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Enjoy the Fun of Getting, But Teach the Power of Giving

To these perennial questions, I offer some answers — not to close a conversation, but to broaden one. I do not claim to know anything you don’t know, but if I can help you remember what you already know, I am blessed.—Rabbi Rami ShapiroI asked my pastor where God was in this summer’s killings in Aurora, Colorado, and he said the Book of Job teaches that when bad things happen to “good” people it is God telling us that they really weren’t good people after all. Do you agree?No, I don’t! This is a hurtful and ignorant idea, and one that God actually rebukes in the Book of Job. The reason bad things happen to good people is the same reason that good things happen to good people: things just happen. When we try to make sense out of the senseless we too often take refuge in nonsense. There is no explanation for tragedies like Aurora; there is only a humbling of the self and an opening of the heart: something your pastor seems to have missed entirely.I heard in Bible study that God is an artist and the universe is his canvas. I like the metaphor, but why would God paint such a chaotic world?Tohu va vohu ― wil …

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality.

He has this to say about religion: “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”

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