30.02 Elaboration (pps.20-31)
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and insensitive.”96 He notes that whoever advocates this theodicy “risks violating a most heinous sin of his own â€”that of tsidduk ha-din” â€”attempting to justify Israel’s travail as particular punishment.97
Fackenheim articulates the fatal flaw in simplistic “suffering is punishment” theodicies:
[Fundamentalist] Biblical faith originates as a myth which takes good fortune to be sufficient proof of righteousness, and ill fortune to be sufficient proof of sin. Good fortune is proof of God’s mercy and love; ill fortune merely proves that His ways are not our ways. For [fundamentalist] Biblical faith, in short, it is “heads-I-win-and-tails-you-lose”: its God has acquired the logical peculiarity that empirical evidence may confirm Him but that it is systematically unable to falsify Him.98
It is, of course, not biblical faith per se which leads us into this logical conundrum; It is, rather, a misformulation of Jewish theology.
Group III. Hester Panim: EXPLICATION AND CHALLENGE
The third group of theodicies is also that of Job in his complaint and protest. It is the view of a God who contracts His providence by a Hester Panim (Hiding of the Face).
In subsequent chapters, starting in Section 900 of our Unified Formulation, we devote considerable attention to this line of approach. The subject will be covered in depth in that section and subsequently.
As indicated, Hester Panim is not employed as a response to the general theodicy dilemma. Rather, it is generally applied by its protagonists to specific historical periods, e.g., the Holocaust. At the same time, while some respected thinkers believe that the Divine has been in a state of Hiding since the destruction of the Temple, this concept has not been fully developed into a theodicy.
â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”- NOTES â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”-
96 Lamm, The Face of God, sec. 2.
97 Cf. Borowitz, Choices in modern Jewish Thought, p. 194. “That the Nazis’ bestiality was just compensation for Jewish sins; that God must allow such evils so as to preserve human freedom; that it taught a valuable lesson to the world; that God tests our faith; that God has compensated the Jews for their suffering by giving them the State of Israel; or that the Holocaust brutality can be expunged by the bliss of the world-to-come, are all morally unbearable notions. No God who did such things would be worth worshipping. Further, to take refuge in traditional humility and say that God’s ways are infinitely beyond us, is an utter abdication of our human judgment and of the victims’ human dignity.”
98 Fackenheim, God’s Presence in History, p. 39.
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