10.03 Nadir and Refinement (pps.5-7)

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There are those who argue—and we are sympathetic with the thrust of their argument—that the Holocaust represents a new extreme in evil, by dint of its intensity, magnitude, organized structure, and overwhelmingly diabolical nature. There are others who argue that the Holocaust was essentially just another atrocity, albeit on a larger scale, in a long line of ignominious atrocities perpetrated against the Jew and mankind.

Regardless of which of these two general lines of reasoning is employed, no one can argue that our generation has not come face-to-face with gross abomination and evil. Our generation has counted the corpses of the tortured and brutalized; we may encounter survivors of Hell on a personal basis. We do not operate in the abstract. As a consequence, we exercise inherent rights of observation, analysis, and, if necessary, refinement of Jewish philosophical doctrine. With all due respect to the claims of abstract intellectual and historical analysis, the qualitative and emotional differences yielded by the present- day encounter with evil must lead us to scrutinize theological doctrine in our own light. Doctrine is always cogent in the


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