There’s an old saying that everything happens for a reason.
In this week’s Torah portion, Vayigash, Joseph finally reveals his identity to his brothers.
The brothers are overcome by shame and remorse for what they did to Joseph. But Joseph says something very interesting to them. Joseph says, “It was not you who sent me here, but G‑d. It has all been ordained from Above.”
Some people believe that God is in control of everything. To them I ask, “where was God at Sandy Hook elementary school?” Was it God’s plan that children be murdered? What it God’s plan that a young man be mentally ill?
If it is part of God’s plan, then what could this possibly say about our God?
And if this wasn’t part of God’s plan, then does God have a plan at all?
And if God doesn’t have a plan, then what does it mean for God to be God?
Some people believe, based on this line in the Torah, and elsewhere in the Jewish Bible, that God plans everything out. That while we cannot understand every part of God’s plan, we should be comforted in some way that even when things are out of control, events in the world are somehow still under control of a God who is looking out for us.
The Bible seems to contradict itself. Sometimes, God is in control of everything. At other times, God seems to be a limited player in the game of life. And that’s OK.
I believe, that Joseph believed, that his destiny was in the hands of God. And perhaps in some way, it was. But that doesn’t mean I have to believe in a God who lets children die.
Life is confusing. And our Torah, which is a reflection of our life, is just as confusing. The Bible does not give us all the answers, because some things are unanswerable. And if you could know the answer, would you really want to?
We pray for the victims and their families. We pray for anyone who suffers around the world. We do so because a force within us calls us to a higher level of humanity than the level that God has set up for us on this earth. And perhaps it is in that human spirit of love and compassion that God sits, waiting for us to be Godly.