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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 29, 2008 / 14 Iyar 5768

McCain, Hagee, and the Earthquake in China

By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein



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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | John Hagee doesn't have an anti-Semitic bone in his body, despite what he said about the Holocaust. It is a shame that John McCain saw fit to distance himself from him. Neither of them, nor anyone else we know, caused the earthquake in China. A common thread ties all these people and events together.

The caller to my office was not typical of those who call for assistance. He was not Jewish, and calling from an area well outside the Los Angeles vicinity.

The Kossel webcam was down, and he had the implications figured out. There are websites that allow you to place a virtual kvitel (a prayer written on a scrap of paper) in the Wailing Wall, and he used it often. Someone he was close to needed Divine assistance. What better way to ask for it than to place a request at the holy Wall?

Actually, it was a truck that needed assistance. The truck had seen better times, and its owner depended on it for a livelihood. He could not afford costly repairs, nor could he be without a vehicle in good working order. Hence, the special request from on High.

The problem was that some person or persons in China had hacked into the website, causing the Wailing Wall section to go down. A message left by the site owners made that known, but did not tell the user when service would be restored. The truck couldn't wait.

That, however, was not the reason for the urgency in the caller's voice. "Rabbi, within a few hours of the Chinese hacking into the webcam site, the earthquake struck. Rabbi, no one should mess with G-d or His Wall!"

Too many people can't bring themselves to pray for pedestrian items like a vehicle chassis. Does G-d really want to be bothered with matters of such little consequence? My caller would dismiss such concerns. His simple, genuine faith places G-d at the center of all phenomena, large and small. If it is happening, it is G-d's doing and G-d's business. Who else should be asked for assistance?

An occupational hazard of that kind of pure faith is thinking that one recognizes not only His presence, but His purpose and intent. Someone in China tampers with His earthly abode. An earthquake follows in short order. It is tempting or suggestive that they are linked, even if there is no evidence of this, and the implications about G-d's lashing out at groups for the sins of a few are frightful. (Alternatively, a terror attack takes lives in a building that did not have kosher mezuzahs, or shortly after some public desecration of the Sabbath. People whose beards connote sagacity quickly share their certainty with the public that we just know why G-d has punished those people. You don't have to be non-Jewish to make the mistake of reading G-d's mind.)

Reverend John Hagee may just be the single most important non-Jewish friend of Israel in the United States today. His reach is huge. He backs up his love for Israel with action. He is the founder and chairman of Christians United For Israel (CUFI), which runs large rallies for Israel across the length and breadth of America. Any legislator who might even think of voting against Israel's interests can receive literally millions of irate emails from concerned Christians.

John Hagee does not have to demonstrate his love for Jews and Israel. He's done that, many times over. His comments about the Holocaust are indeed problematic, but they must be seen in the context of his firm belief in history as the unfolding of G-d's Will.

Hagee spoke about a favorite topic of his: the creation of the State of Israel as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. G-d wanted so much for Jews to lay claim to their land by leaving Europe for the Middle East, that he unleashed the Holocaust, which left them no option but to establish their state.

"Then G-d sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. And the Bible says — Jeremiah writing — 'They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from the holes of the rocks,' meaning there's no place to hide. And that might be offensive to some people but don't let your heart be offended. I didn't write it, Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because G-d allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because G-d said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel."

Hagee was accused of calling Jews sub-human (only animals are hunted), and exonerating Hitler (since he was sent by G-d.) Hagee, of course, meant no such thing, any more than Pharoah was exonerated by G-d when He foretold the Egyptian oppression to Abraham. Some were eager to paint a new picture of Hagee with the blackest of strokes, hoping that Hagee's earlier endorsement of John McCain would now become a Republican burden to rival Obama's Jeremiah Wright problem. Trying to forestall this, John McCain quickly repudiated the support of John Hagee.

What is offensive about Rev. Hagee's remarks is the certainty with which he connects the dots of history. His conclusion is a logical error of the worst order. Coming after the fact does not mean that it is caused by the fact. Just because a pattern can be found does not prove its validity, even if it happens to coincide with a passage in a biblical text. It is the same error that my caller friend made. Both of them are willing to accept a picture of the Divine that runs counter to the intuitions even of the deeply religious. Without a voice from Heaven telling us otherwise, most of us could not imagine G-d allowing — indeed encouraging — the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust simply because it was a pragmatic way to end two thousand years of Jewish exile from its land.

Some were quick to go to the other extreme, and deny the role of G-d in the Holocaust at all. They are the ones who like to give G-d credit only for the pleasant things, and attribute all the bad stuff to other independent forces, like chance and natural law. Their's is an expedient — and theologically shallow — way of dealing with theodicy. G-d can't be attached to any negativity, because He has nothing to do with it. Essentially, they are dualists; their approach is thoroughly un-Jewish.

Ironically, the story broke the week of the Torah reading in which G-d's role in all kinds of unlikable events is spelled out quite clearly. This has to be one of the bravest sections of the Torah. Man has been grappling with the problem of evil since prehistory. If G-d is good, why isn't the world? According to Jewish tradition, the purpose of the book of Job was to enlighten us about G-d's allowing tragedy to strike those who don't seem to deserve it. Very few people, however, seem to have figured out what the work's bottom line is. We still await an articulation that is both intellectually and emotionally satisfying. If Judaism were not so honest, it would have eagerly bought into the platitudes so frequently touted by others. We would have shielded G-d from all the bad stuff, seeing Him as a jolly figure who occasionally deigns to intervene against a world that combines human evil with natural randomness, for which He is not responsible. The Torah says otherwise.

G-d is, of course, ultimately responsible for evil, even that committed by humans. He created those humans; He created the freedom of will that allows them to choose evil; He sustains them while they commit their evil. While He may not be the immediate cause of an evil act, He tolerates it. We do not understand why He does, but we would rather live mutely with the question than to sacrifice our knowledge of Him as ain od milvado, that nothing but nothing exists outside of His Will.

Living with questions is exasperating, but better than inventing answers that do not work (limiting G-d) or that cannot be demonstrated (finding patterns in history and insisting that we have discovered Divine truth). This is where we must part company with our good friend Reverend Hagee. We share his certainty concerning G-d's role in history; we cannot share his certainty about understanding the whys and wherefores of that role — and the awful toll Rev. Hagee's understanding would take on our conception of His mercy.

I told my caller that I would be happy to help him. If he would email his kvitel to me, I would get it to one of my children in Jerusalem who would hand-deliver it to the cracks in the Kossel the next time he visited. Perhaps I should have stopped there, and accepted his thanks. I couldn't. I gently told him that as much as I celebrated his faith, I could not agree with the ease with which he accepted G-d's lashing out at perhaps a hundred thousand Chinese because of a prank by a few bored teenagers. We should be content to understand that G-d is the cause of all things large and small, without trying to understand that which cannot be understood by mortals.

I think my caller understood. I'm prepared to try the same on John Hagee. I suspect that he will understand as well.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein holds the Sydney M. Irmas Chair in Jewish Law and Ethics at Loyola Law School and teaches senior high school girls at Yeshiva of Los Angeles

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© 2008, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein