30.02 Elaboration (pps.20-31)
hard cover page 25
You may ask us the following question: Since there is a hidden element in [Divine] judgment . . . why then do you trouble us to learn the previously explained arguments [theodicies] . . . ? Why can we not thrust everything upon the belief [in the unfathomable], which we must ultimately rely on . . . ? This [answer of using the “unfathornability defense” alone and stopping there] is an argument of fools who despise wisdom.89
While Nachmanides does not reject the broader concept of the unfathomability of the Divine, he argues that chiyuv talmud Torah (“the obligation to study Torah”) requires us to seek to fathom those aspects of God’s governance of the world which are attainable to the intellect.90
A theology should be clear as to (1) which of its components require leaps of faith, (2) which of its components flow from reason, and (3) which of its components flow from generally accepted fact.
Regarding those components which require leaps of faith, theologians must be cautious. For whereas these can be stacked ever higher and higher, and “true believers” may be asked to take yet another leap, the theological balancing act appears increasingly more and more tenuous to the disinterested observer. The more tenuous a theological structure, the greater reliance a theological system will have to place on an emotional constituency, and the more likely it is to lose layer after layer of its more intellectual wing. In extreme cases a theological system can find itself bereft of “men of reason.”
Just as there are thresholds of pain, there are “leap of faith” thresholds. These are highly personal and individual. Judaism, in particular, has always been hard on theological systems requiring great numbers of presuppositions.
Group II. Man is punished for his sins, failings: EXPLICATION AND CHALLENGE
Theodicy Group II receives more emphasis in historical responses. It is the theodicy espoused by the “friends of Job.” This is the “fundamentalist view” that man’s suffering
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89 Ramban, Gate of Reward, chap. 6, Writings and Discourses, vol. 2, p. 468.
90 Ibid. “With the enlightenment we have attained we can benefit ourselves by becoming wise and knowing God, blessed be He, through His manner and deeds. Moreover, we will believe and trust in his faith-in both the hidden and known matters. . . .We will recognize the fairness of the [Divine] judgment and the fairness of the [Divine] decision. Thus it is the duty of every person who worships God out of love and fear to search his mind in order to justify the Divine decision and to substantiate the judgment as far as his ability allows.”
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