Today is Israel’s remembrance day. The day when we all remember the fallen, who fought in our wars, who died in terrorist incidents, who served our country, who gave their lives so that we could live, whose lives were taken to remind every day that the world is a very, very harsh place.
Every year I feel this day, with anger, with sadness. Today I didn’t feel a thing. Nothing.
Because when you are at war, you can’t cry. You have to move on and save the tears for later. And I feel at war. A two year war with an enemy that I can’t fight. An enemy that is unpredictable, that surprises you in the middle of the night. An enemy that nobody really knows how to fight.
So my defenses are always up. I must not break, I must be strong.
But then I understand that sadness is not weakness. That remembering gives strength. That even if the past is dark, the future will be bright. Because we remember.
That should not surprise us, right God? There are billions of people in the world, millions in my country. Millions of people die every day. Nonetheless, death is something that still bothers us. We fear death. We hate death. But why?
The other day I took some time to think about this. Why don’t we live forever? How would the world look if we never died? The first image that came to my mind is that we would all be sitting in the beach, drinking coconut water and eating fish we took from the sea. All urgent things in life would disappear, because there would always be tomorrow.
But at the same time, this would create great stagnation of the human race. Why? Because if we had infinite time to do things, we would also take infinite time to do them. That is how we are. I don’t meant there would be no inventions, but the process would be much, much slower. I can imagine the typical conversation between two inventors/entrepreneurs in this world: “Jill: Bad news Joe – the test we did today for the itch-scratchy machine failed again. Joe: Bugger. Well, we’ll try again later. No rush, it’s not like we are going to die tomorrow or something like that”.
For some strange inner reason, we all want to change the world. We have a limited number of years, days, hours… And one day, hopefully without previous notice, we die. So we can’t wait for tomorrow, because who knows what will happen tomorrow. We must do things now.
My greatest fear is not death, God. Everything ends when we die. I fear for the living, because these are the ones who suffer when we go. I fear pain. I fear suffering. I fear being lonely.
But I don’t fear death. Because death is what makes me alive.
Today I started writing about another subject, but at the middle of the letter I saw that you would need more background to understand what I was talking about (well, this is really not true as you should know all, but sometimes even I have problems understanding my thoughts, so I saw it fit to write this letter first).
We are taught at school that there are different states of matter: Solid, Liquid, Gas, etc. And everything is made up of atoms, which in turn are composed by electrons, protons, and neutrons. An atom is composed of a nucleus and a cloud of electrons surrounding it. The interesting thing is that the size of the atom (where the electron cloud ends) is around 10.000 times the size of the nucleus (and even more for light elements like gases). So it you think about it, there is a LOT of empty space out there. Actually, most of what we are is empty space.
So how can we feel stuff? If we are made up of so much empty space, why can’t we see or walk through walls? Why does it hurt when you accidentally slam a hammer against your finger while hammering a nail? Because matter is not what matters (no pun intended). The reason we can’t walk through walls, and that we can touch things, is energy. While there is a lot of space between the electron cloud and the nucleus, this space is like a demilitarized zone that is protected by the forces of the atom. Things simply cannot go inside this space without having to exert immense forces. And this energy also varies between elements and molecules, so we have solids, liquids, gas, etc.
It turns out that everything we sense are the changes in forces and energies around us. Light is energy, sound is energy, and touch is also energy. And having that, why can’t we have “energy” sensors? Let’s take feelings for example. When a person feels sad, they are probably expelling lots of “sad” energies. So if we had “feeling” sensors, we would feel this energy coming to us.
I think we already have these sensors, but most of us are not aware of them.
Hi God. Here we are, again at the IC unit. And while this time it was not a complete surprise, once again you showed us how we can plan and plan and plan, but things happen when they must happen. We had a great weekend at home, and found ourselves again at the emergency unit on Saturday (but at least not so early in the morning as last time). And after a long wait (time sometimes flies, and sometimes it crawls), nothing “wrong” was found. But because things don’t “just happen”, we stayed at the hospital for some follow-up.
Interestingly, it turned out to be just for the good (as everything is, right?). It turned out that after some days in the hospital, where you can do some “experiments”, there is no need for one of the medications he receives. And not only that, but on the second day at the ward, the neurosurgeons started saying that “if we are already here, maybe we should do the operation that we planned for may? You know, to save you the going out of the hospital and coming back again?”
So yes, we humans have this tendency to plan things, and then reality (and You) comes and decides what will really happen. And it is so hard (at least for me) to change plans. And change them again. But we don’t have a choice.
And talking about planning, in the afternoon we had planned that my wife would stay the night in the IC unit and I would go early to sleep. And I was in the middle of writing this post… But just before I left we were told to move to the surgical ward because our bed was needed by a more urgent case.
Today in Israel is Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day when we remember the horrors that occurred not long ago in Europe during World War II. I’m positive you are acquainted with what happened during that time, right? And so I’m taking a step back from my personal suffering and going more global than usual, but the questions are more or less the same… Well, it is actually only one question: Why?
It is written that you are a God of justice. But you make it very hard for us to understand what is the meaning of your justice. There were many bad people killed during that war, evil people who wanted to harm, destroy, an annihilate entire nations. But most of them were not like that. Millions of children who did nothing wrong, who just made the mistake of being born in the wrong place at the wrong time. And what about all of the righteous people who died? Those who prayed for you every day and every night, even when they saw the fires near them, even when they could not sleep from hunger and cold, even then they kept on praying. And they prayed until their last minute.
After what I have lived the last two months, I have a better understanding on why they prayed. But I still don’t understand why this is needed from us. Believing in you means that all of this world has a purpose, that we are on a journey to somewhere. Today it actually came to me that the Holocaust should be sadder to non-believer humanists than to believers. Because if you think we humans have evolved over animals, that we have grown to think, things like the holocaust (and other atrocities that keep on going every day) just don’t make sense. But for believers this is just the way that you have set things, and it is good. Sorry, but I don’t see how this can be defined as good.
Oh dear God, please open our eyes so that we can understand all of this suffering and all of this pain. We want a world of love, a world of abundance, a world of peace and quiet. A better world that the one we currently live in.
Last week I started a new ritual in my daily: I come early from work (before sunset) and walk around the block with my son, while he has a patch on his good eye. Last week we found out (once again by chance) that he lost almost all of his sight in one eye :-(, so I want to do a more daily follow-up on this, and also use this time to talk to him and understand how he feels.
Yesterday was tough. In the middle of the walk, while talking about an eye exam he was doing today (and after doing it once, hates it), he asked one question: Why was I punished with this? Why did God punish me?
Tough one, ah?
First I had to stop myself from crying. After I managed this, I tried to explain to him that he was not being punished. That we simply don’t understand what God wants from us and that if he gave him what he did, it must be for a purpose, but we are simply too dumb and simple to understand this.
The conversation went “uphill” from that point, and we talked about all of the bad things that happen in the world (well, not all but many), and how, if I was to make the world, people would never get sick and would never die. He thought this would be boring, having all of the time the same people around, doing the same jobs. So we settled on having no sickness and when people got bored, they would simply go to sleep forever. Deep thoughts for a seven-year old kid.
So God, tell me. Just between you and me. Are you punishing us or is this really the way you meant the world to be?
Good night God. How are you? I’ve been doing fine since our last conversation (and while to have a conversation you need the other person to answer, maybe I’m getting answers but I have no “matching input device” to take them, so I’ll just assume we are having a conversation). The world hasn’t changed much, both for the good and for the bad. Sun is still shining, moon is still in its place, the sea hasn’t evaporated. Same as usual.
There are a couple of things I wanted to talk about today, hope you have some spare time.
Let’s talk some Torah (Bible) today. This week in the synagogue we read Parashat Bereshit, the first weekly bible reading, and also the first part of the first book of the Torah, which I always find to be a thorough treatise into human behaviour. It’s all there: lies, backstabbing, treason, murder, cheating, you name it. And all done by our great forefathers, read every week with awe, and taught to our children at school (somewhat censored, but less than expected). Every time I read it I learn new things. Great work man! I mean, God!
So let’s talk about Adam and Eve. Two interesting things came to my mind when reading Bereshit. First, you took Adam, put him in Gan Eden, and told him not to eat from the forbidden fruit. Did you really expect him not to eat from it? You are our father and we are your children, right? Adam was also your child, right? What you did is against every parenting 101 book (and as you are omni-know-all-something, you surely read all parenting books, right?). It’s like putting my girl in a room with a bar of the most delicious chocolate just sitting there in the middle of the room, and telling her that she must never, ever, eat the chocolate bar. Nope, won’t work. And as you surely know that, you are probably teaching us something. I’ll keep that in mind next time I put my girl in a room full of chocolate.
Second, after eating from the forbidden fruit, both man and woman hid in the garden awaiting for their father (you) to come and shout at them. The funny thing here is what they do: you say (my liberal translation) “WHERE ARE YOU”, to which Adam responds “heard you are coming and since we are naked, we hid”, to which you answer “WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU ARE NAKED! DID YOU EAT FROM THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT?!?!?!”. And what does Adam say? “this woman you gave me, she gave me the fruit“. So you go on to the woman “WHAT IS THIS THAT YOU DID?!?!?” to which she answers “the snake made me“. Impressive! they just ate from the fruit a minute ago and they already learned one of the basic necessities of humans – having someone to blame for our problems.
So maybe that is your real task in this world, dear God? Are you here just so that we can blame you for all of the bad things that happen to us? It actually makes life a lot simpler. But I don’t believe this is the case, so the search will continue.
This letter is getting a bit long, but I just wanted to add another thing. Today I visited with my son a great place that helps families cope with tumor treatments (we go there after him having his chemo, and that really changes the color of the day). They have so many cool things for children: a playground, a petting zoo, art classes, music classes, you name it. But this is not the point. As I was there, a couple with a kid appeared and they looked really, really familiar. After 5 seconds of looking one at the other, she remembered that the three of us had worked together some 12 years ago. What a coincidence! And why is she there? she looks fine. But things were not fine. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago and had been treated. After 5 years she was pregnant with twins and the cancer returned, and now a lot worse. So no more twins, and back to treatment. But she wears a great smile, talks positive, looks and feels very positive, with impressive energies.
So God, the joke is on you. And we’ll talk about this next time.