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Letting Go

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Topic: God, Suffering, Why Allows

Eric Steinberg from New York wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I am having a lot of trouble within myself dealing with a question. If you and I are fathers and we see our children in danger we scoop them up and carry them to safety. We would even give up our lives for them. If this is so then why does G-d not do the same for His children; after all, He is "our Father..." I have asked a few rabbis about this, but the response was not helpful. I am not trying to turn away from G-d but I do need this answered so that I may be closer to Him...

Dear Eric Steinberg,

Have you ever taught a child to ride a bike? If you have you will realize that at some point you have to let go of the seat or the handlebars and let him ride himself, and fall himself. If you do not let go at some point, he will never learn to ride the bike.

The ultimate purpose of this world is for the human to develop the capacity to be G-dlike, similar and compatible with G-d. However, G-d is not controlled, influenced or "scooped up" by some outside force. He is completely independent - in order for us to really be good (or evil for that matter) it requires that our actions be from within ourselves as a result of free will. Free will requires that we are not unduly influenced in our decisions. If every time I make the right choice morally, I succeed in this world, and every time I make the wrong choice morally, I fail in this world, then I no longer have free will, I am merely a rat in a Skinner maze being conditioned to press the correct lever. This means that even if I am righteous I may suffer, and I may suffer at the hands of the evildoers. It is only in this system that humanity can become great - a system with minimun Divine intervention, with no apparent connection between moral and physical success. G-d wants us to be able to "ride the bike," and that is why He lets go.

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