Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Jewish suffering is good for nothing?

Rabbi Boteach wrote a book explaining that suffering is something that shouldn’t happen. Therefore, we should not justify it. G^d wants all people to move toward an eternal life of bliss.

Because of the 45 dead + 150 wounded of Meron, he repeats this idea.

I believe he’s right and he’s wrong.

He’s right in that almost all that religious people say about suffering is wrong. Can’t any good that hardship could bring be supplied in a nicer way at least as well? And he has the clarity of mind and the guts to go against the persistent and widespread suffering myths. That is most meritorious.

He’s also right in that he challenges us to stop taking sickness and death as natural, unavoidable, and G^d-willed. Rather, we should do everything to prevent and end all human suffering and physical death. G^d gives us this chance to work with Him to perfect this world.

He’s also right in that classical Christianity is obsessed with suffering and pities Jews as the eternally suffering People. (Never mind that it itself caused most of that suffering.) Rather, we are the eternally surviving People, against all odds. And pity is often a form of arrogance.

But, at the same time, he’s wrong in that he only gave half the answers.

He’s wrong because sickness and death are good when we oppose them. It’s hard to make such a meaningful difference if the world were perfect. (But, Free Will doesn’t need Good over Evil. It can be Better over Good.) And, the flywheel weight of a fitness bike helps you to build muscle and fitness, and lose fat. With less sweating, that’s not going to happen.

He’s also wrong because resisting to succumb to hardship and pessimism builds determination, character, and discipline like nothing else. Too much ease, silver platters, kit gloves, and spoiling (never a (Divine) no) create brats, overentitlement, arrogance, ungratefulness, greed, and depression.

He’s also wrong as Rabbi Eliyahu E. Dessler reminds us that good deeds, done despite us suffering, pay a thousand times more Heavenly reward than without suffering. This is essential since, according to many Jewish thinkers, G^d’s purpose for creating the universe is to be generous.

It is not true that only after hunger you can value food and after war value peace. But they do help you to appreciate them a whole lot more.

Maybe we should more often look at the half of the glass that is full. And maybe we should mainly look at the half of the story Rabbi Boteach got right. But, only for as long as you remember it’s only half the story.

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. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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