“Everyone?” I asked the rabbi. “He struck everyone?”
“Everyone,” the rabbi said.
“Yay!” my classmates cheered.
God, it seems, paints with a wide brush. He paints with a roller. In Egypt, said our rabbi, he even killed first-born cattle. He killed cows. If he were mortal, the God of Jews, Christians and Muslims would be dragged to The Hague. And yet we praise him. We emulate him. We implore our children to be like him.
Perhaps now, as missiles rain down and the dead are discovered in mass graves, is a good time to stop emulating this hateful God. Perhaps we can stop extolling his brutality. Perhaps now is a good time to teach our children to pass over God — to be as unlike him as possible.
“And so God killed them all,” the rabbis and priests and imams can preach to their classrooms. “That was wrong, children.”
“God threw Adam out of Eden for eating an apple,” they can caution their students. “That’s called being heavy-handed, children.”
Cursing all women for eternity because of Eve’s choices?
“That’s called collective punishment, children,” they can warn the young. “Don’t do that.”
“Boo!” the children will jeer.
I was raised strictly Orthodox. Old school. Shtetl fabulous. Every year, at the beginning of the Seder, we welcome in the hungry and poor Jews who can’t afford to have a Seder themselves. It’s a wonderfully human gesture. A few short hours of God later, at the end of the Seder, we open the front door and call out to Him, “Pour out thy wrath upon the nations that did not know you!”