I got this question via email from a reader of this blog. Here is an edited version:
Honestly, rabbi, you are very hypocritical. You say you don’t believe in the traditional creator God who judges us and sends us to heaven or hell, yet you counseled that woman who feared her nonChristian loved ones were going to hell as if you did believe. Why not just tell she’s trapped in a delusion and to get over it?
One of the few things I have learned so far in my life is never to use other people’s suffering as an opportunity to push my agenda. This woman didn’t want to hear how her damning god was not God, but how her god could love her relatives enough to welcome them into heaven with her. So I spoke with her from her own perspective rather than mine. I don’t think this is hypocritical; I think it is good pedagogy.