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Angry with G‑d

Angry with G‑d

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Artwork by Ariel De Guglielmi
Artwork by Ariel De Guglielmi

Question:

I am extremely angry with G‑d for what He did to my family. I used to at least go to synagogue on the High Holidays, but for the last 12 months I have stopped going, and I don’t light candles before Shabbat anymore.

Since I despise G‑d, am I still obligated to fast on Yom Kippur? I have absolutely no intention of telling him that he is great and merciful, and all the other praises mentioned throughout the Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services.

Response:

I wish I could know you better before responding, but I’ll just share some of my own feelings for now.

You’re angry at G‑d. That’s okay. Every real, deep, and significant relationship has multiple facets. You're in pain, and G‑d could have created this world so that you would have no pain. And, regardless of the source of your pain, you’re angry at Him and feel that He should do Yom Kippur to ask for your forgiveness. Fair enough.

I have a very old memory of being a child, getting very angry at my mother, lashing out at her, and she saying to me, “I’m sorry.” I don’t remember the reason I was angry, or the context, just that tiny sliver of time. There’s another memory I have of my six-year-old son in terrible frustration and anger (also over some forgotten incident). He lashed out at me and hit me, and I held him . . . tightly, tightly . . . and murmured, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry . . .”

It was right then that I understood what my mother had said to me when I was angry at her. It wasn’t an apology. It was sorrow at my pain. As I felt sorrow at my son’s pain, I told him “I’m sorry” because I saw how hurt he was. So hurt that he lashed out at me, his mother, whose very existence was to love and protect him. His mother, whom he dearly loved, depended on and looked to for all his needs. So angry in the moment that he hit me.

And I embraced him.

Yet I wonder at these events. As a child, I lashed out at my mother, but I didn’t turn my back and walk away from her. And then, as a mother, I absorbed my own son’s anger with open arms. He didn’t turn his back on me, and I guess that as long as we were in combat, we were engaging each other.

I’m not going to tell you what to do. You’re hurt, and you’re angry. However, know that whatever way you decide to respond to G‑d, He’ll be there embracing you, even as you kick and scream and pummel at His shins. He’ll be there—just stay engaged.

So much more to say on this subject, but I would like to hear your thoughts first.

Mrs. Bronya Shaffer is a noted globetrotting lecturer on Jewish women's issues, and serves as a personal counselor and mentor for women, couples and adolescents. Mrs. Shaffer, a responder for Chabad.org’s Ask the Rabbi service, lives with her ten children in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
David Ariel De Guglielmi was born in Ortona, where he attended art school. His success led to his artwork being exhibited in Milan, Genoa, New York and Venice. In 2000 he began his spiritual journey, which ultimately led him to the Torah, which with its rich symbolism and messages has been the focus of his recent work.
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Michael Salem February 7, 2017

It is OK to be angry at G-d, yet know this: G-d still loves you and understands you As Father and Mother of our lives, our bodies, our souls- G-d knows each of us intimately, and has experienced many of the same thoughts and feelings we are going through today. And sometimes, it feels like G-d is far, far away. If you feel this way- here's something to try. Take a break from G-d. And instead, each night, think about 3 people who you care about deeply, (living or deceased) and wish them good thoughts, and hope they are well from the bottom of your heart. Then write their names down. Then, if possible, call one of those people on your list the next day and ask them how they are- and really listen to what they say to you. Don't bring up anything about yourself unless they ask. You're the one calling- so ask caring questions about them and their families. Whether you call someone or not- the next night, write down 3 more names of people you care about. Do this for 6 nights, and try to call at least 2 or 3 names on your list of 18 during the week.
Try to write down 3 names (it could be someone you haven't thought of in 25 years) each night for 4 weeks. And try to talk to 3 or 4 of these people on the phone, and ask how they are faring. After 4 weeks, turn to G-d, in a state of love, grace and mercy- and ask G-d to help the 3 people who you found to be having the most difficulty. And to prove your serious about asking for help- tell G-d that you will give up (fast?) some selfish thing you do for one week, in order that G-d may help those people who need G-d's help the most. Then, on Shabbat, light a candle, say a prayer and thank G-d you're not alone in this world at all. Amen Reply

Karen December 20, 2016

I would like to ask the questioner what it is that - G-d - as you understand it to be - did to your family which caused you to think and feel as you have expressed? Reply

Karen December 20, 2016

I hope the person who shared their very vulnerable thoughts and feeling's returns and shares further.

Also as an additional sharing for your potential consideration should you be following this forum - I would just like to say that - as we go through life and experience wide ranges of interactions with others we can often fall prey to internalizing the negatives. If we have nothing solid beyond ourselves to counter with, we can become emotionally ensnared and, thus, begin to see G-d through the negative lens of those experiences - so to speak.

It is imho - absolutely vital to learn separation skills for wellness of our heart - mind - soul and spirit.

I also want to fully support Bronya Shaffer's comment concerning the multifaceted elements inherent in relationships; I have found this to be only so very true. Reply

Karen December 19, 2016

The question and following answer above reminded me of Psalm 139 with emphasis on the two verses below. The answer as penned by Bronya Shaffer was beautiful - kind and in full unison with the very heart of G-d revealed in Psalm 139.


139:7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. Reply

Aaron London July 12, 2016

Diana Leah, I totally agree with you and feel your pain. I ask myself are we part of a chessboard of life where somebody is playing with our health and wellbeing? Think of it this way, God and the Devil are playing a game to amuse themselves, as each one throws a winning hand they are able to choose which people suffer and which don't. On this game the Devil seems to get the upper hand where many good people are given various life threatening ailments and the wicked are blessed. Blasphemy? no! Reply

Dina Leah Maine July 11, 2016

Angry at G-d I just read the Q&A & all your comments. I'm glad I'm not alone. All that being angry at G-d has done is to make me bitter & ask the usual Why Me? I've have had my disabilities for 20 yrs & when I thought I was getting better, a different problem arose. My husband is due for bladder surgery w/biopsy.
I grew up in a non-religious Jewish home. So, it's been recently that I've been learning more about Judaism w/my search for healing. When my brother was murdered at age 23, I asked the same questions.
I thought it was wrong to be angry w/G-d, but after reading here, I realize I'm not alone. I, too, still don't feel His presence. I pray, & feel I'm talking to myself. I wonder if He is really listening & really cares that I'm suffering. It's hard to feel when it seems He just is adding more to my suffering. I pray for healing, but instead I feel I'm being punished. If He cares, why doesn't He relieve the pain? I wish I felt His embrace, but I feel nothing. How do I really know He loves me? Reply

M L K Brockton Ma April 1, 2016

G-d One can be angry with God for many reasons . Seeing our people being torched Hilter was not the only one . Suffering from illness or in bereavement of that special some one . Why me is one of the common questions asked . It appears that G-d is always at fault . We all strike out at G-d for many reasons it is part of our human nature. Reading the Bible tells us of many instances where we can say again why G-d . Also the Bible explains to us the answers to these questions I just stated and many more but they are not acceptable . Reply

Victoria California March 21, 2016

Gods authority over humanity and deep love for his people. Keep praying, Keep faithful.

The most challenging concepts is that God created the heavens and the earth it the concept confronts the modern mind. Yet the vast galaxy we live in spins at 490,000 mph even at this speed , our galaxy still needs 200 million years to make one rotation. Not to mention there are over one billion other galaxies just like ours in the universe. To say this " just happened"requires more faith than to believe God is behind these amazing statistics.
God did not need to create, he chose to create the universe. Why? God is love and love is best expressed towards something or someone else. So the world and people are an expression of his love.
This creation story teaches us much about God and ourselves. He is creative. He is distinct from his creation. He is in control of the world. We are valuable to him.
He declared the earth was formless and empty and that his spirit was hovering over the waters. (Paraphrased from a study application bible) Genesis 1:1-2:3 Reply

Yiru Los Angeles June 11, 2014

Angry with G_d, you say Jonah lost children, etc.? Could you be thinking of Job? Reply

suzi orlando, fl April 3, 2014

ANGRY WITH G-D To Anonymous in Fairlawn N.J. I have been reading comments, & still feel deeply for Anonymous. If you still read, &/or write, I hope things improved for you,& you let some good people into your life. I'm at particularly low point, insecure,fearful, & even panicked. I continue to pray,for my loved ones,our country,& Israel. My prayers are for vulnerable,old, young, infirm,homeless, jobless, foodless, our animals, all who depend on others to speak out since they can't. I pry for those who don't have choices, except depending on those who have power to make laws, rules, etc. I am some of the above mentioned, but when I pray, I'm sadder for others than myself. Naturally, I ask for the help I want, they come after thanking G-D for all he has given me, I used to say the good things, now, for all, in hopes there's reason. I found good that came out of evil I encountered. Still wish G-D had protected me from it. I pray 2 b better person, closer to HIM, and feel he loves me, like I felt when a child. This helps a bit. Reply

Aaron London April 2, 2014

Angry at God I can fully understand your anger and I too have stopped praying (for myself) and instead of lighting Shabbat candles turn on the TV or go out for a drive. There is no easy fix and to be honest the fix is not needed or wanted. I have made a wish that there is to be no Minyan at my Funeral and have requested that it be a private one without family or friends, so much is my total lack of love for God that no prayers are wanted because they fall on deaf ears. Is he merciful? NO why? Look at the starvation, Poverty, Pain and suffering that the world has every day, and my pain will never go away. So yes it is ok to be angry with God. Reply

Jewgirl Israel October 24, 2013

To Linda That you are able to write that you’re suffering was unbearable show in fact that you where able to overcome… All our suffering is for a purpose something that we need to learn from or HaShem would have not sent it us, even if we don’t understand it…Keep your faith it is all for the best… Reply

Linda Balto., MD October 23, 2013

I am faithful to G-D but there were times that I could not bear the suffering that I was dealing with, so don't think G-d only gives you what you can bear because for
some of us it is just not the case. Reply

Ron Fishman lansdowne, pa June 5, 2011

Angry with G_d You are in good company. King David ran for his life wondering why G-d allowed his enemies to be victorious.
Jonah suffered with loss of children, wealth, and health but he never lost his Faith in almighty G-d. It is easy to say you trust G--d when things are good but a test of faith can only come during tribulation in each of our lives. Our testimony to the one true G-d is how we handle hard times...unfortunately when things are too good we forget about Hashem.
Isa 55:9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Faith says that Hashem cares for us deeply regardless of the circunstances. I pray that all who are angry find Peace in Him. This only took me 30 years to figure out and am still struggling with the "why" of liife. Reply

IF RH, Israel March 15, 2011

Fairlawn, NJ Don’t give up and be happy! I just recently went through it. The only way to overcome it is by praying more. Light a candle and read also Psalms and talk to G-D with your own words, like you would talk to a friend. The evil inclination is doing everything to keep you from G-D don’t be frighten just say, you won’t win. When your day is miserable go put some music on or start singing, do everything to feel good. Keep in mind the evil inclination can’t stand it when somebody is happy, it will have no choice but to leave. G-D knows what you going through so stay in constant communication with Him. So put a smile on your face, you will feel bettter soon. Never despair, G-D is with you when you keep that faith you will overcome everything. Reply

Anonymous Fairlawn, NJ March 14, 2011

angry at G-d I haven't posted here for a little while because I've been trying to work things out but there is one thing that I'm feeling that I really wish I didn't feel or believe. It seems to me that every time, and I mean every time that I start to pray or try to get closer to G-d, things get even worse. I don't think this is in my imagination. Yesterday I did something religiously that I hadn't done for a long time and I had the worst day in terms of my life that I had had in a long time. It's gotten to the point where I am genuinely afraid to pray. I know this sounds odd, and I am not an odd person, nor am I looking to disbelieve, but this is a real occurrance. I would really like to know if anyone else feels this way or if anyone has any answers to what seems to be this very true happening. I feel that G-d does not want me to pray or to think He is on my side. It's almost as though he is making fun of my thoughts. I am really suffering so any help would really be appreciated. Reply

Anonymous Omaha, NE November 29, 2010

When do they stop? This is not something you can fully answer in 1000 characters. Is the world repaired yet? Too, some sufferings are actually blessings in disguise. Example, my brother totalled his car only to end up with a better car afterwards which he needed. I'm currently not able to work, yet it allows me time to help my elderly parents and others. Recently it was on the news that if you have a roof over your head, food to eat, and clothes to wear you are something like 70 percent plus better off than most others in the world. If you also have a little bit of money or discretionary income to spend you are then 90 percent plus better off than most others in rest of the world. And G-d does not let anyone suffer more than what they are able to handle, so I try to take comfort in that. I emphasize with those who long for an end to their sufferings. There is a larger picture, important reasoning for suffering. I believe that if each of you knew these reasons you would happily choose to suffer. Reply

Anonymous Fairlawn, NJ November 29, 2010

I also just started realizing that there are alot of posts about this and feel a little comforted that I am not so alone. But after alot of reading and thinking-very deeply-I have come to realize that really G-d has not ever taken care of me. Nor did He send people in my life who could either. So I realize that I have to take care of myself. I know that He does take care of other people, because so many people thank Him for all the blessings He's given them. That's just not my reality. Who knows? Maybe this is what G-d wants me to do-to take care of myself because no-one else does despite the fact that I take care of many, many people. It's a very harsh way, I think, to be taught a lesson, but maybe that's it. I just never thought that I would be feeling this way. It's so sad. Reply

suzi orlando, fl November 28, 2010

Angry with G-D I don’t gain in others pain, it allows me 2 see I am not alone. Maybe it is semantics; I don’t believe G-D mocks. I have said to HIM, & friends, “If this is a test, when do they stop?” Even when I am extremely unhappy, I don’t always feel anger with G-D. I just feel like a student who is dismayed with all the homework heaped upon me. I get discouraged, angered, hurt, & saddened, as much, or more than anyone. It just is a surprise that I am not alone. Why would I not know this was universal, or at least shared by many? Maybe my own ego prevented me from considering, others were feeling similar. Personally, it doesn’t compute that G-D, our CREATOR, would find pleasure in hurting us, for hurt sake. I am beginning 2 think there IS a “larger,” important, & not humanly acceptable rationale 4 what happens. There has 2 be in order 4 me 2 be able 2 exist & be happy, knowing all we have knowledge of, and still look forward to the future while here on earth, & the hereafter. Reply

Nikki Gastonia, NC November 27, 2010

Angry with G-d I hear and understand everything you have all said. Maybe I am being tested. But if that's the case, shouldn't there be an end to it? Nothing has been easy since I was around 20 years old. I'm not 63. When does G-d call a hault and say it's enough, I think it's time to stop? Reply

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