Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

A moving picture is worth a million words

I’m not recommending watching the whole above clip. In fact, I didn’t see all of it. But it does make the point I want to make too, that video penetrates the brain much deeper than a picture or just words.


One of my rabbis is a gentle man. He’s neither an extremist nor someone susceptible to extremism from others. But one day, he comes with the concept that G^d can’t be held to the same ethical standards that apply to humans. That is strange as He tells us that He created us in His likeliness.

What made my rabbi suggest something like that? Well, he doesn’t own a TV, as we would expect. But he went to a conference and was housed in a hotel. And in his room was a TV. Being away from his daily newspaper, in all innocence, he switches on the small screen to watch the news.

But he’s not used to such deeply penetrating video. It’s like you had ear wax building up and then suddenly removed. All noises are so strong. He watches the news and gets deeply shocked. Pictures of an earthquake in China with hundreds of children dead. The quake happened under school time and many schools collapsed. How could a good G^d permit this?

He had to find an answer so he came up with the solution I quoted above.

Yet, many other less extreme answers are possible. So did it transpire the builders had cheated on the building codes. The schools did not collapse because of the earthquake but because the schools were not made earthquake-proof. When you do something careless, you can’t blame G^d.

So why did my rabbi not think of that? Firstly because the horror he saw alarmed him so that he had to react immediately, so he didn’t wait for the reports coming in about the shoddy constructions. Secondly, I guess that the sight of so many young victims was a deep test to his faith so he felt he had to find solutions. This especially because others were not so shocked (pardon the pun). They either had no TV and were spared the shock he had felt or they always watched TV and therefore were desensitized.


A very same thing we see with reports of police brutality against Black males in the US. It’s happening for generations. But now it’s caught on video. People see it and are shocked to their core. All over the world.


G^d and Joshua tell Moses (Exodus 32:7, 17-18) that the people threw off their yoke and were rebelling before he descends the mountain. But only when he actually sees them (ibid 32:19), he throws down the Stone Tables.

Seeing is more than believing. Seeing is becoming shocked.


I’m probably one of the very few who haven’t seen the pictures of the policeman kneeling on George Floyd until he was dead. I don’t need the violent pictures in my brain to be shocked, horrified, or come in action.

For me, hearing is shocking enough. I welcome this tool for awareness, the pictures and the video. But I’ve seen enough deeply disturbing stuff and don’t need any more of it. Nor do our children.

I’ve seen some heaps of emaciated corpses in concentration camps. I’ve stopped looking at them. I know enough and I’m not a masochist. I need my brain to be calm to confront evil. There is a time to be upset and there is a time to be calm. A Dutch saying goes: Calmness may save you.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry, and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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