30.02 Elaboration (pps.20-31)
hard cover page 30
Group V. Freedom: EXPLICATION AND CHALLENGE
Man’s freedom, in and of itself, is deemed of surpassing importance. The God of Mercy is limited by the God of Freedom.
Questions this approach raise are as follows: Why did God clearly intervene in Biblical times but no longer? How, indeed, can the rahamim (mercy) face of God be so totally eclipsed by the freedom face? What is so absolutely crucial about freedom from even Divine deliverance from harm? Of what value is the Covenant if God withholds His saving hand? Of what value is freedom if the price is a Holocaust? Granted that man must be free (to commit “moral evil,” among other things), why could “natural evil” not have been eliminated? Why can’t man’s freedom assert itself within bounds of lesser evil? Of what worth is freedom if so much evil befalls innocent bystanders who become hostages to the moral choices of others?
Group VI. Kabbalistic responses
This group employs the motifs of “dualities,” tsimtsum, and “breaking of the vessels”110 as major elements in creation, imperfection, and evil. These extremely complex, image-laden, and elusive concepts fall beyond the bounds of this study, as they do not lend themselves to brief encapsulization. Nevertheless, a few kabbalistic concepts will be employed in our eventual formulation along with elements of Hester Panim and the Freedom arguments.
Group VII. There currently is no answer.
The group of responses which posits that we currently have no answer to the problem has been one of the most popular responses, albeit not solutions, to date. By its nature it does not exactly lend itself to extensive analysis.
Naturally, we pay a price for this response. Can one adhere to a theology which does not provide a solution to a fundamental problem?
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110 The motif of the “breaking of the vessels” is more specifically associ- ated with Lurianic Kabbalah. There is considerable divergence among the elucidators of Isaac Luria’s teachings as to his precise intent in many crucial matters, including this one. Luria’s noted explicators Vital and Tishby provide various insights into the theme of the “breaking of the vessels.” These explanations include the philosophically daring one that this “breaking,” which is positioned as the direct source of evil on earth, was due to a Divine miscalculation. See articles in Encyclopaedia Judaica on Kabbalah and on Luria, as well as Scholem’s chapter (7) on Lurianic Kabbalah in Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. [Vital was Luria’s foremost disciple, while Tishby is a contemporary scholar, who uses the methodology of critical scholarship.]
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