July 21, 2008

Angry With G-d

This morning marked the fourth anniversary of my father's triple bypass. Two days later my daughter was born. It was the culmination of a very difficult period of time for me.

All of this has been discussed and dissected here more than once. I discussed some of those thoughts in a post called I Yelled At G-d.

Today I am here again with a new post called Angry With G-d. I suppose that this is one of those posts where I shake out the cobwebs and try to make sense of a few things that are bouncing around inside my head.

I don't believe that you'll find anything unusual here. I am not the first person to feel these things and I won't be the last. I am not offering ideas or solutions because I think that it is an individual matter.
(Side note) Before I get any farther into this I need to give proper credit to my chevrusa The Rebbetzin's Husband. The good rav's post Of Synagogue Dress Codes and Dress-Up Judaism set me off on this particular ride through the dark. To be clear, I had intended to write an entirely different post than this one, and may still do so. But that remains to be seen.
And here we go:

Someone I care very much for and I have been wrestling over multiple issues. I don't expect or need for them to agree with me on all of them. It really doesn't bother me whether they agree or not. Most of the time I appreciate the back and forth of the debate. It is good to be challenged.

One of the on going discussions we have is whether there is a G-d. At this stage they have decided that they are an atheist. I can tell you why I believe in G-d. I can give you a list of reasons but they're not the kind that are likely to bowl you over and make you shout hallelujah.

They call it faith because it requires a suspension of disbelief. I have gone through periods of time in which I didn't believe. I have moments now where I shake my head and wonder what the hell I am doing. Moments where I do the proverbial fist shaking at the sky and consider myself to be a fool.

Let me provide you with a list of some of the experiences I have had during my short 39 years on the big blue marble.

I know two people who were murdered.
I can name five friends who died from the complications brought on by brain tumors. None of them lived past 34.

I have a baby cousin who is fighting off a brain tumor right now. She is all of 26. At the moment she is doing well, but the odds are not good.

I have another dear friend who is fighting off a rare form of cancer. The docs don't know what the outcome will be, but she wonders if she'll live to be 40.

Then there is the list of those who died in accidents, motorcycle, DUI, biking in Europe, seizure in the bathtub and more.

And that my friends is the incomplete list. It doesn't include the blog friends who have lost their children.

In short I could share much more information with you about these tragedies. I have a strong enough command of the language to paint a picture that provides the background on these souls and how these events have impacted those who loved them.

It would be improper to claim that I was exceptionally close with all of them. It is important to note that those with cancer come from all over the country. I can't point to one central location that had radioactive fallout or exposure to carcinogens for being the source of their illnesses.

But I can tell you that I find it to be senseless. I can say without hesitation that I hate responses where people tell me that we just don't understand G-d's plan. It is a cop out. It is a weak excuse that works for some people because you can just shrug your shoulders and say well, there is a reason.

I don't buy it. I don't believe it. I can't accept it. I don't need to have answers to everything. I want to. I want a crystal ball. I want to know if the decisions that I make today are good or bad. I want to know so many things.

And so I go back to faith. I yell at the thing/person/force/whatever that we view as our higher power and say the following: "Some of this is FUCKED UP. I don't apologize for cursing. I don't feel badly, not one whit.

If I look at our liturgy, if I dig into the lessons I have learned, the tefillot and believe in rachmones, believe in love and kindness than I can do that and be ok.

Because if I have faith that there is a G-d than the one I believe in isn't going to cast me out for being angry, asking why or railing on about the injustice. Am I supposed to sit back during the Three Weeks and not do any of these things.

Am I supposed to be a human being or an automaton. I know what my answer is. I know what I believe...today that is.

Life is filled with so many different events and changes. I can't say that one day I won't change my mind about this or that I will. All I can do is wake up and see what the day brings.


Elie said...


Thanks for a very moving and powerful post. I respect your perspective even though I tend towards a different conclusion.

Like you, I do find it terribly painful and frustrating to not be able to understand why such horrible things happen to those who don't deserve them. But I don't feel the concept of a Divine plan beyond our comprehension is a "cop out... a weak excuse" as you dismissively state. Rather, I accept that God's essence is infinitely beyond human ability to assimilate, and thus by the same token, His plan for the world is also inherently inscrutable. In fact, I kind of feel that any less transcendent a God wouldn't be worth believing in, let along worshiping.

That doesn't mean that "yelling at God" is sinful or pointless. If it helps us bear the burdens we are give, I think it can be helpful and cathartic. In fact, maybe sometimes God *wants* us to yell.

Jack said...

Hi Elie,

I have been trying to formulate an appropriate response. I understand the how and why of what you said.

But I still find it hard to process.

judi said...

Jack, I read your post with a great deal of empathy. Coincidentally, July 21 was the 13th anniversary of the day that an incredible medical team kept my son and I alive so he could be born and I could see him. My grandfather held on long enough to kvell at his bris before he, himself passed away. On Saturday, we celebrate my son's Bar Mitzvah. When I try to fit my feelings about God into this equation, I find I just can't.

Jack said...

Hi Judi,

That is quite a story.