1060.00 UNIFIED FORMULATION: WRAP-UP (pps.163-165)
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hundreds of God’s children nakedly, painfully, humiliatingly, and desperately being asphyxiated, hour after hour, day after day, year after year? Does Judaism just shrug its shoulders and go on to other, less intractable matters? Would the Patriarch Abraham, who argued so tenaciously for invidious Sodom, have been satisfied with consigning the Holocaust to the netherworld of the “unfathomable”?
We have attempted to make the case that potential/ knowledge/ evil/ good/ freedom/ privacy/ human dignity/ Providence/ Divine consciousness/ are all interlocked with each other in a cosmic dynamic geometric relationship, with man as the protagonist; that as man ascends in knowledge, and implicitly in his demand for greater freedom, the Divine Face of Rachamim (Mercy) is preempted by the Divine core of Potential.596
Man quests for God as the major component of his spiritual quest.597 But he will also rape, pillage, and murder on the way to the Holy Land in the name of the Holy Crusade in 1096, and will send tens of thousands of his young to die in the marshes of Iraq in the 1980s, so that his Ayatollah’s commands are obeyed. All in the name of God. All in the name of a great spiritual quest.598 Man can be implacable in his resolution to serve his God. Nothing, but nothing, will get in his way.
Man quests for political liberty as part of his quest for freedom. He will electrify the world and launch a French Revolution in the name of liberty-and will then butcher his opponents. Man is implacable in his quest for “liberty” too.599
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596 Cf. See Buber, in Noveck, Contemporary Jewish Thought, p. 256. “In this our own time, one asks again and again: how is a Jewish life still possible after Oswiecim? . . . How is a life with God still possible in a time in which there is an Oswiecim? The estrangement has become too cruel, the hiddenness too deep. One can still ‘believe’ in the God who allowed those things to happen. but can one still speak to Him? Can one still hear His word? Can one still, as an individual and as a people, enter at all into a dialogic relationship with Him? Can one still call to Him? Dare we recommend to the survivors of Oswiecim, the Job of the gas chambers: ‘Call to Him, He is kind, for His mercy endurest- forever’?”
Note: While man pays the price of increased vulnerability to evil as the Divine omniscience is increasingly contracted, the other extreme was not without its particular severe drawbacks. The Jews at Sinai, the ultimate example of man exposed to a high level of Divine omniscience and presence, underwent agonies in the Divine presence. They beseeched Moses to shield them from overexposure to the Divine presence. In their new freedom from Pharaoh, and in spite of their God-granted freedom vis-a-vis God, the Jews of Sinai were nevertheless in a state of artificial freedom.
The Jews of the Exodus were the generation, which in spite of having witnessed God’s power and munificence. trembled at the reports of the advance scouts. They were a generation doomed to die out completely; they were tainted and ultimately unworthy of entering the promised land. They were slaves within their newfound freedom. Slave mentalities in free-man bodies. A severe price is paid by mortals coming face-to-face with Divine interven- tion. An entire generation, including its leaders, was doomed to preclusion from fulfilling an important potentiality. For, however great its immediate benefits, Divine intervention, even for the purpose of mundane liberation, inevitably and devastatingly decreases man’s freedom and truncates his growth potential. (See Numbers 13. With only two exceptions, the first group of twelve scouts sent out by Moses to reconnoiter the Land of Canaan returned with disheartening reports. Ten of the twelve scouts argued against any attempt to conquer the land. The Jews of Sinai grew fainthearted at the reports and lamented their fate. For their lack of confidence, the Sinai generation was doomed to die out in the desert.)
597 “[Religion] is an energy of huge potency but of ambiguous character.” Professor William E. Hocking, as cited by Milton Konovitz in “Is Religion the Foundation of Morality?” Midstream, June-July 1985, p. 17.
598 “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as they do from religious conviction.” Pascal.
599 See Herder, Yet Another Philosophy of History (1774), sec. 3, as cited in Barnard, J.G. Herder on Social and Political Culture, p. 2 19. “Liberty, sociability and equality, as they are sprouting everywhere at present, have caused, and will cause, a thousand evils to be committed in their name.”
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