Deep thoughts, random insights, and musings by Susan Jacobs

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Thinking about the unfathomable

I have been thinking quite a bit over the last week about the thousands of lives lost to the tsunamis in southern Asia. There is nothing to say -- it is so absolutely incomprehensible. I grew up in a town whose population is 60,000, and the loss of life in the last week is at least twice that.

I think part of the difficulty in dealing with this is that there is no person to blame. No one who set off a bomb, or otherwise plotted to kill thousands upon thousands. There may be some comfort in understanding the science behind the disaster -- in knowing that somewhere deep beneath the Indian Ocean two enormous plates of land collided. However, this is hollow comfort because there was no way of predicting this would happen, and no explanation of why.

Seeing and hearing of the destruction, I can understand why ancient pagans prayed to and tried to appease deities of the sky, land, and sea. What is mightier than a wall of water traveling at 500 mph?

This morning in his sermon, my rabbi spoke about the horrible destruction and urged us to think about those who died and those who lost loved ones, to sympathize with them, pray for them, and send whatever aid we can. However, he also said it is important not to try to deduce a reason for this event, ultimately blaming some and excusing others. We can and should reflect upon this event as an act of G-d, but the only message that is certain from this is that G-d runs this world, not us, and that some events are beyond our comprehension. (I am not doing justice to his actual words, but that was the gist.)

I know some will find that to be as unsatisfying as everything else that has been said in the last week. However, I do find some comfort in what he said. How is it possible that such a thing could happen? It's not up to us to figure out why. The best we can do is help those in need and remind ourselves that G-d is the One who is really in charge.