SUBJECTIVE VS. OBJECTIVE KEYS TO THE BOOK OF JOB
hard cover page 172
In section 70.02 our study bifurcates man’s right to claim a rationally moral interaction between man and the Divine.607 We posit as follows: On the “objective” level-when man is not immediately and directly involved-the inherent right exists. On the “subjective” level-where the individual finds himself in misfortune-the issue is not appropriate. In that situation, imperatives of faith override imperatives of logic.608
There are two salient episodes in Tanach which seem to preclude a blanket assertion that man in all cases can demand a rationally moral interaction: (1) the Akedat Yitzchak (Binding of Isaac), and (2) the Divine response to Job in the Jobian finale.
The Akedat Yitzchak
One may cite God’s directive to Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and Abraham’s willingness to do so. But if Judaism was to signal a significant departure from the idol worshipers, where is the differentiation? Are monotheism and efficacy sufficient differentiators? Where is the rational morality of the interaction?
Rashi avoids the whole problem by explaining that God did not instruct Abraham to slaughter Isaac, but rather only to bring him up to the mountain in order to prepare him as a burnt offering (as opposed to consummating the deed). This hardly conforms to the basic thrust of the narrative, however.
The answer rests partially on the “bottom line” point that Abraham was ultimately stopped from the sacrifice by God’s angel. However, there are other factors. One might draw the lesson that this God would ultimately not demand child sacrifice, even from the progenitor of the religion, even when the child was a special gift of God.
Thus, if we focus first on the Divine, the initial directive was
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607 This assertion is important to our study because if there is no rationally moral basis to man’s interaction with the Divine, there is no point in writing studies on theodicy. At the same time, we must reconcile certain historical events, e.g., the Akedat Yitzchak, which seem to contradict the assertion of a rationally moral interaction.608 According to Soloveitchik, “B’sod Ha-yachid V’hayachad,” pp. 333-343, man is in one of two states: (1) random happening, and (2)deterministic. If man is in state (I),philosophical speculation is futile; if man is in state (Z), then the question is inappropriate; the only question is how to best deal with and practically approach the problem at hand within the context of Halachah.
A prior book encapsulating discourses of Soloveitchik, Reflections of the Rav, does provide a specific theodicy with regard to the Holocaust-Hester Panim. Thus, the dichotomy in Soloveitchik’s approach would seem resolvable by, and consistent with, our formulation.
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