Sunday, November 27, 2022

Not blaming god for cancer

Mishpacha magazine had a story a while ago about a Rabbi Meister who died from cancer. They printed the following quote from him:
I have never had a problem accepting that Hashem has given me life-threatening cancer at age 54 in 2010. Our bodies contain trillions of cells, and every minute of every day millions of cells are dying and new cells are forming. Every new cell that forms has the potential to have cancerous mutations, and millions or billions of times a day our bodies have potential cancers forming. Hashem prevents that from happening through our immune systems and through metabolic processes we don’t even know about. By age 54, I probably had 500 trillion chances for a cancerous cell to form and survive and grow into a life-threatening cancer, and it only happened once. So Hashem stopped me from getting cancer 499,999,999,999,999 times and only let it happen once. I would call that remarkable protection. Considering I never took the time to thank Hashem 499,999,999,999,999 times for not giving me cancer, I don’t see how I could possibly complain that He let one cancerous cell survive and multiply. That would seem very ungrateful.
I fell out of my chair reading this. Let’s think about what he said. He is so grateful that Hashem protected him from those nasty cancer cells until he was 54. Well who does he think created cancer? That same Hashem. Hashem is the one who created us in such a way that there is such a great risk of cancer so why thank him for providing inadequate protection? The way he describes it Hashem is only responsible for the good, but the fact that people are made to get cancer isn’t Hashem’s fault, why not? 
He then gave a ridiculous analogy:
Put another way: Let’s say I was in a house surrounded by attacking Nazis and hundreds of American soldiers surrounded the house and fought off the Nazis for weeks, suffering hundreds of dead and wounded. Eventually the Nazis broke through and captured me. Could I possibly be mad at the American soldiers who defended my house for weeks and suffered hundreds of casualties? Of course not. That would be terribly ungrateful. I would thank them for the effort they put in and thank them for protecting me for so long, and I would not hold it against them that eventually the enemy won.
The difference is that in the case of cancer Hashem created the Nazis and sent them to your doorstep and then came to protect you and failed. 
IMHO a much better analogy is imagine a doctor who intentionally shoots someone in the chest and then performs a complex operation to try to save his life. Is anyone going to praise the doctor for his effort? Will the victim thank the doctor for saving his life? The answer is no, the victim will ask the doctor why did you shoot me?
The same applies here, why thank Hashem for rescuing you from a bad situation of his making? Hashem created a flawed human body which gets cancer, and created a flawed immune system which doesn’t always work, why is that praiseworthy?


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