Open letter to my teacher and friend Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo
|De mensheid lijdt het meest
|Humanity suffers the most
|Door het lijden dat hij vreest
|By the suffering, they fear most
|Dat nimmer op komt dagen
|That never will appear
|Zo krijgt hij meer te dragen
|That never should be here
|Dan G^d te dragen geeft.
|That G^d never meant to post.
Dear Rabbi Cardozo,
You probably thought, if G^d contradicts Himself, I can do it too.
You have told us countless times that G^d is not good in the sense of what we humans understand by good. That He is not limited by that. I remember that so clearly because I disagree with it.
Which of the two is it? Is He not limited by our sense of evil, or should He refrain from what we understand as evil?
If you have the courage (and you do) to file such a lawsuit, I hereby sign up for His legal defense team.
Before such trials, judges always want both parties to put their cards on the table. Here are mine:
- To question G^d’s Goodness is not a sin. It is honest to deal with our demons (pardon the pun). G^d likes honesty. Rather, it’s a mistake. The only way to erase the error is to investigate I find that valid.
- G^d gave us a brain and intelligence. All He told us was an invitation to understand. You can’t say that His Norms are not like our norms. We are created in His likeness. If we don’t understand Him, this is not because He’s beyond us (which He “is”). We just must think
- G^d created the whole universe for humans to profit. We are invited to team up with each other and Him to perfect it. All our reward is in relation to our efforts. This is 100% fair to human standards.
- When we are uncomfortable doing good, the reward becomes 1000-fold. You can’t scold the Fitness Trainer that your muscles hurt—without that, you won’t gain from the exercises. If it wasn’t hard, it would also not be so important a job.
- He gave us a need for autonomy. Obedience is hard on us. Not only will we gain more reward for obeying, but He also ‘overlooks’ how we feel about complying before we do good. Generally, we feel mostly happy after we did well, and only that goes to our bottom line!
- One of the greatest teachers of therapy in the world in the previous century, Harvey Jackins, famously said: “It is better to live in great pain for only a short while than never having lived at all.” This is his conclusion after listening to the worst suffering We are supposed to feel terrible when we see terrible suffering (empathy) brought on by nature or human nature and be extra motivated to do something about it. Declaring life worse than death is not part of that.
- The greatest Evil in the world is human death. Any human death. (Not just of babies!) We’re all created innocent. We’ve all always done the very best we could, if you take all circumstances into account, so we deserve no punishment. Most of us know we are overall innocent. (The others are mistaken.) Discomfort is only unfair if you see it as punishment or a lack of reward. You don’t need to take it like that.
- But as long as life gets us sick and needy, the recent new creation of the Sandwich Generation shows G^d’s wisdom and mercy in having our parents and grandparents die so we can spend all our energy on raising the next generation. He has promised us numerous times and in numerous ways that in the end, physical healing and immortality will reign. And he invites us to team up with Him to get there. Medical Science is doing it. Everybody knows: “If the end is well, all is well.”
- If life was already perfect (including humans), we would have no self-earned reward; physicians could not heal, no one could repent, etc. There is no greater reward than being able to perfect our character traits and behavior. Then, don’t complain if it was worse before.
- I’m not denying that, at times, we can feel abandoned by G^d and humanity. However, some of us live long enough through tragedy to have the pain diminished and even understand what good it did.
- If we manage to exterminate all humans (in wars, climate destruction) that would be a waste. But, no doubt, G^d will show new intelligent life what not to do. There is no proof that now, all is lost.
- Just human law must be a statement of society saying: you should have done better (not: you could have). It is to hold up moral ideals. It does not take revenge. We’re all innocent and good. A rabbinic Grand Court that would give out more than one death penalty in 7 (or even: 70) years is a bunch of murderers, tell us the Sages. G^d obligates us to put exceptionally wicked capital cases on trial—and to look for ways to exonerate the alleged perpetrators. That’s how dear life is.
- The idea of a stern G^d is not a Jewish concept. Thousands of years living among Christians (too scared to pray directly to Him) and Muslims (terrified to disobey) made this faulty notion creep into Judaism (assimilation). G^d is good, fair, mild, and nice in the long run and the best Buddy we could have now.
Who wants to join the defense team?
May the Best win!