Rethinking Jewish Faith: The Child of a Survivor Responds

By Steven L. Jacobs | Go to book overview

1
The Problem with God

Both the Torah and postbiblical or Pharisaic-Rabbinic Judaism (not to mention Christianity) present their own understandings of God as the "God who acts in history," whose caring concern for Jews (and Christians) was ultimately expressed at Sinai (and Calvary), for reasons largely unknown to His human children. No longer acceptable or comforting to this Jew, however, when juxtaposed to the Shoah is the niidrashic, that is interpretive, understanding of a God who, sadly, went with His children into exile and slavery in Egypt and rejoiced, gladly, with them when they celebrated their liberation from that slavery and bondage, but was seemingly absent between the years 1933 and 1945, or more specifically, between 1939 and 1945. No amount of contemporary religious rationalization can overcome the enormity of the loss of Six Million Jews-more than 150 members of my own family. Little, if any, comfort, it seems to me, can be derived from the idea that Providence prevented that number from escalating higher. If truth now be told, for some among us today, not only were Six Million of our Jewish brothers and sisters murdered in the Shoah, as well as Five Million non-Jews, but the historically traditional notion of God also died in the concentration and death camps that now puncture the landscape of Europe. What is now demanded in the realm of theological integrity is a notion of God compatible with the reality of radical evil at work and at play in our world, a notion that, also, admits of human fireedom for good or evil -- without the fruitless appeals to a God who '"chose" (?) not to act because He could not act. To continue to affirm the historically traditional notion of faith in God as presented by both Torahitic and Pharisaic-Rabbinic traditions (as well as Christianity) is to ignore the Shoah with an of its uniqueness and to ignore those who, like myself, continue to feel the pain of family loss, yet want to remain committed to Jewish survival-not because God wills it, but because without even this most fragile of moorings, we are cut off from our battered community.

-13-

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