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The Commandment Pat Robertson Forgot

Either we have all become prophets or everyone has forgotten the third commandment.

Based on the Rev. Pat Robertson and Israel’s Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s prediction rate, I am inclined to think the latter. Repeatedly throughout the Bible we are told, Do not use God’s name in vain.

Yet, for religious people today, God has become a “shmatta” (a dirty cloth used to wipe up disasters and messes). All over the world God’s name is invoked to clean up that which is beyond our control.

Here are a spattering of some recent pronouncements made about God’s involvement in X, Y, and Z all said with the straightest face and with supreme certainty.

On Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s illness:


Bill Clinton: His illness “puts yet another obstacle in the path of the peacemakers,” Clinton said. “It’s almost as if God were testing them one more time to rise again, to keep on.”

Pat Robertson: “He was dividing God’s land, and I would say, ‘Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America,'” Robertson told viewers of his long-running television show, “The 700 Club.”

On Hurricane Katrina:

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: The founder and spiritual leader of Israel’s Shas party, declared, “The hurricane is God’s punishment on George Bush” for the Gaza pullout.


Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America: The hurricane was sent by God because New Orleans was a city given to holding events at which it was common to find “drunken homosexuals engaging in sex acts in the public streets and bars.” In a statement released by his group, Marcavage was quoted as saying, “We must not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long. May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits…This act of God destroyed a wicked city. New Orleans was a city that opened its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. May it never be the same.”

Al Qaeda: The hurricane in America was the “wrath of God…God attacked America and the prayers of the oppressed were answered.”


On the Holocaust:

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: History’s greatest mass murder was not “all for nothing,” said Yosef. The Jewish victims, he explained, were “the reincarnation of earlier souls who sinned [and who] returned … to atone for their sins.”

On 9/11:

Jerry Falwell blamed “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists and the gays and lesbians … the ACLU, People for the American Way” and groups “who have tried to secularize America… I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen… God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.”


Although in most cases these comments sound at best pathetic and at worst abusive, I think they highlight people’s need to bring God into their lives to make sense out of their surroundings. In some sense it is very fair; people want more out of God than just some distant concept invoked vacuously at a prayer service.

Nonetheless, most of the time their words end up sounding more silly than substantive, more blasphemous than holy and more political than religious. There is just something about Rabbi Ovadiah and Bill Clinton that makes them …how should I say this…un-prophetic.

The rabbis in the Ethics of our Fathers (3:17) were right when they said, “seag le-chachmah shtikah”–“a fence for wisdom is silence.”

It a shame there is so much noise in this world.

Comments read comments(26)
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posted January 20, 2006 at 5:48 am

I find very interesting the fact that people can twist the truth – It’s amazing that facts are accepted coming from God in the Torah – History repeats itself and we cannot see God’s hand???? Or should I say that He removed His protective hand ???? Judgment is biblical – Maybe you should open your eyes and be honest with yourself instead of using someone’s speach to attack/excuse/deny the truth ???? It might not have been said the right way – I agree – BUT it’s the truth …. READ THE WORD

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posted January 20, 2006 at 5:21 pm

Well observed, Rabbi. I was brought up Catholic, and I was taught that saying “Oh, my God!” was “taking the Lord’s name in vain”. I had never considered it in that sense of forbidding the use of God’s name to justify demonizing a group of His children, but it’s a very good point and is well worth considering.

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Jackie Wood

posted January 21, 2006 at 2:09 am

Pat Robertson and his ilk make me embarrassed to be a Christian. I used to tutor boys like him when I was an undergraduate Bible student. They couldn’t read and understand the Bible then and they can’t now. But I’m the one who’s not allowed to be a Southern Baptist minister. Rabbi Yosef’s comment about the holocaust sounds like a desparate attempt to justify bad things happening to good people. Sometimes it is best to just shake our heads and admit we don’t understand WHY things happen, to just admit that they DO happen and to get on with our business of helping those who are caught up in the results.

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Wrath of God?

posted January 21, 2006 at 3:05 am

If Michael Marcavage of “Repent America” thinks New Orleans was punished by God via Katrina, does that make the criminially incompetent FEMA “leader” Michael Brown God’s messenger, his Malachi, so to speak? And maybe Marcarvage would care to explain to us why the “Bible belt” is pummelled annually with plentiful hurricanes and twisters? Unbelievable.

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posted January 21, 2006 at 8:12 am

The reason the Bible Belt gets pummeled every year is very simple. God hates them.

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posted January 21, 2006 at 3:41 pm

He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone…..Who are we to judge anyone….We need to stop playing God, and let God be God in each of our lives, for only He is the righteous Judge and we will all one day stand before Him…Who will be ashamed on that day of days??

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posted January 21, 2006 at 3:42 pm

I thought the big lesson of the Babylonian Captivity was that not every evildoer is punished, not eveyone suffering is an evildoer. If that lesson is forgotten, what a waste of lives & time it was.

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posted January 22, 2006 at 10:59 am

While I did not view any of those comments as vain uses of the word God, I agree, with Iris, above, however, it indicated how varied our interpretation is of a supreme being. It is amazing that we give this supreme being our own character flaws, believing that victims of disasters, man-made or natural, are reincarnated evil doers, in the guise of women and children, where does any Bible mention that?, or believing that our fears/options about the peace process are attributal to God.

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posted January 22, 2006 at 12:09 pm

Pat Robertson and those like him (Falwell, et al) seem to revel in perpetuating ignorance. Why comment at all if you have nothing more valuable to say? He need not reinforce his message with such ridiculous statements. A rational analysis of the facts prove them wrong every time. Problem is, their followers will take their word for it, never question, let alone verify it. As long as there’s been religion, there’s been someone to abuse it.

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Sheryl Ann

posted January 22, 2006 at 4:28 pm

I find it ridiculous to blame natural disasters on God; e.g., His wrath, His punishments, etc. You must be able to look at the whole picture. Any of you familiar with the Great Red Spot of Jupiter? It’s a storm system that’s been in existence for millions of years. Whom is it punishing? There is no life on Jupiter! So to say that hurricanes, whatever…are punishments from God is pure superstition.

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posted January 22, 2006 at 6:32 pm

The truth is that this is nothing more than pure superstition. Men like Pat Robertson have become modern-day witch doctors.

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posted January 23, 2006 at 10:09 am

The article raises a good point but the author demolishes his credibility when he singles out Clinton at the end as an example instead of a serial abuser like Robertson. Clinton claimed no authority to know God’s mind, qualifying his statement into saying “it’s almost like.” Robertson has repeatedly shown he believes himself to be a Prophet with a mission divinely given by his God. His is the example that should have been elevated. Is the author trying to be politically correct by stretching a point to include a Democrat in his criticism? Thus the author manages to bear false witness while complaining about people breaking a different commandment.

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D. H. Fabian

posted January 23, 2006 at 2:11 pm

For Robertson, the “Religious Right”, etc., religion is just a self-promotional prop, another advertising gimmick.

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posted January 23, 2006 at 6:19 pm

I find it kind of reassuring that prominent(?)and educated(?) clergy from the Abrahamic Faiths can make stupid comments. It restores my faith in the equality of humankind ! 😉

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posted January 23, 2006 at 7:19 pm

I rejoice every time Pat Robertson opens his big yap, because he is doing such a stellar job of discrediting the fundamentalist “christians” who have perverted the teachings of Christ for their own lust for power. Their farce of moral supiority is a thin disguise for bigotry and arrogance.

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posted January 24, 2006 at 5:50 pm

I believe that disasters bring out the best in most of us. The few with a podium blasting us for not being more like themselves an then accuse G-d for natural disasters are being foolish.Think how many people responded to the Katrina devastation and still are volunteering time and still giving money to help out the region. Seems people forget how wonderously generous people can be and I believe THAT is where G-d shows his face to us.

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posted January 25, 2006 at 2:40 pm

Look what happened to Soddam and Gamora. The bible speaks of God’s wrath. Also as children of God we have the right and the ability to pray; after all we are his hands and feet. All that is going on today is bible prophesy as well the waxing cold of the bretheren. In any event at any time, any where, everything points to God, that is the central message; this more than what is said and by whom.

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posted January 26, 2006 at 4:38 pm

I heard that many Christians announced that the tsunami was punishment for all the child prostitution. So the Christians must accept all bad as being a punishment for something. A child has cancer because his father cheated on his wife, a wife dies in a crash because she cursed her mother when she was a child, the dog got bit by a rattle snake and died because the kids refused to eat broccoli… and the cow died because it owner was hungry. Blame everyone for everything and blame anyone for anything. But don’t we all do it? I remember once I thought to myself that a freind of mind was being punished by G-d once (he caught herpes while cheating on his wife). Silly me…

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posted January 26, 2006 at 5:45 pm

Indeed, MR…I think it’s human nature to do so. We all want to compare our own doings to those of others and find a way to feel “safe” from the misfortune that the other has experienced. I think those thoughts that cross our minds are a form of tempation towards the evil urge…the act that follows is either to our credit, or un-doing. The Holy One presented this lesson quite early in the Torah…His words to Cain… I agree with the Rabbi…many times it is best to remain silent.

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posted February 2, 2006 at 3:38 pm

It saddened me to read some of these cruel comments and the remarks made by Rabbi Stern. I sensed a ‘hatred’ toward anyone who disagrees with their stand. True … Christians often speak when they should remain silent and when we do speak, we often say the wrong things. We never claimed to be perfect. However, one thing for sure: CHRISTIANS ARE THE BEST FRIENDS ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE HAVE ON THIS EARTH. The majority of us pray for Israel and for the peace of Jersalem. Even with all our faults … WE LOVE YOU!

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posted February 6, 2006 at 7:05 pm

Maybe you are seen as a bully, an occupier, and oppressor of the Palestinian people and perhaps its own Arab population as well. Because you are infact so….:( I am not anti jewish or anything like that. But the facts speak for themselves. From the Talmud itself….Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world. – The Talmud, Mishna. Sanhedrin 37a so many innocents have died at Sharons hands as well as jews at hitlers hand. All the world, need to take these words to heart and treat each other and thier religions with respect. The bottom line is no matter if your Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or what ever….we Worship God just go to him thru different people of our faiths.

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Azar Kahn

posted February 7, 2006 at 7:26 pm

Americans being the only super power have many interests in Israel And the Jews being the big brothers of the religions started from Abraham have the entitlements as of christians ,muslims,The Arabs does not mean one religion.In all fairness, jews must have their homeland through all peaceful means

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Azar Kahn

posted February 11, 2006 at 9:53 pm

I have given the comments which must have been recorded.

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A. Rubinstein-Stern

posted February 12, 2006 at 7:58 pm

Sympathy is not the issue. The question is “Is it morally right to make derrogatory cartoons of Mohammed?” As Jews, everything else should be irrelevant. Anonymous | 02.12.06 – 10:54 am | #

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Azar Kahn

posted February 12, 2006 at 10:00 pm

I gave my comments absolutely immpartially,but the organizer of this programme might have misunderstood and did not respond to my click on preview and also PUBLISh I like the way you are conducting this programme.The coprehensive solution to the current colossally dangrous situation can only be adjudicated by our Lord God

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posted January 9, 2008 at 10:02 pm

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is correct. What he said is right and if you ignorant Jews would understand the Torah and what he knows then you would understand also. He said their were sins made and becuase of that their are consequences. Is that what drives the media crazy? that someone says that people have to pay for their sins, if not now then in the next world or next incarnation.

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