Maybe It’s OK To Not Know Why

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Maybe It's OK To Not Know Why

Using religion as a means of explaining calamity is an outright defiance of belief in God

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Daniella English is the author of the acclaimed blog The Not So Single Life

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We give meaning to calamity by offering ourselves reassurance. We comfort ourselves with the knowledge that there is a pre-destined grand plan; that life is not just flurries of chaos arbitrarily floating into a blizzard. Everyone is searching for meaning in the face of this pandemic, asking where, how, when and mostly why. We are looking for something or someone to create calm in this storm of madness. Many have turned to Judaism for this solace, finding comfort in the rituals and structure religion provides. This can be soulful. But danger surfaces when religion is used to ascribe the purpose and intent of calamity to mortals.

I was 17 when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I remember saying to my father, “God only gives you what He thinks you can handle, so I guess this is a kind of a backhanded compliment.” I was looking for meaning in my new diagnosis – meaning that would bring me closer to God, and closer to myself. Looking for intent with my new chronic illness would have been me blaming my defunct pancreas on that one time I stole a horoscope from Shoppers Drug Mart when I was 11.

Using religion as a means of explaining calamity is an outright defiance of belief in God. Implicit in belief is trust. We trust that we do not know everything, just as we believe God does. To say that we know why the world is upside down is in direct opposition to the belief that God runs the show. The reality is that we have no idea. We are lost. We are pointing to our siblings in blame the same way my kids readily throw their youngest brother under the bus when they perceive my anger.

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When we say that God has plagued us with Covid-19 because women are dressing immodestly, or because men are partaking in homosexual activity, we are taking the role of God into our own hands. We turn our relationship with God into one of fear of punishment, instead of desired closeness. The stark reality is that we don’t have the answers to life anymore than I do to my daughter’s math work. To be clear, I know neither of these.

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There is space in Judaism for punishment, but God is not cruel. He does not punish us as a manifestation of his anger. I don’t take away my son’s cellphone as a punishment because I am angry at him for being on TikTok at midnight, when his phone was supposed to be in my room at 10:30 pm. I take it away for him to learn boundaries and respect. My anger manifests itself when I am in my room alone eating chocolate and talking to my friends about how I’m messing up my kids. I can just imagine all the Gods of the world sitting around, drinking wine, lamenting over their ‘children’ and worrying if they’re indulging them or being too hard on them.

The ultimate open display of dedication to God, is acceptance. That means accepting we have no idea why things are happening; and accepting that it is upon us individually to implement change within ourselves, and not to point a finger elsewhere. Acceptance holds space for both the good and the bad to coexist. A genuine relationship with God does the same thing. It holds space for the best and worst of us. But when we relate to God only in terms of reward versus punishment, we degrade the beauty of that relationship – relationship that allows us to make mistakes and make amends. A relationship that holds space for the best and worst in all of us. But mostly, a relationship that motivates us to do more because we are loved so wholly and completely by God and in turn, ourselves.

Daniella English is the author of the acclaimed blog The Not So Single Life. She has written for various publications such as Savvymom and the CJN, and is now a columnist with TheJ.ca. She has been featured on What She Said Talks and The AM 640 Dating and Relationship Show.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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