Friday, July 19, 2013


The next time I hear  "It's God's will", I shall puke on the spot.

When I was a kid, maybe 11 years old, my Dad was stricken with an illness that his doctors couldn't diagnose. He had to stop working and we were literally penniless. He reached out to his brother for help. They sat down in the living room (the parlor) and the scene that played out will forever remain indelibly etched in my brain. My uncle pulled a folded $50 bill from his pocket and handed it to my Dad. He stared at the money in his palm and suddenly began sobbing hysterically. I had never before seen him cry and, as young as I was, it tore me up inside, for his pain was mine. He was such a good guy, why, I asked myself, was this thing happening to him? Where was God?

One year later, he was in the hospital. He kept complaining that he couldn't breathe all the way in. The look on his doctor's face did not bode well. I was an only child and every time the phone would ring in our tiny apartment, my heart would jump to my throat. The vigil was frustrating and endless. My cousin was getting married and I was to be an usher at the wedding. The plan was for me to surprise my Dad at the hospital, resplendent in my debonair white tie and tails. As I was getting dressed, I remember hearing on the radio that General George S. Patton had been in an accident and had died from a blood clot in the brain. I shuddered without knowing why. The phone rang. Panic! It was the hospital advising that my Dad had suffered a blood clot and telling us to come immediately. The next two nights were spent in the waiting room on his floor. I asked the nurse if there was a place for praying. She told me that the hospital chapel was on the street level. My mother was in a wailing mood and I was purely and simply frightened. The first thing I noticed, as I entered the chapel, was a huge cross. Uh, oh! I was Jewish so how could I pray to a cross? I sat on a bench, folded my hands,  first asked God to forgive me and then began to beg Him to not let my father die. But he did, that night, and I couldn't understand why God had let me down. I was twelve tears old.

As a young man, I read a book by a theologian which attempted to address why bad things happen to good people. The author explained how frustrated he would be when asked to intervene with God on behalf of a perilously ill loved one. God doesn't have time to a give every situation on earth his personal attention, he claimed, but faith can sustain you in hard times. The book was a cop-out. He had dodged the question.

The Holocaust. Millions of innocent men, women and children ruthlessly slaughtered by a country whose national policy was to eliminate a religion from the face of the earth. Why didn't God strike Hitler dead?

Maybe the role of luck is vastly underestimated.

I find it difficult not to recognize fate as the ultimate decider of things. That way, the "why" questions are no longer formidable.. They are resolved.

Why, then, when good fortune comes my way, do I instinctively, spontaneously and immediately whisper to myself, "Thank God?"

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