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Jewish Journal

“While God Weeps”

by Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

July 30, 2014 | 11:47 am

While God Weeps,

The children of Abraham continue to slaughter one another,

As it was before, so it is now, hatred and mistrust fogging our ability to see the humanity in one another.  Palestinians unable to see the humanity in Isaac, Israelis unable to see the humanity in Ishmael.

Jews unable to see the humanity in Esau, Muslims unable to see the humanity in Jacob. 

While God weeps,

The children of God, blinded by a false sense of justice and righteousness, commit the the most heinous of crimes, kidnapping and killing our children and destroying hope in the future. 

The world stands by and watches, lulled to sleep by feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, apathy and what we now call compassion fatigue. 

How long, O God, how long must we suffer?  Ancient words, present feelings, repeated stories of distant past colliding with images from the painful now. 

Moving through the pain and the suffering, we look for light, we look for safety, we seek a way out of this nightmare. 

While God weeps, waiting for us to act. 

While God weeps,

Jews wonder if the world is abandoning us, again, as crowds grow to shout us down, as vile words and anti-Semitic tirades dash our sense of acceptance and renewal, the world quickly turns dark in the places that knew the deepest darkness. 

Jews wonder, and fear, what will be?  Who will stand with us?  What have we done to deserve the hatred and bigotry that seems to follow us no matter how much we give to the world, no matter how much we contribute and help and offer and try.  Sometimes we fail, as we are human, but we have succeeded in so much good, and so we wonder. 

While God weeps, little Jewish children are in shelters, Europeans Jews are attacked, American Jews rally, yet we wonder: what will be?

While God weeps,

And here I reach across the divide to the people whose leadership seeks our destruction and offer my humanity.  Children of Gaza needlessly dying, prisoners to their failed leadership of hatred and destruction.  I can cry for them too, for I am human, I am Jewish and my values teach me that all life is sacred, all spilled blood is tragic, all death is painful. 

I refuse to shut off my valves of compassion for the other, even in the face of war, for then I become the war, I become the darkness I seek to eradicate.  I am sad and sorry that so many children are dying, God’s strength and comfort to all those grieving.  Not just my Jewish brothers and sisters, but my Arab cousins, the souls of the young not allowed to live their destiny, reach their potential.

While God weeps, so do I. 

While God weeps,

There is no peace, no leadership to cross the massive divide, the centuries old chasm that separates us from our divine ability to settle differences without war, to listen to one another, to accept another’s pain, to ask for forgiveness, to offer forgiveness.  There is evil in the world, a part of the same divine plan that allows for goodness and righteousness, and so we must fight the darkness, must stand up like Mordechai, like Esther, like Judah and like Akiva, like Moses and like Aaron.  And still, we must not become the darkness we seek to defeat, must not allow the evil to pervade our soul, must stand strong against evil while not becoming evil. 

While God weeps, we try and figure out how to do this balancing act.

While God weeps,

I pray the line from psalms, “tov adonai la’kol v’rachamav al kol ma’asav, God is good to all, and God’s compassion extends to all.”  I seek to not allow the weeping to win, the darkness to achieve victory, the hate to devour my soul and the soul of my people.  Psalms also remind me, “in the evening I lay down weeping, but with the dawn comes joy.” 

We are waiting for that dawn, we must help usher in that dawn, together, human beings of good will.  Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians, Israelis and Palestinians, Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau.  We have not come into being to hate or destroy, but we have come into being to praise, to labor and to love.

While God is weeping, we must work, we must fight, we must defend ourselves, yes, but we must defend our souls too.  While God is weeping, we can weep too.  And through the tears of pain, sorrow and desolation, may we plant the gardens of a new tomorrow.  May the weeping water the roots of a new dawn, for we can’t survive alone, in the darkness, forever.

With hope, with courage, with light and with the prayer for a better tomorrow, I say amen.

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