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Thoughts and Afterthoughts - by Naim Dangoor


If we complain and ask God, "Where were you at the time of the Holocaust?" His retort, meant to put us in our place, would probably be, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding." (Job 38:4).

This attitude, in fact, conforms to man's inferior view of himself in relation to our Creator. "When I behold Thy Heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou have established; What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?" (Psalm 8: 4,5).

Man's inferiority complex is due to his boundless ambition and limitless possibilities, but man is precious to God as the culmination of the Creation process of the Universe. The cosmos has been searched far and wide without success for any evidence, even for any elementary form of life, never mind an intelligent being. Thus, man is unique, just as God Himself is unique.

The Jewish Bible, the early portion in particular, is a universal charter for the human race, going back to the dawn of civilisation. It affirms the unity of God, that the universe is a result of an act of Creation. The Bible affirms that man was created in the image of God, which does not mean just the appearance. We were endowed with a spark of love, a spark of genius, a spark of justice and a spark of holiness.

The Bible affirms that man has free will - not the ability to do what he likes, but merely the ability to choose between good and evil. All the good that comes our way is from God and all the evil is from our own doing. The Bible does not preach superior and inferior races. Bless that genius, that super Prophet who wrote down that eternal charter of mankind.

For millions of years, God had put his hope in the dinosaurs - much brawn and little brain. They were good for nothing. They fought and killed each other and made no progress. After 100 million years. (What patience!) In one fell swoop, God got rid of them. In due course, man appeared, small in body, large in brain.

In the ante-deluvion period, man indulged in violence which likewise grieved God. Just as he did with the dinosaurs, he again decided to wipe out the human race from the face of the earth, but not entirely. Before the onset of the flood, God made a covenant with Noah, the idea being that the chosen people would suffer for God the wickedness of mankind.

It is this covenant with Noah that was transmitted down the generations and reaffirmed to Abraham and the children of Israel.

If we say "Dear God, we are not complaining, but is it fair that we were 'chosen' only as the suffering son, the sacrificial lamb, to endure the wickedness of mankind?" His reply would probably be, "Are you suggesting that mortal man is more righteous than God?" (Job 4:17).

In fact, as chosen people, we do have a choice - to conquer or to suffer. The chosen people, what do they resemble? They resemble the man who was selected to be King for a day. He was installed in the morning on his throne and asked to govern. But, they put a millstone suspended above his head. When they came in the evening to see what he did, he complained, "How can you expect me to think and act properly with that millstone above my head?" They replied, "If that object was bothering you, why didn't you order its removal?"

But, in the choice between conquering and suffering, the Jews have definitely decided that suffering performs our duty to God more faithfully than conquering.

Man is only at the beginning of our role as masters of the universe. We have a long way to go yet. God's message is simply this: until man becomes god (angel, Elohim), if he can avoid destroying himself, or merit annihilation by the Almighty, mankind is expendable. We have to learn to accept this fact of life.

By accepting our role as the suffering son, we have implicitly accepted this fact of life - this truth.

When the Torah tells us: "Behold, I have given you this day Good and Evil, Life and Death, therefore choose Life," it does not mean mortal life, but everlasting life; not individual life, but the life of the species; not the life of bread and comfort, but spiritual life. For man does not live by bread alone.

We who are at the tail-end of God's wonderful creation, can notice and experience the limitation of His creative ability.

Said the Bedouin pointing to heaven as a fast Cadillac whized past him, "You think you are wonderful having created a camel!" Said a cynic as he contemplates the female anatomy, "The entrance is near the toilet, and any key can open the door!" The idea of fitting the female of species with a lock and key is not new. At the time of the Crusades 900 years ago, crusaders who volunteered to go to the Holy Land were allowed to fit their bride with a chastity belt and leave the key with the mayor. In case the soldier was killed, the mayor would release the bride. On one occasion the key of a beautiful young bride was entrusted to the mayor, and when they were half an hour on their way, the mayor came galloping and told the soldier, "You gave me the wrong key!" "You are telling me!" replied the soldier and, continued on his way.

According to Jewish law, a newly married man is in fact exempt from military service for 12 months. Some people can even tell God what an ideal human habitat for the faithful should be like - an evergreen garden with flowing rivers of orange juice and other exotic fruits, teaming with virgin maidens and young boys - a paedophiles' paradise.Mortal man enjoying the taste of immortality. In contrast to the squalor and the human misery which is the lot of the majority of mankind.

Some scientists argue that the universe needs God's continued attention to keep it going. I reject that view. When you spin a top, it keeps going until its energy is run down. The same with the universe, it keeps going until its energy is expended, it does not need God's constant attention to keep it going.

So, if the universe is the product of an absentee God, what do we mean when we say God is merciful and compassionate, long suffering and forgiving sin? Does it mean simply that God is not there or that he doesn't care? No, we are the product of a good God whose merciful, compassionate and forgiving qualities are imbued in all his creation.

When God told Moses, "No man can see me and live." He meant that mortal man is of no consequence. He is of no intrinsic value. Mortal man is just a stepping stone to greater heights. It is presumptuous and vain therefore to speak of reviving the dead. It does not make sense.

In the presence of the Eternal, mortal man would be consumed like dried grass.



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