An Open Letter to God: The Murder of Our Sons

July 6, 2014

by Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes CardozoFor the Love of Israel and the Jewish People

I search for You at dawn, my Rock and Refuge

Morning and evening will I unfold my thoughts before You

I stand overwhelmed by Your greatness

For Your eyes perceive my deepest thoughts

What can my heart and tongue do

And what strength does my spirit possess

Behold, You desire the song of man

Therefore I shall praise You as long as my divine soul is in me

 [Shachar Avakeshcha, Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gabirol]

In memory of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel

Lord of the Universe!

I ask for forgiveness, but I have no option but to speak to You with words of protest. I must tell You that it has again become very difficult to live in Your presence. In the last few weeks, we, the people of Israel, have all become one family whose sons were brutally murdered almost three weeks ago. They have become our own sons and grandchildren. We gathered together to pray for Your help as we have never done before. Millions of prayers went up to Your holy throne, pleading for their well being. There has never been unity among us as there was during these two and a half weeks. We prayed and prayed until we nearly collapsed. Religious, non-religious, and even anti-religious. It made no difference. And You failed us bitterly.

Last Tuesday morning I was of two minds about praying to You. There was too much pain. Then I wondered whether we should perhaps all go to synagogue and declare before the Aron Hakodesh (Holy Ark) that we refuse to speak to You any longer and will cease to sing Your praises.

You, God, and only you, were there when the terrorists kidnapped these boys. Why did You not slay those murderers, by heart attack or stroke? Did You lack options to prevent them from carrying out their evil scheme? Did You not owe the boys’ families, deeply religious people, Your absolute protection? On so many other occasions, in the past, You miraculously saved our children and grandchildren from similar incidents. Why did You not do the same for these families and bring the boys home safely?

I am astounded at how many people continue to utter words of praise to You. How can one still speak to You after all that happened? But then I thought, isn’t it wonderful that You have so many worshippers who are still prepared to come and speak to You, instead of throwing in the towel and deciding there is no longer any point in praising or serving You? Does that not show miraculous faith, in spite of itall?

Or, are we just hiding behind our prayers of praise, trying to escape the reality that You were there and could have prevented all this but didn’t?

What astonishes me even more is the fact that nearly no one in my immediate religious community seems to discuss the huge existential problem in what just happened. Seemingly, not one person who walked out of the synagogue was caught in a religious crisis. Or am I mistaken? Read the rest of this entry »