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Why do horrible things happen to good people?

Some things are so horrific that they can only be called evil. The Holocaust. The Hamas Massacre of October 7th, the new Holocaust. There aren’t enough words to convey the full extent of the horror. Words like “atrocity” are just too small and the question arises: where was God when these unspeakable events occurred?


Many people mistakenly assume that the trial of God by Jews in Auschwitz is an allegory rather than an actual event.

Elie Wiesel once declared: “I was there when God was put on trial. It happened at night; there were just three people. At the end of the trial, they used the word chayav, rather than ‘guilty’. It means ‘He owes us something’. Then we went to pray.”

Then we went to pray.

Fast forward to the Holocaust of October 7th. Head of the Southern district of ZAKA, Yossi Landau, described their own “trial”, in the devastated Kibbutz Be’eri.

ZAKA, Israel’s “Disaster Victim Identification” experts are volunteers who collect bodies in cases from car accidents to terror attacks. They are motivated by the belief that the dead deserve sacred respect. Burying them whole and with dignity honors the soul of the departed and recognizes the sacred spark of God that gives life to every human being.

The massacre occurred under the cover of a missile bombardment from Gaza. The search for survivors and the collection of bodies began before the massacre was over, while soldiers were still fighting the terrorists, while missiles were raining down on Israeli communities.

In one of the homes Yossi Landau, described an unfathomable scene.

The family’s dining table was in the middle of the room. On one side of the room, they found the bodies of a father and the mother. They were kneeling on the floor, their hands tied behind their backs. On the other side, as if in a mirror image, a little girl and boy approximately six and seven years old.   

The father had an eye gouged out. The mother had one of her breasts cut off. The boy had several of his fingers chopped off. The little girl, they chopped off her foot.

And after all that the terrorists sat at the table and ate the food the family had prepared for their holiday meal.

Yossi Landau explains that he feels as if the bodies speak to him, telling the story of their death. Although highly experienced in dealing with death but the joyous cruelty evident in this scene was overwhelming to him and his team.

The horror of what this family experienced was so evil, it was like a wall that could not be passed and yet, it needed to be passed in order to grant these souls the dignity of a proper burial.

Yossi Landau described this scene in many interviews. Only in a few did he describe how they dealt with this horror.

He collected himself and told his team to hold hands. They walked into the room. There was blood everywhere. They sat down in the middle, with the bodies and the table with the remains of the meal and they sang a Jewish song:

“I believe With complete faithIn the coming of the Messiah.

And even though he may tarry, With all this, I will still wait for him.I will wait for him every dayMay he come.”

And then they got up and began attending to the bodies.

This was just one of the first houses. There were many more to check and no way to know what they would find there.

Where was God amidst this evil?

In Judaism, there is a concept of God “hiding His face”, as if stepping out of the story. That doesn’t mean that God is gone or stops caring, it means that we can’t feel the connection to Him. It is perhaps like a parent who steps out of the room to see how the children work out their problems by themselves.

The Jews in Auschwitz judged God and found him “owing” – and then they went to pray.The Jews in Be’eri sat down in the blood of our tortured family – and sang their faith in the coming of the Messiah.

This is the unfathomable faith of the Jewish People in the face of horror. It is the strength of a People broken, yet still standing – the mysterious factor that leads to deep confusion about Jews.

Who are these people, victimized yet refusing to be victims?

Many conclude that the evil we face must not be so bad – because who could get up again after that?!

Broken yet still standing. God, not guilty but “owing”. We are still here and, even in the midst of the blood of our tortured family members, can sing of faith in the coming of the Messiah – not here but with hope for a better future.

{Reposted from the author’s blog}


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Forest Rain Marcia 'made aliyah', immigrated with her family to Israel at the age of thirteen. Her blog, 'Inspiration from Zion' is a leading blog on Israel. She is the Content and Marketing Specialist for the Israel Forever Foundation and is a Marketing Communications and Branding expert writing for hi-tech companies for a living-- and Israel for the soul.