The Silence of God

I think of myself as a very spiritual person. I pray every morning with tallit and tefillin and I speak directly to God with my very own personal prayers from my heart and soul.

Yet I cannot honestly say that I am a believer in “emunah shelemah”… perfect faith. Here at a time when the whole world faces extinction due to an unknown and untreatable virus, can our prayers truly be accepted and answered?

How is it possible for God who remained silent while six million of His people were murdered in the Holocaust, who did not save them when He heard their cries for help… how then can He save us from the deadly pandemic which will claim many millions of lives?

Our rabbis implore us to read chapters of tehillim from the Psalms of King David. They are beautiful words. They are comforting words. But the words alone cannot save us from extinction.

In my prayers I ask Hashem to bless and to protect the diligent medical staffs and care-givers who risk their own lives in an effort to save other lives.

I implore Him to show His Mercy and Compassion upon the sick and dying. He is our greatest Physician and Healer and in Him I put my trust. But trust and faith are not exactly the same thing.

Very observant ultra-Orthodox Jews who pray to Hashem three times daily are dying from the coronavirus by the thousands every day. Jerusalem and Bnai Brak are presently the biggest death traps in our country in spite of the fact that more than eighty percent of the populations are devoutly religious.

I do not accept that this deadly virus was sent to the world by the Hand of a Loving God. It began with one individual person in a city in China who ate a diseased bat and transmitted the poisonous virus throughout his city, country, and eventually the entire world.

More than one hundred countries, particularly on the European continent, are once again suffering from another medieval black plague. Cemeteries are overfilled with corpses. There is little ground remaining for burials. Cremations are replacing in-ground burials.

Jewish funerals are restricted to no more than ten people at a funeral. The traditional seven day period of shiva must be observed by the immediate mourners but without any shiva visitations from other well-meaning family and friends who wish to express condolences. Painfully, the mourners are left to mourn alone.

We have not known such a tragic disease for many centuries. Likewise we do not know the cure by a yet undiscovered vaccine.

So we are left to pray alone, to cry aloud, to a Benevolent God who remains silent. He may hear us but He does not respond.

One of the greatest of our scholars, Moshe ben Maimon, known as Maimonides (Rambam), was born in the year 1138 in Cordoba, Spain and died in 1204 in Fustat, Egypt and was buried in his tomb in Tiberias, Israel.

Among his greatest written works is the Shlosha Asar Ikkarim, his thirteen principles of the Jewish faith.

They are included in the chanting of Yigdal sung in synagogues throughout the world.

They begin with two words, “Ani Maamin”, I believe (and “emunah shelemah”, perfect faith) is required.

Yet in all the principles of faith there is no mention of God as Physician or Healer. No mention of the ill. Only a final mention of the resurrection of the dead at the end of days.

Can it be possible that the end of days is approaching in our lifetime?

I believe in God the Creator of all things. But I do not know if my faith (emunah) is perfect (shelemah).

I only pray that God’s silence will end. That His voice may be heard and His healing compassionate.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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