30.02 Elaboration (pps.20-31)
hard cover page 23
One may legitimately take the position that finite man cannot comprehend all the ways of infinite God. However, it is difficult for man to enter into a lifetime commitment to a religious system in which the incomprehensibility factor is paramount. The system adopted by one who is committed to uuahem nehege yomum ualaylu (“and thou shalt study them day and night”) must have a fairly solid theological underpinning. Religious man had best, to the absolute limits of human possibility, try to discern the comprehensible aspects in man’s relation to his deity.One is advised to accept the existence of evil in God’s universe on the basis of a leap of faith, if the existing theodicies are found wanting. Yet leaps of faith are not easily introduced by Judaism. And leaps of faith, by definition, require faith in the leap. Judaism requires leaps of faith when not emotionally or intellectually infeasible. (see discussion below)
Halakhic man the Jew committed to God’s law in this world is not an emotional acrobat. He is averse to emotional acrobatics. And in a leap of faith emotion is crucial. Thus a leap of faith regarding the seemingly intractable dilemma of God and evil may be appropriate for some religions, but is quite inappropriate for Halakhic man.
Jewish doctrine is more prudent than most in its approach to leaps of faith, miracles, and prophets. It manifests a general wariness towards extending the supernatural into the mundane. The God of Israel is not seeking the fealty of the starryeyed who are prepared to charge up the hill on a nod from the local guru. While Judaism is permeated by the transcendent, it is still a religion of carefully delineated law. carefully grounded in Divine texts.
It is a theology which seeks system and order wherever appropriate. It is averse to loose ends. Judaism has confidence that all doctrine is ultimately reconcilable; that all doctrine must be reconciled. And, notwithstanding the fact that all challenges are vigorously and meticulously parried, it is tacitly understood that the weak spots in its articulated philosophical structure must ultimately be resolved. If one cannot give an emotionally or intellectually coherent, satisfying answer to an eighteen-year-old, one has either failed somewhere or is erring somewhere.
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