Guest post by Bruce Holland
I'm sure many of you heard about the incident in Monsey during Hurricane Irene. A 5-year-old boy (Reuven Herbst) was being electrocuted by a downed power line, a neighbor (Moshe Reichenberg) rushed to rescue him. Reichenberg was killed, and Reuven was injured critically.
You can read all about it here.
As you can see below, in the Monsey ad magazine Community Connections dated September 8-15, approximately a dozen women from the neighborhood where this occurred (including Reichenberg's widow) took out a full-page ad. The ad quotes the Chofetz Chaim, who said (allegedly) that machlokes is like fire. The women urge everyone to forgive old grudges and increase peacemaking as a merit for the boy's recovery.
Underneath the copy, as you'll see, is a section that includes updates regarding Reuven's condition: August 31 update: Since this campaign began, we heard that the boy's heart became stabilized and strong (sic). September 5 update: Doctors say that his body is recovering!
Of course, they add 'Chasdei Hashem' and 'Hodu L'Hashem Ki Tov' so we all know that we're praising the Lord for these miraculous signs of recovery, not the righteous women who are burying hatchets and forgiving one another and letting go of resentments right and left.
(Side note, it's Lashem, not L'Hashem. But hey, some of these women are BTs, and some of the others went to Beis Yaakov schools, so they don't know any better.)
So they're implying that the kid is improving as a direct result of their actions.
But apparently their actions weren't good enough, because Reuven died on Friday, 9/9.
I have so many questions, and yes, I don't mind voicing them even while the Herbst family is still sitting shiva.
How do people--BTs or FFBs or Rabbis or Rebbetzins or lay people--justify this kind of sanctimonious nonsense? It's not like we haven't seen it before. We saw it after Motty Borger killed himself, and after Leiby Kletzky's murder, too. People actually believe that they can draw direct corollaries from human actions to G0d, unless and until they can't, at which point they shrug and say, "Who can understand the ways of G0d?"
But you just got finished beating me over the head with guilt, and building up my hopes, telling me that by forgiving my insufferable shrew of an aunt (for example) and letting bygones be bygones, I'm actually making the world a better place *and* helping heal a critically injured child!
Yes, but, you didn't do enough. The improvement in Reuven's condition was from Hashem. And the deterioration was also from Hashem. Who are we to question?
It's infuriating to me that this drivel is what passes for discourse and what passes for Torah and Yiddishkeit among the rank-and-file here in Monsey and throughout the 'frum' or 'haredi' world. They're pushing dumb, blind, feel-good thought control, telling a naive and unquestioning audience that it actually makes a difference, and then wringing their hands piously when G0d, in His infinite humor, yanks the rug out from under them.
I hope that this story causes more people to question and doubt. Because these questions and doubts are more real than a thousand parroted kapitlech of tehillim. If some lose their faith, so be it. If others find it strengthened, more power to them. But for G0d's sake, don't drink the kool-aid. Push back. Force these patronizing know-nothings to admit that they can't predict anything, they don't know anything, and that ultimately, if there is a G0d, they can't say anything about it.