Shabbat 33 – Understanding suffering in the world

Today’s daf is a challenging theological one in my opinion.

Clearly the Rabbis were grappling with why certain events in history, or simply in our world take place. Why was the temple destroyed? Why do the Jewish people deserve to be in exile? How can our enemies win over us? Why are crops unsuccessful?

My gut reaction is to simply say “we do not know”. Here I find myself in a Maimonidean frame of mind. How can Lashon Bnei Adam (the language of men) encompass the checks and balances which God is calculating in relation to the world. This gives me more comfort than to assume that I (or even great Rabbis for that matter) can possibly understand why certain things happen.

I was aghast to read on one blog, (attributed to an unnamed Rabbi) that the recent storms in the USA were aimed at Atlantic City due to the excess gambling that happens there. How can anyone be so presumptuous as to claim an understanding of God’s behaviour?

To take it a bit further, and to present my own understanding of this complex area I again follow Maimonides. This time I take his view as expressed in the Guide to the Perplexed. Perhaps God does not involve himself in the day to day affairs of all men. This is a tricky area when in the morning prayers we say each day we claim God “renews the world afresh every day for ever”. However Maimonides seems to suggest that God only cares about those individuals who have, in some sense, achieved an understanding of God, in a Philosophical and Metaphysical sense.

Perhaps 1500 years ago in Babylonia people looked back on events and saw clear patterns between the effect and what may have caused it. Hindsight is a marvellous thing but may not necessarily tell us actually why something happened in the first place?!?

 

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About bookabazza

I am an Osteopath and University Lecturer who is trying to keep up with the 7 year daf yomi cycle. I thought I would try and share a few small thought on the daf each week.
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