Newtown Massacre Carries No Divine Message

18 Dec

The victims of the Sandy Hook massacre had not even been brought to burial as questions and answers about God’s role in Newtown Friday morning were being blogged and facebooked around the world; the debate even made it to live TV and radio. In the words of one Christian blogger, God was on Trial in Newtown.

I wish to make this short and to the point, without nuances, without complicated acrobatic reasoning .

As I see it, every human being was, from the very beginning, created in the image of God. What precisely does this imply about us? Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (1843-1926), in the context of his commentary on Genesis 1:27 explained it this way:

To be created in the image of God (b’tzelem
Elokim) is to be created with freedom of choice, unbound by compulsory instinct, with independent will and intellect. For the purpose of providing us with freedom of choice, God holds back His divine power. The Holy One, blessed be He, allows room for His creations to do that which they so choose, and keeps what would be His decree or decision out of their personal choice. [He allows] the human being the freedom to choose to do good or bad as his soul desires, the ability to do things against his own natural disposition, and in opposition to that which is right in the eyes of God.

While is it absolutely the case that God can do anything and everything, it is also true that from the very beginning of beginnings, God purposefully limited God’s role. God can, but generally does not intervene, because that just was not the deal. We are partners in this world, and our role in this partnership is accompanied by extensive personal responsibility coupled with severe natural consequences.

The massacre in Newtown was a meaningless tragedy – not a part of some inexplicable divine plan. The choice to do evil is an abuse of the great privilege of being part of the human race – of being created in God’s image.

May the souls of the victims rest in peace. May their families and friends find comfort in the acts of generosity and loving-kindness being extended to them from around the world at this time by caring, concerned fellow human beings, who through choosing to come forward and offer support at this dark hour, give bright and holy expression to the image of God in which they too were created.


One Response to “Newtown Massacre Carries No Divine Message”


  1. A Meaningless Tragedy « CAJE - Wednesday, December 19, 2012

    […] of Adult Jewish Learning Director of Education Rabbi Morey Schwartz, writing in today’s “Tuesdays with Morey” blog, quotes Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (1843-1926), in his commentary on Genesis 1:27, […]

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