I Don't Know - Wednesday, October 11

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 4:20pm -- Rabbi Shalom Lewis

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

We have short attention spans when reviewing the world around us.

News has a limited shelf life as the headlines of today slip rapidly into history. Events no matter how dramatic, how critical, how momentous are not sustainable in our fickle culture. We are always in search of the next scoop. The next bold printed story. And yet, the massacre in Las Vegas stubbornly persists, refusing exile to the back page. There has been no closure to this horrific affair and we crave answers.

Nature abhors a vacuum. We abhor a mystery and want to know why a man methodically targeted thousands, wounded hundreds and killed scores of innocents. We are baffled by the slaughter and our curious, restless psyche demands an explanation.  

One of the most fascinating books I’ve read in recent years was a monumental work entitled Explaining Hitler. The author provides a vast array of theories to try and unravel why Hitler was the monster he was. At the end of an impressively documented 426 pages, we the reader are painfully unsatisfied and share a frustration with the writer. Add up all the research and it simply does not provide an answer. We are as stymied at the end as we were at the beginning. In Jewish tradition, at the completion of a puzzling Talmudic text that is insoluble, the term Teiku finishes up the discussion. Very loosely translated it means "We just don’t know." The sages understood that in life, sometimes, there are just no answers.

Back to Las Vegas and Stephen Paddock. Why did he do what he did with such chilling psychopathic efficiency? What transformed him into a mass murderer? What happened that catapulted him into a place of hideous, cold-blooded evil? Bad parenting? Bad wiring? An obsession to be famous at any cost? A total eclipse of the heart? There are certainly explanations for everything but, perhaps,  they are simply too complex or too deeply buried or too impenetrable and with a reluctant, unsatisfied shrug, we move on. Discovering that critical fact, the tipping point, the silver bullet can all too often be an impossible quest. Why Der Fuhrer? Why Paddock? Teiku. Sometimes, "We just don’t know," has to be the answer.

  

 

 

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