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    Leave God out

    The following article by Rabbi Raymond Apple appeared in the Perth Jewish newspaper, The Maccabean, on 16 June 2017.

    Two cries. Both heard on London Bridge or maybe at Manchester. The place doesn’t matter. Both were tragic wherever they were.

    One cry: “O my God! O my God!”

    The other, “This is for Allah”.

    Take the second cry first.

    It is being heard too much these days, too often, in too many places. Extreme members of a resurgent monotheistic faith swoop down on ordinary people with this cry.

    Like vultures on the attack? Worse. To compare them to vultures is an insult to the vultures.

    “This is for God”?

    If this is what God wants I’d rather be an atheist.

    If these are God’s policemen I’d rather not be a believer.

    “This is for God”?

    I’d rather have the Jewish God idea: “Let them forget Me but live by My Torah”.

    The legend says that when God offered the nations His Torah they all asked, “What does Your Torah say?”.

    One answer: “My Torah says, Do not kill!” Some nations said that wasn’t for them.

    Others were told, “Do not rob, do not commit adultery, do not bear false witness”. They said, “That’s not for us”.

    Those who accepted the Torah were told, “Love your neighbour, ease his burden, live with compassion, bind up the wounds”.

    They had their failings. The reality was that they didn’t always meet up to the heights of ethics, but this was what they aspired to.

    They didn’t live by the sword. Others didn’t die by their sword. God told them to cry for others’ pain. His word mattered more than their war cries.

    The message our age needs: leave the name of God out – but live by His word.

    Those who cry from the pain wreaked by the self-appointed avengers call, “O my God, O my God”. The cry is not abstract theology but real suffering.

    Does God come swooping down to save them? Unfortunately, not in the normal physical sense. But they cry for the loving Parent to pick them up and kiss them better.

    It’s a harsh cruel world and it doesn’t quite happen like that. The Psalmist says, “Though my mother and father forsake me, God will take me up”.

    If only.

    There is a Yiddish phrase that means, “A complaint against the Almighty!”

    The Almighty hears. He is thoroughly ashamed of those who claim to work in His name.

    “You think you’re acting for Me?” He says; “If you really loved Me you’d love My children! If I really mattered to you, you’d talk less about Me but fix My world!”

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