT GOD… Stop trying to tell us to believe in bull**** like Santa and the Tooth Fairy… **** Him if he does exist!!!

  25. The Sonofabitch has earned it…… IF… He is real which he isnt so theres no need to worry…

  26. He never did ANYTHING before all that happened…. And the reason WHY…. HE's NOT REAL!!! Santa Clause, The Tooth Fairy, GOD… Sorry… Theres no Invisible man….

  27. Jo Naylor says:

    God was asked to leave the schools in America, no prayer, no Bible reading, no Ten Commandments, no morality, so God left, and allowed evil to take it's place, so don't blame God He was on His Throne in Heaven watching those who told Him to leave America so they could do their own thing; when God is not wanted then evil comes in, all the killings in America in abortuaries, 55 M, all the school shootings, the shootings at Fort Hood, are all from the evil one satan who hates children and alll that is good, America needs to REPENT and turn back to God; challenging God in the face is of suffering is blasphemous, whoever keeps writing on my FB, I say get lost, for your opinions are not mine, you are demonic and you are blocked.

  28. Allan Schneider says:

    Boteach is sociopathic liar. He is a racist hater disguised as 14th century religious lunatic.

    If there is doubt left among his audience , let him walk up to any Jewish child and say the following( looking straight into his eyes)- The next time someone comes to kill ( as the Nazis did) god will save you. ( Just like did before).

  29. Roc Diaz says:

    Rc Fowler thats the point

  30. Roc Diaz says:

    dont ask where was G-d during the holocost, ask where was the jew

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