Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1


|Views: 89|Likes:
Published by Baruch Pelta

More info:

Published by: Baruch Pelta on Jul 08, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOC, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Baruch Pelta5/5/09BedzowJewish PhilosophyThe Holocaust and Evil in the Theologies of Eliezer Berkovits and Rabbi JosephB. Soloveitchik Perhaps the most famous issue confronting modern religious thinkerstoday is why evil exists if God is good. The problem is magnified by theHolocaust, when God allowed millions of Jews to be tortured in the worst of conditions and six million of their number to perish in the camps. Since theHolocaust happened so recently the problem is especially poignant in the Jewishconsciousness. Modern Jewish philosophers and theologians have therefore felt itnecessary to examine the Holocaust. Eliezer Berkovits (1908 ± 1992) and RabbiJoseph B. Soloveitchik (1903 ± 1993) are two figures who affiliated with ModernOrthodoxy who attempted this search. I will examine both their examinations.In an essay entitled ³Faith After the Holocaust,´
Berkovits explores thetheological implications of the Holocaust. He begins by dismissing those who ask why ithappened with the presumption that there is no God. Still, the question of how theHolocaust could take place under a caring God is still a powerful question. Berkovits presents the possibility that God has abandoned man and does not care about him. This isa troubling view, for it would mean that there is no universal ethical imperative and each
 person has his own views which are the truth for him. ³People«with differenttemperaments, varied desires, and manifold self-created goals´
would each have their own way of looking at the world and nobody could be said to be more right than anybodyelse, Nazi and pious Jew not excluded. This would render man to have no meaning andthe universe to be absurd. But for man to judge the world around him as meaningless andabsurd means he himself has enough meaningfulness and reason to judge the worldaround him, paradoxically rendering the world into a place which has meaning and is notabsurd. So too during the Holocaust, when existence seemed most absurd and evilreached its pinnacle, man¶s capacity also reached its highest potential. Under threat of death, when man greets ³a tyrant or a persecuting church or oppressive falsehood´
witha negative response, he sanctifies God¶s name. However:«with this act alone, the highest form of 
kidush hashem
is not yetreached. There is still a great deal in it for man. At this stage, man is stillacting within the frame of reference of this world. He preserves his dignityin the face of a this-worldly challenge. The ultimate phase of 
begins after the choice has been made, when the martyr approaches the stake at which he is to be burned. The world has died tohim, he is no longer of it. He no longer confronts man and his works. He isalone ± with his God. And God is silent, and God is hiding his face. Godhas abandoned him. Now man is truly alone. If at this moment he is ableto accept his radical abandonment by God as a gift from God that enableshim to love God with all his soul, ³even when he takes your soul,´ he has
achieved the highest form of 
kidush Hashem
«no one can so completelysurrender to [God] as the one who is completely forsaken by him.
 This lengthy quote from the essay heartrendingly describes the emotional situation of theJews who suffered in the German camps and decided to put all of their trust in God. Thisis the ultimate act of faith. This great act can only be done in the darkest of times andBerkovits has thus apparently shown a positive reaction that may be taken in response tosuffering, albeit that he admits the problem of theodicy is not completely solved.Soloveitchik examines evil in his
Kol Dodi Dofek: Listen -- My Beloved Knocks
He begins this volume with the assumption that humanity can exist in an ³Existence of Fate´or ³Existence of Destiny.´What is an Existence of Fate? It is an existence of duress«a factualexistence, simply one line in a [long] chain of mechanical causality,devoid of significance, direction, and purpose, and subordinate to theforces of the environment into whose midst the individual is pushed,unconsulted by Providence«As an object, man appears as acted upon andnot as actor. Man¶s existence is hollow, lacking inner content, substance,and independence.
 The man whose Existence is only Fate essentially attempts to look at his environmentfrom a detached perspective. In doing so, he becomes somewhat paranoid. He seeshimself as worthless and he feels surrounded by his troubles, which seem to lack meaningin God¶s otherwise beautiful universe. He then uses his powers of reason to rationalizeaway the evil around him: essentially he believes that
 since God is good, there istherefore no evil in the universe.

Activity (3)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 hundred reads
EAbramzon liked this
itick liked this

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->