Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Attitudes Toward Tragedy

Bloghead points out an incredible article from R' Steinmetz regarding the proper attitude (at least from a Jewish standpoint) toward tragedy, in contrast to much of what has been written and said the past number of days regarding Katrina:
These finger pointing explanations are not only deeply flawed, they are also deeply insensitive. The Talmud says that anyone who gives a grieving person an “interpretation” explaining that the victim’s sins caused his own suffering has violated the prohibition of verbal abuse.
Later, R' Steinmetz brings out a wonderful analogy:
In fact, even the entire project of defending God’s goodness is suspect. First of all, God does not need a defense attorney; He can make a case for himself. And God continues to make a case for himself in every sunrise, every leaf, every breath we take...
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik offers a very different view of a Jewish response to suffering. He says the “why” question, why bad things happen to good people, is unfathomable. It’s like trying to appreciate the beauty of a tapestry from the reverse side; you simply cannot make out an intelligible design.
He also states R' Soloveitchik's attitude toward how we must deal with tragedy:
How do I respond to tragedy? We do not know why the world contains unexplained evil; however, we can endeavor to make the world a better place. Our obligation in the face of a catastrophe is to act: to comfort and aid those who have suffered, and to use human ingenuity to prevent future catastrophes. The only Jewish response to tragedy is tikkun olam, rebuilding the world.

What are we waiting for?
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Bloghead links the rest of the article here.

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