20.01 Problematics (pps.9-10)

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reason, traditional justifications of God’s ways tend to read like cases of conflicting interests.30
Theology and theodicy are about perfection and absolutes:

• Is God perfectly good?
• Is God perfectly powerful?
• Is God perfectly omniscient?
• Is God perfectly benevolent?
• Is God perfect?
• Is God not by definition perfect?
• If yes, why gross evil?31

The question then focuses on man’s limits. It focuses on the limits of man’s abilities of comprehension vis-Ã -vis the Divine and the Divine interaction with man.32
Century after century most theodicies have either limited aspects of God’s power, limited man’s claim to virtue, or limited man’s ability to comprehend God’s virtue. None of these options is truly satisfying to religious man of reason—who wishes to maintain God’s power, man’s virtue, and man’s ability to comprehend.33

During World War II, the pious men of a makeshift little synagogue in the Lodz Ghetto spent a whole day fasting, praying, reciting psalms, and then, having opened the holy ark, convoked a solemn Din Torah (Torah tribunal) and forbade God to punish his people any further.34

The pious in the Lodz Ghetto tale refuse to limit concepts of God’s power: they refuse to deny man’s virtue; and they refuse to deny man’s ability to comprehend. Rather, they will stand with their concepts of God and man intact, and they will invoke God to stay God’s hand. While at first glance their action seems bizarre, the theological bases of this action are well grounded in Jewish tradition. In essence, in their profound faith and confidence in God and man, they invoke the logic of theodicy back on itself.35

——————- NOTES ——————-

30 Schulweis, “Suffering and Evil,” in Great Jewish Ideas, 198.

31 Cf. Schulweis, Evil and the Morality of God, p. 31.

32 Cf. ibid., p. 135. “For those who find consolation in the promise of a world controlled by an unfathomable Agent and of an ultimate reward, nothing can or should be said.”
Cf. ibid., p. 115. “Theodicies, Kant wrote, offer an ‘apology in which the defense is worse than the charge [and which] require no confutation, and may certainly be fully left to the detestation of everyone who has the least sense or spark of morality.’ ”
Cf. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Joyful Wisdom (New York: Ungar, 1964), bk. V, sec, 357. “To look upon nature as if it were proof of the goodness and care of a God; to interpret history in honor of a divine reason, as a constant testimony to a moral order in the world and a moral final purpose; to explain personal experiences as pious men have long enough explained them, as if everything were a dispensation or intimation of Providence, something planned and set on behalf of the salvation of the soul; all that is passed; it has conscience against it.”

33 Cf. Schulweis, Evil and the Morality of God, p. 2.

34 Fackenheim, The Jewish Return into History, p. 281.

35 See Berkovits, Faith After the Holocaust, p. 78. ” . . . the ghettos were sheer luxury compared to the concentration camps, of which a German official reported home that Dante’s hell was mere comedy compared to them.”

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