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The Bloodied Face of God

Rabbi Grossman asks where God was found in last week’s horrific massacre at Virginia Tech, and I was touched by her portrayal of God made manifest in the acts of heroism and self-sacrifice by students and teachers at Virginia Tech, even as the bullets flew around them. And yet, as I try to make sense of this inexplicable tragedy, I can’t help thinking that there is another place where God was found as well: in the face of each and every student and professor–created in God’s image–who was murdered that morning. Thirty-two times, God’s image was desecrated that morning, and then a 33rd as Cho Seung-Hui took his own life, bringing to a close an incomprehensible orgy of destruction. As the smoke cleared, God’s blood-spattered image was all too evident.

How did it come to this? To me it is terrifying that Cho Seung-Hui, a person with a history of mental illness and violent tendencies, was able to walk into a gun store and walk out with weapons and ammunition capable of instantly turning a deranged individual into a mass murderer. It is horrifying that we live in a country where lethal handguns are legal and readily available, where states like Virginia allow people to carry concealed weapons and to purchase multiple firearms at a gun show without even giving their name, and where the National Rifle Association stymies efforts to place even the most basic, common-sense controls on gun ownership.

Writing in this week’s New Yorker, Adam Gopnik points out that other countries that experienced mass shootings such as England, Canada, and France have responded by tightening gun laws and, as a result, have prevented such horrific events from recurring. America, by contrast, has suffered and grieved through the Columbine shootings, the execution of Amish schoolchildren six months ago, last week’s rampage at Virginia Tech, so many countless others, and then done nothing. So much carnage, so many times God’s image has been obliterated in an instant because of easy access to handguns. When will we finally stop the madness and allow God’s image to flourish once again?

Read the Full Debate: God & The Virginia Tech Shooting



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Heather

posted April 27, 2007 at 12:03 am


As an American living in Canada I have seen many significant differences between the two peoples. The shooting at Dawson College in Quebec brought calls from Canadians to keep gun control, while after the shooting at Virginia Tech many Americans called for arming students and teachers.



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starshine_217

posted April 27, 2007 at 12:50 pm


We need Gun Control, there is no doubt. However, we also need a better Mental Health system. Cho had *RED FLAGS* up all over the place, long before those first shots were ever fired. There are millions of people living with a Mental Health Disorder and trust me, the majority will cause no harm to anyone and do not deserve the STIGMA that has been attached to people with Mental Health Disorders. Yet, there are those who do not realize or fail to realize that they have a problem and need serious help and intervention. I’m including patients already in the mental health system. No one wants to be committed nor to commit, but isn’t it safer for the patient and possibly others? The mental health system has gone from one extreme to another. They use to involuntarily commit someone in a blink of an eye and for any reason they could think up. Now, it’s the other way around, a serious tragedy has to happen before involuntary committment is even a possibility. By then lives have been lost, other’s changed forever and the person who needed the serious intervention/help to begin with is either dead or dragged off to prison instead. There has to be answer to this mental health problem somewhere. Somewhere down the middle. Otherwise, there are going to continue to be more Cho’s and more tragedies. This is one time that people have to open their eyes to more than just Gun Control. I’m all for Gun Control, but…..



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Barry sweetman

posted April 28, 2007 at 3:22 am


Why do we focus on the guns ? Why do we not focus on the failed mental health system and the medical and university officials who value privacy over safety? Using gun control is an ineffective but convenient excuse for the failing of society, our medical professionals and the inability to cure human souls before they reach the point of desperation. Why do people use a tragedy as a platform for political opportunism? The truth of the matter is that guns can not be denied to those who seek them. They are no different than illegal drugs. The government spends billions of dollars attempting to stanch the flow of illegal drugs….Why would guns be any different? As a persecuted people, Jews are entitled to the right to self defense….those poor students had none…where were the campus police? Rabbi, you can forfeit your own right to self defense. I will cling to my Torah and…my .357



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Tzvi

posted April 29, 2007 at 12:38 am


Barry, you write that you will “cling to your Torah and your .357″ As much as I believe that all jews have the right to defend themselves, I find that I prefer a more eastern outlook, namely that one should use the least amount of force necesary to achieve the maximum result. But I agree, at some level this is about the failure of the mental health system, and less about the gun control. As to where god is/was, I’d like to think that God was there, or rather the Shekhina, who weeps because it is seperated from the Holy one, blessed be the name, Like a Spouse forced to wander among the people.



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Rick Abrams

posted April 30, 2007 at 7:28 pm


Where was G-d? He was with Seung-Hui Cho; she was with the students; it was vacationing on the Riveria. The question where was G-d is inane. G-d is Echad — G-d is inconceiveable so it’s a foolish question to ask Where he was. G-d was everywhere and nowhere. The question that makes sense is where were we when Seung-Hui passed by us? Why did we not see the terrible pain and anger in his face? What did the nasty English teacher throw him out her class? She told us why; “He had more CONTROL” than she did. She didn’t care for him as a human being; she was blind to a tortured soul. Due to her own Narcissism, she was angry because Seung-Hui had more “Control” than she did — her word, not mine. Why would no one help the head of the English Department who tried to help Seung-Hui? Why did the judge check the box which allowed a paranoid schizophrenic buy a gun when he could just as easily checked the next box which would have stopped him from buyig a gun? Wy do give mental health treatment to people who may kill within the enxt 2 hours, but if the murder is not “imminent,” i.e. not likely to occurr for a couple days? Why would anyone even think to ask, “Where was G-d?” What a primitive question.



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mary taylor

posted April 30, 2007 at 9:55 pm


you are so on target about the mental health !!!!!!!!!do you take any questions on other matters,i would truely like to know,when G_D said let us make man in our own image,doesnt the word US, mean more then one,?if so what did G_D refer to ,or mean,iv gone to a few jewish temples,and love their services,iam drawn to the jewish faith,because theres more truth there,!!!.i dont go to any sunday serivice any more, they belive that the word US means G_D, surposely,meant jesus his son,to the christerns, i mean,iam not convinced, of that so i dont go to any christain church anymore,iam looking for an answer!!!i do hope you can help ,shalom, mary



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Rick Abrams

posted April 30, 2007 at 10:21 pm


Dear Mary, There is no benefit to being Jewish and thus there is no need to seek answers within the context of the Jewish people (unless you are Jewish). Remember we are the People who say, “2 Jews, 3 opinions.” Men created all religions. If you don’t like the concepts in one religion, then seek answers elsewhere, but remember all religions have idiots who turn their beliefs into foolish nonsense or worse. It boils down to the concsciousness of the individual – water seeks its own level. Socrates was right when he said, “the unexamined life is north worth living.” Keep examining and life will have more meaning.



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mary taylor

posted April 30, 2007 at 10:48 pm


hi again you still didnt answer my one question, what did G-D, mean when make man in the image,please be honest with me, mary



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mike

posted April 30, 2007 at 11:39 pm


The ball was dropped by the mental health people. When he walked into the gun shop his name was supposed to be on a list of people who have mental problems and cannot purchase weapons. Why wasn’t his name on theat list. Who dropped the ball? Let’s punish the millions of legal gun ownersfor what one person did.



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Scott R.

posted May 1, 2007 at 1:15 am


“Us” as in the royal “We”. Queen Elizabeth says the same.



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Richard Peter

posted May 2, 2007 at 6:17 am


Where was God during the tragedy at Virginia Tech? Or for that matter where was God during any tragedy and all tragedies that have beset Mankind since the expulsion from the Garden? I would submit that if it is true that God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent, that He has been present during every tragedy that has ever befallen the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. And, it would seem, He has done nothing about the tragedies. In fact, it could be reasonably argued that world tragedy has increased in intensity. Not even the flood, and the re-creation of the world, has interrupted the continual flow of sin, sickness, disease, death and destruction, and certainly God, to this point, has done nothing to prevent the rise of evil men and empires who deprive others of life and freedom on a daily basis. What, then, is the answer to the question of why God does not prevent evil, and directly intervene in human affairs? The answer is really quite simple.There is no God present if man continues in original sin, the belief in good and evil, and in a God separate and apart from his own consciousness. When man returns to the Kingdom of God within himself, a kingdom of consciousness that does not believe in two powers, the power of good and the power of evil, when he believes only in the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniactive, and Omniscience of a Holy and Righetous Father working through his spirit, mind and body, and when man yields himself to the point of becoming a perfect transparency for the perfection of Him who is All perfect, then no evil can befall him. Unfortunately, man has forgotten his true identity in God, and until he returns to his Father’s House, he will continue to suffer. Outside the Ark of God’s Perfect Consciousness, there is no true and lasting safety.



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Richard Peter

posted May 2, 2007 at 6:18 am


God is within you, nearer than breathing, and closer than hands and feet.



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Tzvi

posted May 2, 2007 at 12:57 pm


Dear Richard, I was reading your post and I’m scratching my head…on one hand you seem to sound like a humanist, and on the other, like an evangelical(I don’t mind Humanists/Athiests…I hate Evangelicals) I tend to take comfort in the fact that it is enough that I know that G-d exists. In Lurian Kaballah, it is taught that if G-d were trully everywhere at all times there would have been no room for creation, which led to a “contraction”(Tzimtzum). As was said before, its not the best question to ask “where was G-D?”, but rather were were WE, and in that include everyone who by action or inaction allowed this to happen.



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david pierson

posted May 3, 2007 at 5:53 am


you speak of those ‘…created in God’s image …’, so right, to the extent that He suffers also when we do, when whatever occurs occurs. So be it, Amen.



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Richard Peter

posted May 3, 2007 at 1:59 pm


The best question to ask God is to explain the true meaning of “orginal sin.” Until man understands the root cause of all evil,all other questions are irrelevant.



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Tzvi

posted May 3, 2007 at 4:36 pm


Richard Peter, you wrote: >>The best question to ask …to >>explain the true meaning >>of “orginal sin.” Well well well, so the emperor is revealed after all! You’re an Evangelical…. considering that jews don’t accept the concept of Original Sin, WE would never mention it. I’m not going to even debate this. To quote Billy joel:”You can’t argue with a crazy man”



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