30.01 Outline (pps.16-20)

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Finite man cannot understand infinite God.48

God’s ways are inscrutable.49

God has His ultimate purposes known to Him. Man must have faith in God’s justice.50

God’s ways will be made understandable to us in the next world.51

Group II. Manis punished for his sins, failings.

The iniquities of the fathers are visited upon the sons (“vertical responsibility”).52

Man is punished in this world to increase his reward in the world-to-come.

There is no suffering without sin.53

All men are imperfect and sin in some way.54

Suffering is due to evil deeds or neglect of Torah study.55

Group III. Hester Panim

Hester Panim —hiding of the Divine face— a temporary abandonment of the world, a suspension of God’s active surveillance.56

This concept is almost never applied as a general response to theodicy, but rather as a response to a particular catastrophic series of events. Major attention is devoted to this theme later on.

Group IV A. Other mainstream traditional responses regarding the suffering of the tzaddik (“saintly” individual) in particular.

When permission is given to the angel of destruction, he makes no difference between righteous and wicked.57

——————- NOTES ——————-

48 See outline of talmudic discussion on this viewpoint in Ramban, Gate of Reward, chap. 4, in idem, Writings and Discourses, vol. 2, p. 454.
Cf. Dov Noy’s “The Jewish Theodicy Legend.” in Fields of Offerings, a festschrift for Professor Raphael Patai, edited by Victor Sanua, (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press/Herzl Press, 1985), which, according to the review by Harris Lenowitz in Midstream, October 1985, “demonstrates that the folk- religious response to untimely (and it never really seems to be timely) death among Jews is the moral recommendation to the questioner not to question, for lack of knowledge is certain.”

49 See outline of talmudic discussion on this viewpoint in Ramban, Gate of Reward, chap. 4, in Writings and Discourses, vol. 2. p. 451. See also T. B. Berachot 7a.

50 See also T. B. Berachot 69b. “As Rav Huna says: ‘Whatever the Merciful One does, it is for good.’ ”

51 The scriptural citation “God said to Moses, ‘Thou canst not see My face. I will remove My hand and thou shalt see My back.’ ” (Exodus 33:20) is used by some to buttress the idea of explanation or demonstration of justice in the next world. See Tanhunia B, Ki Tissa 58b, as cited in Montefiore and Loewe, A Rabbinic Anthology, p. 555. See also T. B. Berachot 16.

52 Countered by Deuteronomy 24: 16. “The children shall not be put to death for the fathers. Every man shall be put to death only for his own sin.”
Supported by Exodus 34:7. “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.”
Supported by Exodus 20:5. “God visits the sins of the fathers upon the children.”
Clarified by Sanhedrin 27b. “This means that He will do so only if they hold fast to the deeds of their fathers.”
Resolved, according to Makkot 24a, by Ezekiel 18:20. “The soul that sins, that soul [alone] shall die.”

53 See T. B. Shabbat 55a end. “R. Ammi said: No death without sin; no suffering without iniquity. [But at the end of the discussion on R.Ammi’s statement it was held that, after all], There is a death without sin, and there is suffering without iniquity.”

54 See also T B. Berachot 5a. “If a man sees that he is afflicted with suffering, he should examine his deeds, as it is said, ‘Let us search and try our ways, and return unto the Lord [Lamentations I11 3:40J.’ ”

55 See T. B. Berachot 5a. “If he [an individual who suffers] searches but finds nothing (objectionable), he should attribute his affliction to neglect of the study of Torah.” See also T. B. Berachot 7a.

56 See Besdin, Reflections of the Rav, p. 35. Note also that Buber’s theme of the “eclipse of God” would fall into this category.

57 See R. Samuel b. Nahmani in the name of R. Jonathan in T. B. Baba Kama 60a.


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