This afternoon, as Jews, alongside all people of good will, around the world prayed for the health and welfare of ailing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Rev. Pat Robertson stated on his “700 Club” television show that the illness struck Prime Minister Sharon because, citing the biblical book of Joel, “He was dividing God’s land.” Rev. Robertson went on to state: “And I would say, Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations or the United States of America. God says, ‘This land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.’”
In response, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, issued the following statement:
Rev. Robertson’s remarks, as reported to me, are deeply troubling. The thrust of his remarks is that Prime Minister Sharon’s life-threatening illness is a punishment for the disengagement from Gaza. No person can know G-d’s reasons for human illnesses or calamities. That G-d’s ways are often inscrutable is a basic and accepted component of our belief system and that of the world’s great religions. Jewish prophets from Moses on found that G-d’s ways were mysterious. Why “Tzadik v’ra lo” – bad things happen to good people – is a question about which libraries of books have been written, but the bottom line is that human humility demands that we admit our ignorance and bow to His will.
We continue to pray that G-d who is the “rofeh cholim” – Healer of the ill – bless Mr. Sharon who, whether one agrees or disagrees with his specific policy positions, is a person who dedicated his life to Jewish people and the Jewish state, with healing and recovery and bless his family and all of Israel with comfort and peace.