Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Baruch Dayan ha' emet

Today Rachel Swett passed away. She was a good friend and a sorority sister. She was a kind, giving person. She was great to talk to and told funny stories. I had the privilege of being her new member mom and got to know her well through that. She was the only person who would be able to convince me (the rab student) to go with her to sit on Santa's lap before christmas. I missed her a lot this year while she was abroad studying first in Paris and then in new zealand, but it always looked like she was having fun and had great pictures to prove it.

Rachel was in a skiing accident and had been in critical condition for the past few days. While she was not expected to survive, the news of her passing was/is still shocking. It was shocking for many reasons. This is the first person who was my age who I was friends with who actually died. It was also shocking because she was such a good person, and did nothing to deserve such an untimely end to her life.

So in Judaism there is this custom of saying "baruch dayan ha'emet" when you first hear of tragic news, like a death. This phrase translates to blessed is the true judge. It is kind of like saying yes, this is a horrible thing that happened but it happened for a reason and it is all part of God's big plan. While this phrase might be comforting for some people because it is reassuring that this event happened for a reason, I am having a lot of trouble with it. While my view of God is complicated and ever-evolving, I believe that God is good. But I don't understand how taking the life of a young, amazing person could be for the better. Seriously. Yes you could say that by taking this life it will teach people something or it will help them value life more, but these effects don't justify the tragedy that took place and the tragedies that continue to take place around the world.

There is a view in Judaism that if you take one life it is as if you have killed an entire world and if you save a life it is as if you have saved a world. Saving a life, pikuach nefesh, is the biggest mitzvah you can possibly do. With all this value that Judaism places on life it just doesn't make sense that life would be taken away so quickly by a God that taught us to appreciate life and go above and beyond to conserve it.

So basically the phrase baruch dayan ha'emet is complete b.s to me. Yeah God works in mysterious ways, but what kind of Judge kills off innocent people? Maybe this is heretical to say, but I am pissed at God right now and I am extremely upset that the world has lost such an awesome person.

May her memory be a blessing...

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