I'm in the midst of one of those "inspiring stories" books which basically tries to strengthen people's faith by giving stories and theological explanations of how people remain strong when "bad things happen to good people".
What I'm getting out of it is that, actually, Judaism has no explanations for this, other than saying that everything comes from God, everything is ultimately for the good, and it is our responsibility to bless the bad as well as the good, and try to increase our strength and faith in the face of both kids of occurances.
One can only ponder this while the bodies and survivors are being plucked out of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. It's beyond imagination what has happened to a modern metropolis, and to American citizens living in the year 2005. The pictures and stories are reminicent of a third world country, or a time dozens or hundreds of years ago when rescue work was not as advanced as it is today.
How could the American government have taken so long to respond to the disaster? Why weren't they ready to move in the moment they realized that something was happening? Why did it take so long to mobilize transportation?
But above all, why did so many innocent people, sick people, old people, children, babies, have to suffer?
This was a man-made disaster in that the people in charge allowed a natural disaster to get so far out of hand. It wasn't evil, it wasn't a sudden tsunami that swept people away...it was pure and simple incompetence.
If I was one of those people who was standing in water for days, surrounded by human waste, garbage, and dead bodies, would I be able to thank God for testing me? Should I?
At what point is the breaking point? How did some people come out of the Holocaust more committed to Judaism and Torah than ever, while others were so traumatized that they hid their Jewish roots from their own children? How can some people endure, and maintain their belief and love for God in the most imaginable circumstances, which go on for years, while others break? What about me...if I was given the choice between being hacked to death or converting, would I stay Jewish? Watching my children being hacked to death? Could I resist? Should I? Would I?