Posted by: L. E. Barnes | October 8, 2010

Missed Opportunities

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield posted this on his blog, Windows and Doors, yesterday:

This week’s Torah reading centers on Noah, the flood and its aftermath. While there are many comments one could, and even should, make about a story which introduces the concept of God as a remorseful, rage-filled, killer who stops just one family short of genocide, I will not go there – at lease not right now.

Instead, I simply want to share a simple image, ask an even simpler question, and wait for your answers.

The image:


The question (okay, really two):

What opportunity have you forgotten to take advantage of, and what can you do to still take advantage of it? Try and remember that very few opportunities have really gone the way of the dinosaurs – at least that’s my experience.

Good questions, Rabbi. Or maybe it’s not that we forget to take advantage of an opportunity so much that we get lazy or don’t realize that something is in fact an opportunity? Anyway, I’m sure we can all point to missed opportunities in our lives, whether through negligence or ignorance. I certainly could have made some different choices and taken advantage of things that came my way. For instance, I passed up chances to make better educational and career choices, but I can still pursue career goals/possibilities that I’ve considered. So even though I regret some decisions I’ve made, all is not lost! The good rabbi takes the right approach in guiding us toward the positive–focusing on what we can still do, rather than on what is over and done with.

And I’ll admit his remark at the beginning of his blog post touches on something that I’m sure plenty of Jews and Christians alike have struggled with: what to make of certain stories of the Bible, such as the Genesis Flood or the destruction of Jericho, that seem to portray God as “a remorseful, rage-filled killer.” I’ve wrestled with it too; in fact, as I was reapproaching Christianity after my seven years in the wastelands of agnosticism, such biblical passages presented my last “hurdle” to overcome before I felt I could honestly believe in and worship the God of the Bible. And a number of atheists/agnostics point to those parts of the Bible as reasons for rejecting belief in God.

But I digress… (And you can probably understand all the more why Rabbi Hirschfield decided not to go into that issue in his post.)

Your thoughts/experiences?



  1. I love the cartoon. And the rabbi asks good questions. I will have to ponder them awhile.

  2. […] Missed Opportunities […]

  3. The Rabbi raises some interesting questions. And, you make some good points, too, Evan – especially the fact that we sometimes don’t realize that something is in fact, an opportunity.

    That’s true for me, at least when it comes to seizing the “little” opportunities that we have each day. I can have some serious tunnel vision sometimes and get caught up in what I want or “need” to do that I miss the “little” opportunities to render service, or cheer someone up, etc.

    I mentioned this on my blog this week, in my Fearless Friday post when I prayed for patience! lol!

    • Little opportunities surround all the time, and it’s easy to just take things for granted much of the time. I too get caught up in my own little world and overlook what I can do for others.

  4. Love the cartoon. Regarding the angry God, it was the way we (man) thought of Him – as in human terms, not in His divine essence.

    God only permits chastisement in order to bring us closer to Him, not because He is angry. When, through our own fault, we have set up false gods against Him, He often leaves us to discover the unpleasant consequences. Then we are more ready to hear Him. He is the God who never ceases to call us to Himself and this side of the grave He is forever giving us chances to deepen our relationship with Him. After death, we reap what we have sown in this life.

    • Of course, I’m not sure the Genesis flood account is to be taken literally (just as I don’t believe in a literal Garden of Eden or a literal 6-day creation), so I’m not sure how best to interpret the story, especially as to what it tells us about God. Perhaps it is best seen as God letting people reap what they sow.

  5. Absolutely loved the cartoon! As to the questions unanswered by the rabbi’s “remorseful,rage-filled, killer” suppositions, I think that Genesis indicates growth in coming to as expanding understanding of God’s ways. God is growing us up along with the Church. A few days ago (Oct.8) The Office of Readings included a teaching on the development of doctrine by St Vincent of Lerins. It seems part of God’s plan that Salvation History develops as Time moves on through the ages. God starts with a plan (seed) to make things gone wrong right again and infinitely better in the end, the very end, in Christ and His Church, the fulfillment (the Flower) of Man and History.

    • Thanks for your comments. I’ve heard others give similar interpretations of this and other harsh passages from the Old Testament. Perhaps it’s best to see the OT in terms of gradual unfolding of God’s revelations, both about Himself and His plans.

  6. […] Evan’s Cove and Rabbi Brad Hirschfield at Windows and […]

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