Unanswered Prayer, Who Shall Live/Die, etc.
One response to unanswered prayer I always wait to here in any Jewish discussion is "and sometimes the answer is no". I don't know that the speaker/'audience member' who presents it cares who else may be present - the terminally ill person with a world of responsibilities left behind that go unaddressed ('ripple effect' of what was before primarily their
suffering, at times for generations), the adolescent in a physically/sexually abusive home, predated on by family. One could go on and on - "sometimes the answer is no". B'emet?...that's your response?...
A Jewish answer is often that "Prayer is for changing our minds, not God's mind", which makes, well, bullshit out of all the petitionary prayers that appear in Tanach (you know...nevuah?...), in our siddurim, the now-pointless email requests for prayers and tehillim for peoples recovery...it's allllll now about "changing our selves" and not reality. And wasn't Judaism about "this world", and transforming this world? Wasn't it about God Creating and Entering this world at Sinai, Speaking to us? some will say "that was then, this is now", that kind of relationship has ended, etc. And now due to sins that were not ours, people continue to die and suffer by the billions since Korban Beit ha Mikdash, begging and pleading to their Creator and "the answer is no".
A Christian answer is from Karl Rahner - b'kitzer; if you have questions of theodicy, unanswered prayer, look to the crucifix. God sees to the torturous death of his Son, 1/3rd of himself as it were (I know Christians see it as more complex), refuses to answer his own prayers
(in Gethsemani, Jesus prayers twice that God take the "cup" from him, pass the responsibilty on to another and is obviously refused, being then taken by authorities to be judged and crucified). That being said...wouldn't Jesus know what it's like to go unanswered, to hear the answer "no", to not simply experience continued persecution but torturous mutilation, public display and public death. So...if he is who he said he is - should he...well...NOT AID AND ABET EVIL in this world - the world that came out from him, the "new creation", two millenium of women, children, orphans, et al?...What happened to having "prevailed against the gates of hell" and all that? "Now they're working together?"...(Orthodox Judaism of course says "they always have been", since Christianity is Edom/Esav [though Christians were first unrelentingly persecuted by THE ROMANS...], Christianity is avodah zarah, etc, etc).
One could say "Maybe it is that he continues the tradition of answering 'no', since having experienced abandonment himself - he knows the Ultimate Plan of God's Will should go un-challenged by our...well, the petitionary prayers of his littlest and most desperate children that he act like he says he should in his own teaching and direct words...". hopefully the speaker finds his or her self trapped by defending the suffering of millions of others and evil in both the abstract and concrete. Maybe they respond with that infuriating quiet, staring, listening to suffering of others and making some "I don't have the answers" Jewish-mother facial expression and perhaps say "but I'll cry with you".
Save it. After centuries of it, it is now impotent, barren, simpering, disgusting acquiescence to evil and I'm sick of watching and living with it.
SO....Both of them - and often religion in general - now respond with "There'll be pie in the sky when you die", an adoption of the earlier heresies of Manicheanism or Gnosticism or the recourse to later lifetimes of karmic reconciliation and previous lifetimes for which one now does penance - either way, every aspect of this world is downgraded to emphasize the "veil of tears" sense; the imminence and emanance of death should be always in mind one way or another, the afterlife/next life and eternity you should look to - all in refutation and denial of core and central principles of each - and every - of their faiths ("On earth as it is in Heaven", "Judaism is about changing this world", "Dharma is about acknowledging suffering and the transcence of that which is not suffering", etc, ) to explain how so many of their faithful, despite each participating in the true faith/dharma, in true relationship to God/Divine/Satori suffering needlessly, senselessly, perennially. Without "growing" from suffering, simply dying in their resignation, desperation and despair - or worse, living in them.Zeh hu.
More than anything, I would like to be proven and shown wrong in my life and the life of others.
And sometimes the answer is no.And yet
, the whole "changing the world" scenario of Judaism - Judaism has indeed done so. Many would claim it's the mark of something special about it. But Christianity makes the same claim about the Resurrection - and I have to come to admit, the claim of the event (who can concretely speak for its reality?), has truly transformed the world, followed by Islam. YES a world of nastiness and pain and suffering "in the name of God" came about - and Jews are quick to add "what they did to 'us'" - understandably so - but nothing compared to the anti-semitism and anti-humanism of the mass-murdering Nazi and Communist regimes.
of Israel that includes
the senseless, unanswered suffering and exile of Israel over time has transformed the world.
And the narrative
of the Gosple that includes
the senseless, unanswered suffering of JC - and his essentially-unexpected claimed Resurrection - also transformed the world.
And I have no thought/feeling/primal scream to answer with.