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It seems like there is a new horrific act of violence every day in Israel. I read the newspaper or turn on the television and see the latest act of bloodshed and it sickens me. With all of these terrible acts of violence I have found myself pondering a question, why should we continue to say prayers of praise and exultation to a God who seemingly allows our brothers and sisters in Israel to be murdered? When I daven the evening service and I reach the Hashkivenu prayer I feel like I am praying to a brick wall. The prayer is asking for protection for hatred and destruction and asking god to spread a canopy of peace over us, Israel and especially Jerusalem. I find myself struggling to even recite the words of this prayer because I know that when I turn on the TV I will see another act of senseless violence. I wonder if God is even listening, does God see all of the innocent people that are being killed? It can be so difficult to connect with the liturgy of our siddur when it feels like God isn’t listening to our prayers.
It is normal to have these doubts about God and religion, the important thing to remember is that we do not give up our faith in God. We wrestle with it and ask questions but we do not say, “Well I have been saying this prayer for peace for years and there is still violence so I quit.”
While on the surface it would appear that God is not listening, in reality we need to open our eyes and our minds to see all of the ways in which God is trying to help us. God is all around us and we become too engulfed up in our own worlds and issues to see and hear God. God is all around us in the nature we see, the air we breathe, as well as the acts of random kindness displayed by people around us. If we as a people turn our back on one another how can we expect God to help us when all of us are God’s creation. We must learn that we have come in to being to love one another not to destroy or hate. If we are listening to one another and helping each other out then God will listen and be there for us. Wishing everyone well.
Remember that I will be giving a crooner concert on Saturday November 14th with a band. More details to follow.
Cantor Josh Kowitz