Wednesday, June 16th 2021   |

Off the Pulpit: Is it my fault?

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

When something bad or tragic happens to people, they will often say, “what did I do to deserve this?”
Many people insist that nothing happens without a reason. Karma, or what you put out there, is the cause for whatever you may be suffering today. I don’t believe that is the way the world works. Rather it has always appeared to me that much of life is random, and our challenge is how we react to that which is given us. Rather than arrange each event, God gives us strength to meet them as they come.

In the Talmud, it says if one plants stolen wheat by rights it should not grow, but “the world goes on its way.” In other words, things happen that our morality does not affect. Why then do we blame ourselves, when we know that the good often suffer and the wicked flourish? Because it is easier to be guilty than to be helpless. If we are guilty, we can change our behavior next time. But if much of what happens is random, we have to accept that we cannot control everything.

So seek to affect those things you can, and to meet with resilience, courage and faith those you cannot. Amidst the unpredictability of life, our attitude and responses are our charge and help fashion our destiny.

(Rabbi David Wolpe is the senior rabbi of Sinai Temple of Los Angeles.)

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