Between Man and God: Issues in Judaic Thought

By Martin Sicker | Go to book overview
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Introduction

More than a half-century after the Holocaust, the theological reverberations of that horrendous intrusion of evil into the course of human history remain with us unabated. “Where was God at Auschwitz?” is a cry that continues to be heard. Satisfactory answers to this heartrending question seem to elude us, as we continue to witness the horrors that men are capable of inflicting on one another. This work was written in part as a personal attempt to come to grips with that awesome question and with it some of the related central issues of Jewish thought and belief.

In recent years a number of disturbing books and articles by Jewish authors on the subject of theodicy, the justification of divine acts, most of them written with the Holocaust as their point of reference, have appeared. These works attempt to deal with the philosophical and theological implications of the Holocaust and therefore necessarily touch upon some of the crucial issues that have troubled Jewish thinkers for millennia. I have found some of these works to be particularly disconcerting primarily because I believe them to be fundamentally ill conceived as well as socially and psychologically counterproductive. In a sense, this book is my response to those authors.

There seems to be a tendency among many writers of such contemporary works to argue that the very fact of the Holocaust invalidates traditional Jewish theology, and that its long-held ideas about God must therefore be revised radically. An example of this approach is the position taken by one such writer, Steven Jacobs, who rejects traditional conceptions of God as being out of touch with the real world. “What is demanded in the realm of theological integrity is a notion of God compatible with the reality of radical evil at work and

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