Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Is it Halachically Okay to Question G-d?
Published: Thursday, December 27, 2018 06:31:55 PM
Number of views: 1438

Last week the OU Israel Center showed a thought provoking and disturbing film called “G-d On Trial”. The film is about Jews in Auschwitz who hold a “trial” accusing G-d for allowing the Holocaust.

But over 3,300 years ago, the greatest of all prophets, Moshe Rabbeinu, also accuses and questions G-d. "Why G-D, have You brought evil on this people? Is this why You sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought evil on this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all." (Shemot 5).

G-D responds by promising Moshe, that the redemption will come, and it will overshadow all previous Divine Miracles. But in relating this, the Torah uses a name for G-D which is reserved for moments when He delivers stern judgement. The Midrash picks up on this, suggesting Divine displeasure with Moshe. While G-D is redeeming His people, Moshe's accusations and complaints are not appreciated.

Rabbi S.R. Hirsch sees in G-D's reply to Moshe a call to faith. He points out that although G-D loved our Forefathers, and made many promises to them, their lives were afflicted by infertility, suffering and famine.

G-D could have intervened to solve the problems of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, but He held back, demanding patience from His beloved Avot. G-D's plan was to forge us into a nation with free will, to experience suffering, and still have faith in G-D.

Rav Hirsch's message affirms the Talmudic statement that everything that G-D does is for the good. We must accept our limited role in the Divine Plan to build a moral and ethical world. Moshe is hurt and afflicted by the misery of the Jews in Egypt, and we sense the continuation of that suffering through Jewish history to the Holocaust and our own Arab terrorism. Moshe's question of why we suffer seems not only legitimate, but also how we feel.

For those tormented by these matters, it is the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who comes to the rescue. He appreciates Moshe's need and ours to question G-d, and empathizes with our frustration. Moshe's prophetic brilliance, says the Rebbe, brought him closer than any other human being to understanding G-D.

But even Moshe's intellectual relationship with G-D had its limitations. This made it hard for him to deal with painful situations that he could not understand or explain. According to the Talmud (Berachot 7A), Moshe never understood why good people must suffer. Like many of us who are troubled by this problem, he questions G-D, not to challenge, but to seek answers and draw closer to the Almighty.

While empathizing with Moshe's frustration and admiring his determination to fathom the will of G-D, the Torah gives G-D the last word. Moshe and us should not spend our lives frustrated by our inability to understand everything about the Divine Will. We must, says the Lubavitcher Rebbe, move on, and accept that not everything that G-d does can be comprehended.

Moshe and us must draw on our spiritual resources to overcome the intellectual gaps in our relationship with G-D. This is the lesson for us all.

According to Kabala, every verse in the Torah corresponds to a calendar years of world history. The 5,705th verse in the Torah, states “The hidden and the inexplicable happenings in life only Hashem our G-d knows why.” (Devarim 29:28) What is amazing about this verse is that the year 5705 which corresponds to this incredible verse is the secular year 1945. That is the year when the horrors of the Holocaust were fully revealed and people wondered why. ONLY G-D KNOWS WHY THE HOLOCAUST HAPPENED!

As the Talmud (Berachot 12) teaches, we have every reason to be optimistic. Because ultimately, G-D will redeem us, with a Final Redemption greater even than the Exodus of Egypt.

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