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January 25, 2013

Boteach to talk about tragedy

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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Boteach to talk about tragedy
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach will visit West Bloomfield Feb. 11 to talk about suffering.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — An internationally known rabbi and author will share the conclusions from his new treatise on human suffering in West Bloomfield this February.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach will visit the Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield Feb. 11 to discuss God and tragedy. Boteach, author of 29 books, released his latest, “The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering,” Jan. 7.

Adina Pergament, director at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit’s Seminars for Adult Jewish Enrichment, said she is expecting a very large crowd at the Berman and will not be surprised if it sells out.

“He has a very broad appeal across the various Jewish denominations,” she said. “He, himself, is Orthodox but he has a much wider following beyond the Orthodox community. He has written so many popular books, is such a media personality and has an extremely recognizable name.”

Boteach (pronounced Bo-tay-akh) said he refutes some of the platitudes that people give to suffering people in times of tragedy.

“This book says we have a right to challenge God,” he said. “Suffering doesn’t leave us wiser. ... It rather breaks us and leaves us depressed and cynical.”

In “The Fed-Up Man of Faith,” the author discusses the Bible and other religious teachings while describing the problem of pain and innocent people. He concludes that it is not blasphemous to question God when suffering strikes.

Boteach, 46, has served as a rabbi in England and is now an author and radio and TV personality. He said his experience in counseling taught him about dealing with people who are undergoing hardship.

Although the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School happened after Boteach finished the book, he said the 2011 Norway shootings and bombing that killed 77 people — most of them minors — had occurred while he was writing “The Fed-Up Man of Faith.”

“Unfortunately, you don’t have to look for incidents,” he said.

Boteach talked about the biblical Book of Job, which tells the story of a righteous man who suffers the loss of family, possessions and health. Job’s friends chide him because they believe he must have sinned. Job refrains from cursing God but demands an account for what has happened.

“God didn’t admonish him,” Boteach said. “God gave (Job) back everything he lost. Job says, ‘I deserve better,’ and God did not punish him for his defiance.”

Boteach said that, while God makes decisions about life and death, human beings must fulfill their responsibility to end suffering. “Our job is to always protect life,” he said. “And that’s what the Bible says: Choose life.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach will talk about God and tragedy at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield, 6600 W. Maple Road. Advance tickets are $18, and door tickets are $25. Go to www.theberman.org or call (248) 661-1900 for more information. Learn more about Boteach at www.shmuley.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.