1020.00 PERSON TO PERSON (pps.155-158)
hard cover page 157
True, suffering and tragedy is personal and unique. And it is difficult to say how we ourselves would react to our own theodicy formulation in the face of overwhelming personal tragedyâ€” nor do we wish to find out. And perhaps it is not even of consequence. Regardless, core doctrine, historical reality, and the dictates of logic, in concert with the mandatory internal intellectual cohesiveness of Judaism, almost inexorably lead us to our formulation as a viable philosophical approach.
As paradoxical as the situation may be, theodicies are generally more appropriate for the witnesses-near and far-to tragedy, than for the more direct victims in the throes of their sorrow. The victim to tragedy has entered his own universe, which outsiders may penetrate emotionally long before tapping in to intellectually.
Buddhism would posit the wisdom that he who has been shot by an arrow has no use to inquire into the name of the archer, but rather must extract the arrow, heal the wound. Many rabbinic theologians would seem to posit that the arrow-shot victim’s challenge does not go beyond finding out how to extract the arrow within the framework of health and halachic requirements.583 Inquiry into questions of ultimate justice and purpose on the part of the arrow-shot victim, according to this viewpoint, is not appropriate.
However, philosophy and religion cannot isolate the victim into an airtight compartment. The tragedy of one individual, just as the spiritual upliftment of one individual, in varying degrees affects the whole. The whole, consequently, has an “interest” in the individual’s suffering, transcending the immediate halachic response.
The victim of a remote and forgettable tragedy is at the center of concentric circles of “interested parties.” Aside from the Divine “interest,” these interested parties range from family, through friends and acquaintances, through witnesses and fellow- countrymen, through the remote party a thousand years later who never even heard of the country in which this nameless victim to tragedy belonged. Yet, all ultimately have an “interest” in the response to this nameless tragedy.
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583 See also Soloveitchik, “B’ sod hayachid v’hayachad,” p. 233.
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