Exploring Jewish Traditions For Dealing with Tragedy By Rabbi Morey Schwartz (218 Pages)Publisher: Gefen Publishing, 2010
At one time or another every person of faith asks himself questions like these: What must I do to deserve some Divine intervention in my life? Is there anyone really listening to my prayers? When do miracles happen, and when do they not? Where s my miracle? Am I not worthy? Here is a fresh, new, thought-provoking approach to the eternal mystery of the miracle, based on the multiple texts found in Jewish tradition as well as lessons learned from experience. The Al Aksa Intifada and its bloody consequences serve as backdrop for the many important messages about belief contained in this book. The Intifada forced Jews and rabbinic leaders to actively confront the difficult philosophical questions that arose in the wake of continual, random acts of violence in Israel. Having made aliyah just weeks before the onset of the bloody violence, the author took note of the reactions of survivors and spiritual leaders throughout the years of violence and was struck with the pat, simplistic, and often not-well-thought-out reactions and explanations offered by Israeli spiritual leaders to give meaning and purpose to the violence. Rabbi Morey Schwartz, an only child, orphaned by age twenty, has spent more than twenty years searching for a satisfying answer to his personal misfortune. Searching traditional Jewish responses, he never found a response that addressed his need to believe in a benevolent, merciful and all-powerful divine being, while simultaneously honoring what he considers his right to understanding. To believe in a God that was less than all-powerful seemed pointless, and to accept that we just cannot understand seemed to be meaningless. The author, is a graduate of Yeshiva University and Bernard Revel Graduate School, and musmach of the Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan Theological Seminary. During his twelve years in the American rabbinate, helping others to deal with suffering and loss, the author found himself expressing a refreshing theological approach to this question, one which has helped countless individuals work through these difficult issues in their own lives. The book provides a look at the way the sages dealt with the suffering of the innocent throughout the centuries, providing the reader with easy to read rabbinic texts arranged in a text and counter-text format, for the purpose of presenting multiple Jewish approaches to some very difficult questions. In addition, the author provides a new, inspiring way of looking at the whole business of miracles. The age-old idea that miracles arise for those who deserve them is reconsidered, and a whole new perspective on the function and incidence of miracles is proposed. Any person of any faith will want to read these words and ponder the Divine s role in our lives, in the good times and the bad. This book will become a source of great comfort to Jews looking for alternative Jewish approaches to suffering and to God s role in suffering. This book is a must for those who counsel, for they above all need to be sympathetic to the deep sensitivities of those who seek consolation.