Thursday, November 05, 2009

Life is a Test, Revisited

Please help support the victims and the families of the mass shooting by sending a check here:

The Central Texas-Fort Hood Association of the U.S. Army
Attn.: Community Response to 11/5
P.O. Box 10700
Killeen, TX 765478-0700


God said to Abraham, want you to kill me a son
Abe said man, you must be puttin' me on
God said No
Abe said What
God said you can do what you want Abe but
Next time you see me comin' you'd better run....
Abe said where do you want this killin' done
God said out on Highway Sixty-One....

- Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman)

(If you want to hear the song, link below.)

When a great tragedy occurs, some people sometimes ask me, "What does Jewish wisdom have to say about this?"

As if that question weren't hard enough, there's usually some smart-alex who adds, "Doesn't the Talmud say that wisdom is the ability to learn from everyone? What can we learn from this mass murderer?"

Maybe that's the question for your table - what can we possibly learn from Nidal Hasan?

You know, he was a religious person of a certain persuasion, who in all likelihood believed he was doing a religiously meaningful act.

Here's the thing - we all have books. They have their book, we have our book. Even the secular humanists have their book(s). We all turn to our respective books for wisdom.

His book tells him that he is a descendant and disciple of Abraham. That means submission to God's will.

My book tells me that I am a descendant and disciple of Abraham. My book also tells me that one of Abraham's greatest traits was submission to God's will. But my book also tells me that Abraham was a complex person, and emulating him includes acting with compassion towards all people.

Hmm.... So if you want to be a good disciple, what do you do when you believe that God wants you to hurt someone?

My book tells me that we look for every loophole to avoid hurting someone (when not in self-defense).

My book also tells me that being a vigilante (acting on my own, without consulting a higher authority) leads to evil. Not just in the area of violence, but in all areas.

So whose book is right? Can they both be right? Maybe his book is "right for him" and my book is "right for me"?

But the deeper Jewish wisdom on this subject is to turn the spotlight on myself: Am I pursuing the wisdom of my book with the same passion that he is pursuing his?

We are slumbering....time to wake up.

Shabbat Shalom

2 comments:

Lisa said...

You know, he was a religious person of a certain persuasion, who in all likelihood believed he was doing a religiously meaningful act.

We have no idea what he believed he was doing.

Rabbi said...

No idea?

Many news sources report that:

Soldiers reported that the gunman shouted "Allahu Akbar!" — an Arabic phrase for "God is great!" — before opening fire Thursday, said Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, the post commander.

Moreover, he purchased the weapon weeks before.

No idea?