30.02 Elaboration (pps.20-31)
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Hayim Greenberg, in his article “In Dust and Ashes” (1940), stirringly presents the “finitehnfinite defense.” He asserts that if a “man of faith” cannot accept injustice and suffering, then he simply does not believe. He concludes: “. . . one who cannot praise God even as he sits in dust and ashes and has no explanation for his suffering, nor any sign from above such a person is in the final analysis, not a believer.”We differ from Greenberg’s line of reasoning. The witnessing of tragedy may lead to a questioning of one’s commitment. The issue is not necessarily a lack of sincerity, however, but the failure on the part of the religious establishment to reconcile man’s suffering with his inner yearning for genuine faith.
Greenberg maintains: “Religious thought must once and for all renounce rationalist interpretation and justification of the ways of God. There exists no science of God and no way of studying His ways. Religious man . . . must learn from Job to believe without understanding, to trust without explanation.”87 Greenberg posits two types of man: (1) rationalist man, and (2) religious man.
Greenberg, however, seems not to differentiate between religious man and fanatic man. He seems to disregard halachic man, whose religious expression and philosophy is couched in the language of reason. Judaism treads very cautiously before demanding blind faith in any area.
Finite man may not be able to comprehend the infinite, but finite man can discern a logical assault on his senses. An internal logical dilemma is constructed by those positing a neo-Stoic Divine presiding over a world plagued by evil. Jewish law sanctifies life and is averse to the termination of the life of the suffering. Yet simultaneously, some mainstream elements in Orthodox theology postulate an omnipotent, all-benevolent God watching a million Jewish infants and five million adults being shot, starved, gassed, or burnt to death.88
Nachmanides (Ramban) addresses the adequacy of Group I (“finite/infinite defense”) theodicies in his The Gate of Reward:
â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”- NOTES â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”-
87 See Greenberg, “In Dust and Ashes,” in Glatzer, The Dimensions of Job, pp. 222-224.
88 Ani Ma’amin (Jerusalem: Mosad Ha-Rav Kook, 1965), p. 206, as cited by Fackenheim, The Jewish Return into History, p. 28 1. Judaism does not easily acquiesce to a seemingly immoral interaction between the Divine and man.
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