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My Son Speaks to G-d But He Doesn't Answer

Ben Zoma would say: Who is wise? One who learns from every man. As it is written: “From all my teachers I have grown wise, for Your testimonials (eidosecha) are my meditation.”

Ethics of the Fathers, 4:1

During the past year or so my son and I have spent large chunks of time discussing many different issues, thoughts and ideas. I work hard to give him answers that are appropriate for his age and stimulate his mind. He deserves nothing less.

Of course it won't be long before his little sister is old enough to ask the same questions and we get to run through it all again. Lately his questions have focused on G-d and what happens when we die.
BOB DYLAN - Forever Young Lyrics
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.
This evening he asked me why G-d doesn't respond when he talks to him. It is a good question and it is based in part on his having been told by his parents that when people speak to him he needs to look at whomever is speaking to him when he responds.

This should serve as a good explanation for why he told me that he thinks that G-d is rude. It was somewhat of a coincidence that he brought this topic up today as it was touched upon here.

"So you can understand how I began to take for granted that if only enough people would get together and say 'pretty please with sugar on top', G-d would have no choice but to answer prayers offered by such a determined mob.

What I failed to realize is the old truth that although He always answers our prayers... sometimes the answer is 'no'."

I appreciate the sentiment, but I disagree with it. As I said there it really rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it is because I find it to be far too simplistic and too easy. I have to admit that for a moment I thought of feeding that to my son, but instead I opted for my old standby.

"What do you think?"

I have found it to be a good tool. It allows him to consider potential reasons for why things are the way they are and it gives me a chance to measure my response against his.

So per my son here are some potential reasons why G-d doesn't answer:
  1. He is watching Scooby Doo on television.
  2. He is going potty.
  3. He is not home.
  4. He got a timeout.
  5. He is speaking with his mommy.
I took a moment to consider how to respond and then suggested that we might want to consider something else. Just as I was about to broach what that could be his baby sister came rolling into the room. With a squeal and a giggle she launched all 24 pounds of herself at him

I think that it was supposed to be a hug, but it ended up as more of a tackle/takedown. As she hit him from behind she caught him completely unaware and he smacked his head when he fell.

My inclination was to make a smartass remark about his having seen G-d among the stars circling his head, but I didn't. I even managed to restrain myself from telling him that his future wife would find him in a similar fashion. You know, that is how it works. We men walk around thinking that life is fine and then suddenly we are captured and bound by women. That is a story for a different post.

In any case, the takedown prematurely ended the conversation so I now have the evening and most of tomorrow to consider how I should respond to this. It is not easy coming up with an appropriate response. I am really going to have to think about it.

Comments

westbankmama said…
Now I can't wait for the "how I met Mrs. Jack" post...
Anonymous said…
A suggestion. perhaps you could use the example of his sister's enthuisastic hug as to how G-d's answer to our prayers at times can be very subtle and at times hit us upside the head!
cruisin-mom said…
I think G-d is watching American Idol.

Jack, his answers were so sweet. I don't think you need to add anything to it...sounds like he's figured it out.
bornfool said…
Great post, Jack. I enjoy the inquisitiveness of your son. My sons are 17 and 21. They know everything now. Just ask them.
Jack Steiner said…
WBM,

That is a long tale.

Sea,

I'll try that.

Randi,

He definitely has his ideas.

BF,

I remember how I was at those ages, probably no different.
Anonymous said…
There are several midrashim on how God spends his time. Sometimes he is playing "fetch" with the Leviathan. (That's his doggy, apparently.) Sometimes he is listening to the angels sing. If he were to stop listening, the angels would get quite annoyed and perhaps stop singing. Those who have heard them say this would be a great loss.
Kiwi the Geek said…
FWIW from a Christian, I believe that God always answers prayer, but not by speaking audibly. He answers by influencing our emotions or mental state, by leading us to a Bible passage, by the words or actions of another person, by things that happen in his providence, etc.
Jack Steiner said…
Mirty,

I kind of like that.

KWG,

It could be.