Holocaust – Good For the Jews?!

Back in the day I went to a kippa-sruga school in Israel. On one of the school trips we got to spend a weekend with ultra-orthodox hippies (sorry, I’m no expert in the various orthodox religious trends), which was an enlightening experience indeed. We were discussing politics and religion into the night when the issue of the Holocaust came up. At this point one of our hosts told us that the the genocide of the Jews was like cutting of a diseased part off the body in order to save it as a whole. The creation of the State of Israel would therefore be the divine explaination to why the Holocaust took place. How sick is that…
I was wondering if anyone can provide me with a more concrete Jewish theological discourse of the Holocaust as presented above.

38 thoughts on “Holocaust – Good For the Jews?!

  1. one of the least sinister torahs i’ve heard is the Pieztner Rebbe’s thing, he died in the warsaw ghetto, and his theology evolve alot while he was there. He started with the traditional reproach “repent from your sins and things will get better, blah blah blah” and then moved into this much deeper theology about the nature of G-d, and his relationship to the world.
    That hostility towards the weak and the “righteous,” it’s a symptom, ultimately, of contempt for G-d, anger at his creation. This anger results in the oppresion of those closest to him, through no fault nessesarily of their own. Like little kids in school, making fun of the “good” kids, that those who are closest to G-d insist on being near him when he’s hurting too. And that somehow, by being with G-d in horrible torture, something is evened out in the universe, some grace is purchased for an otherwise merit-broke community. or something. I’m buchering the thought a little, it’s described better in Nechemia Polen’s The Holy Fire, about R’ Kalman Klonimus of pietzna

  2. The holocaust is definitely divine work. (I absolutely do not absolve the Germans and the rest of the world for silent cooperation).
    But in the spirit of ‘why bad things happen to you’, just some thoughts of mine:
    – Euro Jew secularists guilty of being secular,
    – religious guilty for not really being religious or living up to the expected potential,
    – it’s time for am yisrael to be redeemed. Herzl started something, but it was not happening fast enough, so God provided the reason to create the modern ‘state’ (with all it’s misgivings) to speed up ingathering of exiles,
    – the time came for God to make a paradigm shift the same way 4/5 of the Israelites died before leaving Egypt AND subsequently, that whole generation died in the desert too,
    – ‘midat hadin’ = hashem hides his face while the angel of death carries out his work,
    – conspiracy of the CFR, freemasons, shabbateans, whatever.
    Shavuah tov.

  3. holocaust equals purim, round 2?
    the theology makes me very uncomfortable. as so much so as when ovadia yosef says the people clubbing in tel aviv have it coming to them when they’re killed in a piguah because they were breaking shabbos.
    did god send the holocaust? everything comes from god. everything is god. so the answer can only be yes.
    however, did the jews bring the holocaust on themselves? that’s harder to argue. so many pious people who were truly tzaddikim in their age perished in the shoah. did they deserve to die? or children — countless children who knew no better whether or not they lived lives of sin according to our rabbanim — they perished as well.
    let’s look at it from a truly ‘frum’ angle, shall we?
    that a human being can presume to have even an inkling of a notion of what god’s intentions are is a sign of that individual’s utter arrogance and foolishness. god sent the shoah. no one knows why. period.
    we do know this: the shoah radically changed the secular and jewish worlds forever. it provided the justification for the resettlement of israel, and the grounds for countless legal battles still entangling the world today. it made antisemitism definitively wrong in the eyes of the status quo, and clandestine and ‘cool’ in the eyes of the deranged and depraved.
    in otherwords, it gave rise to 60 years of war, and nazi bondage fetish porn. a good thing? meh. just another part of the plan i won’t even attempt to understand.

  4. i don’t believe in god, but i can atleast grasp the idea that (mobius:) “everything comes from god” or (josh:) “the holocaust is definitely divine work.” but next part, “i absolutely do not absolve the germans and the rest of the world for silent cooperation”, how does that work? do you feel the same way, mobius?
    please enlighten this run-of-the-mill agnostic; how someone can be guilty if their actions were part of a divine plan?

  5. because man has free will. god created man and man acts in accord with god’s ultimate plan, but we are each given free choice as to how we act in the world. it’s all predetermined in a sense, as in, everything works out as it was supposed to, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened the way it did. at the same time, we are each given choices to make in life which determine how those things work out. some people spend their entire lives regretting one poor decision. in this case, that would be (or ought to be) the germans.

  6. What it really goes back to is the disgusting “re-connection” idea (to be a true Germany you ought to live in Germany, at least make a pilgrimage, etc), part of a modified purification meme characterizing the Diaspora (and its Jews) as weak, inferior, miscegenated, obsequious, etc. A Jew in Poland descended from the Baal Shem Tov is toadying scum whereas some blonde Russian immigrant calling himself “Sabra” is some kind of great person? This is chauvenism connected to geography.
    (Perhaps this is irrational, but we cannot accept anything as justifying the Hoolocaust–it has no silver lining. It is this black wound in history where no sunlight reaches. There is not goping to be an explanation we accept regardless of its logic.)
    To fully understand this particular idea (already certain parallels to Vanguard Socialism, ie Lenin and making things worse so they can get better, should be apparent), you have to go back to the positively giddy words of the Zionists upon Hitler’s election, who were so happy because they saw this (not the Holocaust specifically but a militant racist was coming into power) as sealing the assimilationists into a argumentative coffin. Now those confused idots’ll have to move to Israel, there’ll be no excuse as there was under the progressive Austrian emporer!

  7. ok, so all choices lead to the same outcome? like an adventure game, but with no alternate endings?
    josh said that the holocaust itself was a divine work. so the holocaust was one of these necessary outcomes? everyone had freewill, but only to choose between options that would lead to the holocaust anyway? would the holocaust have happened if everyone made “the right” choices?

  8. “What it really goes back to is the disgusting “re-connection” idea (to be a true [sic.] Germany you ought to live in Germany, at least make a pilgrimage, etc)”
    what do we call this “re-connection” idea if we swap out German for Jew and Germany for Israel?
    Is the disgusting part it’s characterization of the Diaspora? would “re-connection” be okay if it said that germans should live in germany, as long as it didn’t have a problem with other people living there?

  9. Arbitrary, the holocaust would not have happened had everyone made the “right” choices. It’s not a matter of God deciding what will happen and then giving us meaningless choices that will still lead to the same outcome. God gives us free will, he just knows what we’ll choose.

  10. I think that the difficulty you may have is with the emphasis of the argument, rather than the details. At least, that’s the problem I have.
    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Holocaust was “good for the Jews” or that it was “cutting off a diseased part to save the whole body.” At the same time, however, I think it is almost impossible, from an open-minded and -eyed look at the facts of history, to deny that the birth of the State of Israel was an almost direct result of the Holocaust. In essence, the State of Israel was first brought about through the assistance/mandate of the UN (arguably the last good thing they did for us), and this almost definitely would not have happened had they not seen the massacre of 6 million Jews in Europe.
    Thus, I think the better angle to take might be seeing the birth of Israel asa positive outcome to a horrific event, rather than the Holocaust was a good thing because of what it led to.
    Make sense?

  11. It was asked above how can we say that G-d caused it to happen and at the same time we blame the wicked -ie the germans and others.
    Its like this- There always exist terrible wicked people out there – even today all over. But they are kept in check and against their will are unable to do what they want.
    Imagine a child walking through a dangerous neighborhood with the father their to protect.
    All G-d needs to do is to close his eyes for a moment and allow the wicked to do what they are always trying to do and you see what happens…
    That is what we say in the Hagaddah: In every generation they rise up against us to destroy but the Holy One Blessed be He saves us from their hands.
    Take a look at the story of Purim and the countless times pogroms were averted.
    Its like it says in Pirkei Avoth- Without a government man would swallow his fellow man alive.
    Don’t be naive-You can hear it on the radio sometimes or if you go into bars if they don’t know you are Jewish…listen to what a lot of people would like to do…
    G-d doesn’t make the germans hate he just doesn’t stop them from moving ahead.

  12. ah… other facinating mystical atrocity principle, talmudic in origin…
    In times of judgement of places, even the righteous are not left out. There is a Karma attached to living somewhere, and even those who do it righteously are prone to it.

  13. Y crack,
    I’m not sure if you were refering to me becasue I dodn’t address that. But you are paritally right. It is the ‘quiet” righteous that are not left out. Those that see what is happening but don’t speak out and fight against it – who just ignore and say “its not my problem” – those unfortunately are alot of them and they might not be left out.
    They are like those seeing someone drowning and say “I didn’t push anyone in – and I will just ignore it.”
    It is actually wasy before talmudic in origin.
    In Ezekiel [3:17-21] it is stated very eloquently (and Im sure other places).

  14. “ha kol letova”
    All the bad things (and good things too of course) that have happened to us as a people are part of our learning experience of the past 3000+ years. We missed our chance to waltz into Israel right after the Reed Sea was split and the Golden Calf too, but we blew it by accepting the spies reports (I believe many are still replicating this event every day). Apparently, we were not ready. Come tisha b’av time, we all blindly spell out why each temple was torn down, but later things in life are still unaccountable for like the inquisition, the holocaust, and all these wars too. We know that when the temples were torn down, it was definitely for the better since am yisrael was definitely not worthy of them. Maybe we will learn that in the early 20th century, we showed that we were unworthy of living in the galut since we were not ‘the light unto nations’ that we were commanded to be.
    I want to thank Mob and Dan for bringing this up, most other people just look at it so superficially. I myself don’t have the answers, it seems neither do too many others.

  15. Muffti has never really understood the problem of responsibility w/r/t what God causes. There is a clear biblical antecedent in the story of Pharaoh: God hardens Pharoah’s heart repeatedly and then takes out his wrath on the entire people of Egypt for Pharoah’s refusal to let the Jews go. If you can swallow that as a fair deal, Muffti doesn’t really see why the Holocaust presents any special theological challenges. Once you can accept that God does apparently horrible things and doesn’t owe you shit by way of explanation, the holocaust presents no new challenge to the moral sphere of responsibility of causation.
    Another, more reasonable view may be to just add the holocaust in a long list of evidence against God’s existence (at least if thought of as a benificent God) known traditionally as the power of evil.
    Oh, and by the way,Joe Shmo, Muffti doesn’t see why on your view the whole question just gets transformed into why God chose to ‘close his eyes’ between 1933-1945. Why does God arbitrarily hold some people’s will ‘in check’ and then every once in a while let them run rampages? And for all the averted pogroms, what about the numerous successful one.

  16. Another perspective suggests that just as we influence each other, we influence God – not the part of God that is distant and absolute, but the part of God that is close to us, perceptible, and relative. This part of God is not absolutely knowing, not absolutely powerful, not absolutely beneficent (as grandmuffti points out). It is relative, shaped by Its relationship with us as individuals, as a community and as humanity. This is the part of God that is not absolutely consistent – that sometimes hardens hearts and looks away while at other times protects us and leads us out of exile. This is the part of God sometimes portrayed as the vindictive father of the Exodus while at other times as the loving bride of Shabbat.
    We must hold Europe responsible for perpetrating the shoah. We must hold humanity responsible for allowing it. We must as a community take responsibility that, as josh points out, we were not a “light unto nations”, that we didn’t do enough to promote peace and justice and goodness. That was, as yoseph crack suggests, bad karma. At the same time we must hold God responsible for not merely looking away, nor for removing a diseased part of the body, but for slicing us in half, shoulder to crotch and leaving us hemorrhaging blood. That was not good for the Jews; that is not a learning experience; that is abuse. That mercy and goodness failed in both heaven and earth are two sides of the same page; in other words a vicious cycle; in other words there is no significant, meaningful distinction between free will and divine work. It doesn’t help to point blame, but we must all take responsibility, as individuals, as a community, as humanity and as God, to do whatever we can to prevent this kind of evil from cycling through us again. If God is so great, God should be magnanimous and take on more responsibility for the whole mess. We as people, also know what we need to do.
    Incidentally, while the shoah may have hastened the establishment of the State of Israel, it should not be seen as having led to the establishment of Israel. Israel would probably have come to being with or without the shoah and should not be seen as a justification for the shoah.

  17. anyblock,
    I accept your opinion but disagree with the last paragraph.
    We know that the goyim regret giving us a state and they are trying somewhat to get that decision reversed.

  18. if you really think that everything that happened — every individual event, including all the instances of violence and whatnot — were part of an ultimate plan that proceeds in a non-contingent way, you have to intellectually and ethically acquiesce to every historical reality. it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, just or unjust. you have to submit and you have no grounds for moral criticism of any kind. it doesn’t matter whether your view comes from an idea of God engineering history or because you’re a communist who believes in historical reason and materialism.
    so, think about that.
    my own view is that people are responsible for their own actions and that God will let us destroy or redeem the world to a great extent without interfering. i don’t think there is a “plan” except insofar as ani ma’amin b’emunah sh’leimah b’viat hamoshiach. there’s no reason that can’t happen right now, and so there’s no reason certain historical events need to happen to “prepare” the coming.

  19. There is one mistake that has been mentioned a few times. The most recent time by Mufti and that is that Pharoah’s heart was hardened and then the guiltless masses were punished for what Pharoah did against his will. So that in this mistaken view G-d did two wrong things: a. he forced someone to act evil and b. he punished innocent bystanders based on what the king didn’t even do of his own volition.
    This is the real story:
    For hundreds of years the Kings of Egypt, the Pharoahs, on their own volition enslaved and and beat the Jewish people. The Pharoah who ruled when G-d took us out was no different. Aside for enslaving us he took counsel with his elders and they decided to minimize our procreation by killing the males for a time and by overworking us to exhaustion.
    When G-d sent Moses with the plagues and the warnings to Egypt, at that point he could have and should have wiped them out – thats how evil they were. But together with taking us out we were going to be shown G-d’s glory and we were to be taught that He DOES intervene in this world and He DOES take revenge against the wicked eventually-even though its not always immediate and therefore not always obvious.
    This was to be a lesson for us to teach our children for generations to come.
    Instead of just wiping Egypt out He brought terrible plagues with warnings and announcements by Moses that Pharoah let us go or else there would be more to come. Even though there were times during those plagues that Pharoah would have relented out of fear G-d on purpose gave time in between the plagues for a rest and helped Pharoah to regain his composure and He helped to harden his heart. All this for the goal of showing in magnificent manner that G-d punishes the wicked.
    Don’t think that I make up answers on the fly just to answer these “questions” – not at all everything said by me is solid and can be backed up:
    [Exodus 9:14-16]”9,14 For I will this time send all My plagues upon thy person, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like Me in all the earth. 9,15 Surely now I had put forth My hand, and smitten thee and thy people with pestilence, and thou hadst been cut off from the earth. 9,16 But in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee My power, and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth. ”
    Understand that the heart hardening was after all those years of wickedness and after he was already deserving of his fate.
    Furthermore don’t think that the Egyptians themselves were not wicked. They were. You don’t have a king ruling a country against the will of the people for any length of time. Eventually they would be overthrown.
    The fact is that the Egyptians were right behind Pharoah- they were the ones who happily carried out throwing babies into the nile-they whipped the people who didn’t fill their quota and they supplied the army and provisions to chase Israel to the Sea.
    I have to admit getting really upset when seeing the posts of some people especially “the mufti.”
    What I explained here is very clear to those who have studied the text. Why is it that some people speak as if they know when they so completely misunderstand. The ignorant arrogance of “God hardens Pharoah’s heart repeatedly … Why does God arbitrarily hold some people’s will ‘in check’ …” is mind boggling.
    Either learn it yourself or ask. Don’t be ignorant and talk as if you’re a scholar!

  20. Mufti,
    I know that I sound upset and I am. There is nothing wrong with solid questions or even demands for proof. This is not Christianity where they demand “belief” even if it makes no sense.
    On the other hand it seems to me that a lot of people do not understand the basics of what they are asking questions about.
    Their knowledge only comes from other people who ostensibly are defending their own beliefs against questions – but they themselves don’t have their own beliefs clear.
    What tends to happen is that there are many people who themslves haven’t studied and have a skewed understanding of what really happened -this developed over many discussions and debates with those who are not so learned.
    It is this that I am annoyed about – when arguments are made based on faulty understandings of what Judaism is really saying.

  21. That’s an eloquent interpretation of the text, JS, though Muffti sees no reason to call it definitive. You’ll kindly notice that on the whole its completely ad hoc. For example:
    “Furthermore don’t think that the Egyptians themselves were not wicked. They were. You don’t have a king ruling a country against the will of the people for any length of time. Eventually they would be overthrown.
    The fact is that the Egyptians were right behind Pharoah- they were the ones who happily carried out throwing babies into the nile-they whipped the people who didn’t fill their quota and they supplied the army and provisions to chase Israel to the Sea.”
    One might call this a radical interpetation of both history and the text. (This isn’t suprising, mind you, from a guy that takes as an axiom that events many allegedly independant sources claim to have happened must be true!) You are, in technical terms, making shit up. That’s fine; but there is also a literal reading of the text that you are trying to gerrymander. If there wasn’t that literal meaning, commentators wouldn’t spend so much time trying to iron it out.
    The quotes from Exodus hardly give a clear justification for ‘everything you say’. All it justifies is thinking that the plauges were a foregone conclusion no matter what Pharoah did, which hardening the heart seems to be an indication of. And, by the way, Muffti didn’t say that God did two wrong things: in fact, you compeletly misunderstood the Muffti (as usual. You were probably too upset…) But whatever…
    Anyhow, Muffti’s question about why God arbitrarily holds some people’s will in check and not others was a question, not an assertion, to you. You said that People are basically wantonly wicked and God holds there will in check. Muffti’s question was why that isn’t just a restatement of the problem: sometimes God clearly DOESN’T hold their will in check. That is just the problem of evil. All you did was give a confusing way of framing it with a slightly different metaphysic. Very impressive. Mind boggling, to use your phrase.

  22. I didn’t mean that in general G-d holds the wicked’s “will” in check. Rather, He frusterates their plans and doesn’t let them be successful. For example nothing changed about Haman’s will -but his plans were frusterated. There are a significant number of neo-nazis now in Germany and other European countries – but they are being held in check. Their will is there but their actions are forcefully being limited. Who knows if tomorro they will be successful? That’s what I mean.
    -The reason I said that was to answer the question of “why are the wicked responsible- if G-d did it and the wicked were like puppets?” So I’m explaining that they are not at all puppets.
    As far as my being as hoc you should note that there were two separate things I was addressing.
    1. What is the meaning of G-ds hardening Pharoahs heart and when and why is that done? (BTW Haman and the usual wicked’s hearts are not hardened.)
    -To answer that I explained that it was for a complete side reason. It was to keep Pharoah alive longer specifically to make an example of them.
    2. (The ad hoc part) Weren’t the Egyptians innocent bystanders punished when at most only Pharoah should be punished.
    — I didn’t back it up then because I also get tired and am so busy but I will try to solidify it now.
    I gave a logic 2 or 3 comments ago as to why you can’t think that when a nation acts bad for a long period and publicly- that it is “only” the leader. Thats plain silly.
    But even from the text you can see it:
    a. [Exodus 9,27] “And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them: ‘I have sinned this time; the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.”
    –Pharoah says that he AND HIS PEOPLE are wicked.
    b. [Exodus 14,5] “And it was told the king of Egypt that the people were fled; and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned towards the people, and they said: ‘What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?”
    –here Pharoah and his servants were in unison.
    (To save some typing I copied, pasted and touched up c. from somewhere on the web.)
    c. In the fifth plague of pestilence every every horse, donkey, camel, cow and chicken that was in the field and belonged to an Egyptian was killed [Exodus 9:1-7]. Only those that were not brought indoors. Some Egyptians at this point were fearful of the warnings that all cattle outdoors would be killed.
    Later we find out that Pharoah harnessed his chariot and six hundred others to pursue the Israelites [Exodus 14:5-7].
    -The midrash asks a solid question: Where did the horses which pulled the chariots come from? The horses of the Egyptians were killed by the pestilence; those of the Jews were no longer in Egypt [Exodus 10:26].
    The midrash points to the Torah’s own mention of “Hayarei Et Devar Hashem – a group of Egyptians who feared the word of Hashem. These individuals listened to Moshe’s threat of pestilence and moved their animals inside to avoid the plague which was to strike only those animals left in the field [Exodus 9:20]. Their animals were saved. The midrash concludes that these “Yarei Et Devar Hashem” – who actually believed in and benefited from the word of Hashem – later gave their horses to Pharoah to chase down the Jews.
    -on this Rabbi Shimon said: “The best of the Egyptians He killed – The best of the snakes smash its head” [Mechilta, Parashat Beshalach, parashah 1].
    –you see that the average Egyptian was in compliance.
    Mufti you wrote: “That’s fine; but there is also a literal reading of the text that you are trying to gerrymander”
    –Here is another verse (and then are many others) aside for [Exodus 9:14-16] to show the real reason Pharoahs heart was hardened:
    [Exodus 11,9] “And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Pharaoh will not hearken unto you; that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.’ 11,10 And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh; and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go out of his land. ”
    I would like to know the ungerrymandered literal interpretation of any of the verses I quoted or which commentators are trying to iron it out. Who knows maybe there is something I missed I am only a person. At this point though I am pretty sure that what I wrote is accurate.

  23. I think it’s kind of unfair to get upset at someone for not knowing biblical exegesis to the extent of calling up specific midrashim at will. I would think that about 80% of Jews today couldn’t do so- and the other 20%, with whom I’ve spent a good portion of my life, going to religious day- and high-school, spending a year in Israel, and graduating from Yeshiva University, have probably forgotten the specific references, and now take it for granted that everyone knows why Paraoh’s heart was hardened, and how it all jibes with Judaism’s perspective on G-d, if there can be said to be just one. From what I’ve read, Joel’s argument seems to be most cogent, and rational.
    If we must believe- and we must, according to the Rambam- that G-d is omnipotent, and omniscient, then there nothing he doesn’t see, and nothing he can’t prevent. Added to our confusion about G-d’s “plan” is the current time of “Hester Panim,” meaning that G-d is no longer making overt intrusions into our world- and if He/She is, it can in no way be traced to a specific act or event. Say what you will about the exile, but to me a fundamental aspect of its pain and suffering is our detachment from that part of G-d that is in any way understandable: we read every week about sin and direct punishment, about action and reaction within some sort of direct correlation. Then we go home pick up the paper, watch the news, and all we see is chaos. The disappearance of G-d’s Face from our sight is as much a part of exile as G-d’s distance from our souls is a part of Hell.

  24. All I can add is, my rabbi and many others have groaned, only half in jest, “Why did the Hungarians have to survive?!”

  25. I didn’t mean that in general G-d holds the wicked’s “will” in check. Rather, He frusterates their plans and doesn’t let them be successful.
    The current Oslo war is a good recent example. With the collective Palestinian’s desire to drive us into the sea or just plain ‘itbach al yahud’ – slaughter us all, they’ve only managed to kill 1700 Jews over the past ten years. With the type of non-conventional war they are waging, and the fact that as a free society, most of the border is porous for one reason or other, we’ve definitely been spared what Iraq is going through now. There have been open miracles seen on a daily basis, me included.

  26. Hey JS,
    Muffti is clearly out of his league on Torah knowledge. So let him just ask a few questions. He was trying to make the point that God is entitled to do things that seem wrong without offering justification (the book of Job seems to make a nice example when he ‘explains’ his actions at the end) and Muffti thought that Pharoah was also a nice example but he’s willing to let it go. Anyhow, the questions:
    You said:
    . [Exodus 9,27] “And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them: ‘I have sinned this time; the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.”
    –Pharoah says that he AND HIS PEOPLE are wicked.
    Well, fair enough but this doesn’t give good very good textual support. For one thing, its Pharoah saying it. For another, it’s not very clear that biblical thoughts about collective responsibility would mesh very well with our own.
    b. [Exodus 14,5] “And it was told the king of Egypt that the people were fled; and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned towards the people, and they said: ‘What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?”
    –here Pharoah and his servants were in unison.
    Well, it’s a bit of a red herring to say that either only Pharoah or the ENTIRE nation should have been punished. If the servants were evil, then Muffti supposes they deserve what they got (perhaps). Doesn’t follow that Joe Schmo Egyptian who runs a bar and lost his first born deserves what he got.
    c. In the fifth plague of pestilence every every horse, donkey, camel, cow and chicken that was in the field and belonged to an Egyptian was killed [Exodus 9:1-7]. Only those that were not brought indoors. Some Egyptians at this point were fearful of the warnings that all cattle outdoors would be killed.
    Later we find out that Pharoah harnessed his chariot and six hundred others to pursue the Israelites
    That’s pretty consistent with the royal stables having lots of horses indoors that didn’t get killed. Also, Muffti looked back at the text and it doesn’t seem to say that God failed to kill any Egyptian animals.
    Anyhow, thanks for bringing your knowledge to bear on the question.
    A question for both JS and Josh: in linguistics, it’s not good enough to come up with a complete abstract syntax that predicts every acceptable human language. You also have to ensure that your grammar doesn’t predict human languages that don’t actually exist. So the same strikes me as relevant in theology: you don’t just have to explain how some people manage to survive horrible fates via a miracle: You ALSO have to explain why some people suffer horribly despite having done nothing apparently wrong. This was really Muffti’s point to JS all along: saying that God restrains the wicked a lot of the time doesn’t help explain why he doesn’t do it the rest of the time. So why did the 1700 jews die? THe 6,000,000? For the most part, Muffti isn’t sure why Josh’s explanations help reconcile things any. Paradigm shift? A generation had to die out? Did they have to be beaten, tortured, burned, gassed, humiliated, experimented on and shot for that too happen? The jews in the desert didnt’ suffer a fate nearly so cruel. Hastening Israel’s existence? Couldn’t God in all his power have done that without a holocaust? As Muffti said, these are all really just version of the problem of evil which unfortunately remains unsolved so far as Muffti can tell.

  27. Mufti you are asking fair questions:
    quote: “Doesn’t follow that Joe Schmo Egyptian…”
    “it’s not very clear that biblical thoughts about collective responsibility would mesh very well with our own.”
    -Here you are right. Nowadays thoughts on collective responsibility do NOT mesh with the biblical view-I agree with you here.
    -But what has to be addressed is- which is correct and which makes sense.
    Nowadays for example, many feel that there should be no death penalty even if a murderer did kill. They feel that we should “not be like the killer.”
    Many also say that if killer or any other wicked person got moral encouragement and were even taught to do what they do – only the killer himself should bear blame.
    Others feel that even if we were to blame the ones giving actual moral support we should not hold to blame those who quietly allow the wicked to do what they want to do; The ones who could stop the wicked or turn them in but who rather remain silent because they want it to happen.
    I submit to you that the biblical thoughts on this are that all of the above have a degree of culpability.
    Only if someone REALLY was not aware or if someone fought against it then they would not be culpable at all.
    As you noted the whole story of Egypt shows it. Here is one other quote:
    (I also searched for this on the web and touched it up.)
    “And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.” [Exodus 12:29]
    Our Rabbis over 1500 years ago asked this question and they answered according to what becomes obvious from the Torah in many places.
    The Mechilta: [Mechilta , Masechta Depascha Bo, Parasha 13]
    “Unto the firstborn of the captive: What sin did the captives commit? But it was so that the captives should not say, “Our god brought punishment upon them, our god is strong and stood firm, our god is strong, for the punishment did not prevail against us.”
    Another opinion: To teach you that the captives rejoiced at all the decrees Pharaoh decreed against Israel, as it says: “He that is glad at calamities shall not go unpunished” (Proverbs XVII, 5), and it is written “Rejoice not when thy enemy falleth” [Proverbs 24:17]
    “And all the firstborn of the cattle: What sin did the cattle commit? But it was so that the Egyptians should not say “Our god brought punishment upon us, our god is strong, for it brought punishment upon us, our god is strong and stood firm, our god is strong, for the punishment did not prevail against us.”
    [end mechilta]
    Note the second reason “Another Opinion.”
    quote: “Also, Muffti looked back at the text and it doesn’t seem to say that God failed to kill any Egyptian animals.”
    -In this verse it says “that was in the field” and we realize that it means as opposed to in the house because its much more explicit by the hail:
    [exodus 9:19-21] “9,19 Now therefore send, hasten in thy cattle and all that thou hast in the field; for every man and beast that shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die.’ 9,20 He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses; 9,21 and he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.”
    Compare the use of the word ‘field’ here and by the plague of the animals above. Furthermore if all animals were killed earlier what can be killed later?
    For your final question I am going to respond tomorro with G-ds help.

  28. I spent a while thinking how to answer this question on one foot.
    So I decided that the best way would to break it down into concepts and then to combine the concepts.
    You should know that this question was asked to G-d by Moses himself when he said “Show me your ways so that I might know you…” [Exodus 33:13]
    Below is an interesting discussion of whether Moses was answered completely:
    Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 7a:
    “R. Johanan further said in the name of R. Jose: Three things Moses asked of the Holy One, blessed be He, and all three were granted to him… He asked that He should show him the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He, and it was granted to him. For it is said: “Let me know Your ways (Exodus 33; 13)”. Moses said before Him: Lord of the universe, why is it that some righteous men prosper and others suffer, some wicked men prosper and others suffer?.., the Lord said to Moses: A righteous man who prospers is a perfectly righteous man; the righteous man who suffers is not a perfectly righteous man; the wicked man who prospers is not a perfectly wicked man; the wicked man who suffers is a perfectly wicked man.”

    Now this [saying of R. Johanan] is in opposition to the saying of R. Meir. For R. Meir said: only two [requests] were granted to him and one was not granted” [ie he was not granted a complete knowledge of G-ds ways.]
    [End of talmud]
    concept 1: The concept of collective responsibility for those who are happy with the evil that is happening this includes those who don’t care. In other words not only will the actively wicked be punished but the others will be swept with them.
    -We have already seen this in the story of Egypt and we will come back to this below.
    Concept 2: Punishment comes step by step. First small things happen if we take it to heart and change good. If not worse things happen….
    I am bringing down [leviticus 26] You can read the rest of it here: http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/
    “…..26,23 And if in spite of these things ye will not be corrected unto Me, but will walk contrary unto Me; 26,24 then will I also walk contrary unto you; and I will smite you, even I, seven times for your sins. 26,25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall execute the vengeance of the covenant; and ye shall be gathered together within your cities; and I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. 26,26 When I break your staff of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver your bread again by weight; and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied. {S} 26,27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto Me, but walk contrary unto Me; 26,28 then I will walk contrary unto you in fury; and I also will chastise you seven times for your sins. 26,29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. 26,30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your sun-pillars, and cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you. 26,31 And I will make your cities a waste, and will bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. 26,32 And I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies that dwell therein shall be astonished at it. 26,33 And you will I scatter among the nations, and I will draw out the sword after you; and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste…..”
    There are a number of other things I can quote from Dueteronomy and other places but its too much for now.
    Our Rabbis over 1500 years ago summarized this concept and said: “All Israel are guarantors one for the other” ie responsible – one cannot say “it wasn’t me who did the act” – If you don’t care it will be on your head.
    concept 3: If someone is in a dangerous place G-d might do something special to save him IF he is close to G-d. Otherwise why should G-d save him? Is that person “owed” something? We were given life and the one who gave it can also take it – since when are we owed anything?
    -Jacob said
    [Exodus 48:15-16] “48,15 And he blessed Joseph, and said: ‘The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God who hath been my shepherd all my life long unto this day, 48,16 the angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; ”
    -ie there were times were by nature evil would have happened to Jacob- he had rough times with esau with Lavan and others. But he was saved because he was close to G-d [Ibn Ezra]
    – would others have been saved? Not necessarily.
    Our Rabbis have commented based on this concept: “Don’t rely on a miracle.”
    They also warned people not to enter a ruin or other dangerous place. Why? can’t God protect us? Of course He “can” but why should He?
    concept 4: It is possible for a righteous person to be tested even with afflictions like abraham “22,1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him: ‘Abraham’; and he said: ‘Here am I.’ 22,2 And He said: ‘Take now thy son, and….” – the word ‘prove’ is the same as ‘test.’
    and like Job “9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said: ‘Doth Job fear God for nought?…”
    -ie Satan said: “test Job and you will see that he will fail.”
    I personally would think that this concept does not apply to cases of large destruction and not to the question you ask.
    Now let’s combine some of the concepts to address your question:
    When a war comes or massive destruction it is the combination of concepts 1 and 3. Take a look at the book of Jonah “in 40 days ninveh will be destroyed” http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/… -Now do you think that every last person was doing active wickedness? – No, but they didn’t mind what the wicked were doing and in not fighting it are partially to blame (concept 1) and they certainly can’t demand special treatment to be spared (concept 3).
    Lets look at the Holocaust, may G-d avenge the blood of my brothers and sisters. Do I have to tell you of the outright rebellion against Judaism and, in fact, against G-d in general for the 100-150 years before that? When masses were following the “enlightenment” in ever increasing numbers and told G-d “we had enough; the covenant is worthless and You are irrelevant” ?
    Do I have to talk about Israel’s outright rejection of G-d and their attempt to squeeze him out by saying we are a secular land just like the nations. They then give His land to others. Can we question why people are killed when aside for rebellion we, in fact, bring the killers in?
    I would like to point out that the questions that you ask did not need events like the Holocaust – they should have been asked on the bible itself!
    [Leviticus above], [Deuteronomy chapters 28 and 29- read it on your own http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/… ],
    [Ezekiel 5:11-12]- “5,11 Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely, because thou hast defiled My sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall Mine eye spare, and I also will have no pity. 5,12 A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee; and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and a third part I will scatter unto all the winds, and will draw out a sword after them. ” http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/
    When these things that the Torah said would happen do happen -then we ask?!
    Its just the opposite! – If we would not be punished after breaking the covenent thats when we should ask. Then we would ask “You warned us of punishment but it never came and so your word is hollow. There is no God to fear.”
    – Now that we see that the warnings and the threats have been kept I fear Him and I understand that as he promised so has He done.

  29. Wow, JS, Muffti is impressed with your thoroughness!
    As for asking the qs about the bible rather than the holocaust, that was Muffti’s point (though perhaps picking Pharaoh and his people was a bad choice to illustrate). Allow Muffti be a little picky, however, in looking at the argumentation.
    1) The problem of evil is supposed to run like this: a benevolent person tends to help people in general, not just people who are close to him. If you saw a man walk by a drowning child that he wasn’t ‘close’ with, you’d be downright appaled if he didn’t extend an arm to save him (especially if it were very easy for the guy to do it.) Everything is easy for God. Thus, on this model, the world would be better if his benevolence went even to those who weren’t close with him. You’d be appalled if the guy let the child drown, notice, EVEN IF the child’s parents had in the past done fairly bad things to the guy that walks by: why would you take out your frustration on the child?!? So, Muffti doesn’t think that God get’s off that easily jsut for ignoring those that are not as close as possible to him: we wouldn’t want to hold people in general to low standards (i.e. we expect people to do nice things BEYOND what they strictly speaking owe.)
    2) w/r/t Concept 1: while it is one thing to practice collective responsibility on people that are apathetic or directly benefitting from evil (which all of us do all the time whenever we don’t revolt against every immoral thing our governments do!) it is another thing to do that cross-generationally. Muffti knows that God announces his intentions to take things out on kids, third generation and fourth generation. But while we can understand punishing lack of active resistance to an evil currently happening, it’s awfully crappy to punish people who couldn’t possibly have resisted the evil! So concept 1 has to allow for cross-temporal punishing, even if you want to extend your explanation of the holocaust as punishment for taking part in the enlightenment. But, suspeninding your religious beliefs for just one second, doesn’t that seem downright wrong? To punish people who couldn’t have attempted to put an end to evil practice?
    3. Finally, while all Israeli may be brothers one to the other, it doesn’t follow that such a view holds for non-jews. Why should all Egyptians be brothers one to the other?

  30. Let me answer your points in order.
    1. quote: “a benevolent person…we expect people to do nice things BEYOND what they strictly speaking owe.”
    Your comparison is not a good one. The relationship you describe is that of a benevolent person to a stranger.
    More accurate would be the relationship between a giver and a receiver in the case that the receiver has no appreciation and where after being given everything says “go away everything I have is not from you.”
    -That is why the comparison is always father to Son or husband to wife.
    I will quote a part of Ezekiel to show my point. There is a lot more than what I am quoting here.
    [Ezekiel chapter 16…] “16,8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, and, behold, thy time was the time of love, I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; yea, I swore unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest Mine. 16,9 Then washed I thee with water; yea, I cleansed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.
    …but then…
    16,17 Thou didst also take thy fair jewels of My gold and of My silver, which I had given thee, and madest for thee images of men, and didst play the harlot with them; 16,18 and thou didst take thy richly woven garments and cover them, and didst set Mine oil and Mine incense before them. 16,19 My bread also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou didst even set it before them for a sweet savour, and thus it was; saith the Lord GOD. 16,20 Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto Me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Were thy harlotries a small matter, 16,21 that thou hast slain My children, and delivered them up, in setting them apart unto them? 16,22 And in all thine abominations and thy harlotries thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast wallowing in thy blood…”
    Imagine that you bring someone up, give them everything, get them a job and save them in times of danger. Imagine that a time later comes that you need a favor. You are locked out of your house and its raining and you ask this person to let you stay at his house overnight. Imagine now that you are rebuffed and the person purposely ignores your knocking at the door because he simply doesn’t want the bother of making a bed or the bother of getting his house a little wet from the rain.
    Do you think that this ungrateful person is deserving of help? Would you help this ingrate after he does this? Should you help?!
    I might say the opposite – that it is “wrong” to help such a person!
    You mentioned about going beyond what we owe. But is it even the right thing to do to continue helping the ungrateful?
    I think that the above is a much more accurate comparison to our case.
    -when I say a person who is close to Him I mean the son who recognizes and is grateful. The one who is not close is the ungrateful rebellious son.
    2. quote: “Muffti knows that God announces his intentions to take things out on kids, third generation and fourth generation”
    -The truth is that this only applies when the children continue the evil actions of the fathers.
    The meaning is in fact different than what many people think – even many religious don’t understand this:
    In the first sinning generation G-d in slow to anger; ie he doesn’t immediately bring ruin on that generation. Instead small punishments might happen so that they should realize to change. He waits to see if they will change. If they don’t change worse things might happen but in the end He waits. He waits after the first generation for the second generation and then for the third generation; maybe, hopefully they will change and return.
    But, if after all the prior punishments and the continual worsening of the situation the fourth consecutive generation is still stubborn and wicked there is no more waiting…
    3. quote: “Finally, while all Israeli may be brothers one to the other, it doesn’t follow that such a view holds for non-jews. Why should all Egyptians be brothers one to the other?”
    –the truth is that the concept of all Israel are responsible one for the other applies to everyone. (If it didn’t wouldn’t you ask on the fairness of the differing standards of justice?)
    The reason it was said with the words ‘all Israel’ is because we were the audience to whom they were speaking (remember although the general concept is clearly in the Torah, it was the Rabbis 1500 years ago who phrased it like this). Another reason they might have directed it towards us is that we have more to be responsible for- many more commands. Furthermore we, being the chosen people, should know better and more is expected of us.
    -But the concept in general when it comes to such things as killing and rape? – These are things that everyone knows and understands and they will be held accountable for that which they endorsed and willfully ignored.

  31. 1) Interesting, though the traditional analogy seems flawed as well. For what it’s worth, you have clear reason to believe in your wife/son/husband’s existence. Not so much with God who in the torah recognizes that in order to garner belief, you need some sort of revelation while now that doesn’t seem quite as important. So, the analogy would be more like if someone quietly raised you from afar, with financial support and the like, without ever directly revealing himself to you. However, he once in a while dropped hints to let you think he might be there. Now, if you failed to believe in him, but then started drowning, Muffti would think that it would be better to save you if you were the snubbed guy. But maybe Muffti is tainted from growing up in Canada 🙂 Muffti means, lets face it: if God came to Muffti, Muffti would do whatever he asked. Its not hatred for God or snubbing that is really at issue. So, yes, Muffti thinks that there are more benevolent things to do than to let or cause harm to those who snub you, especially if it is semi-unintentionally.
    2) Fair enough if that is the intended meaning of third and fourth generatons. However, that seems kind of out of step with what we see. For example, the egyptian first borns presumably were suffering for the sins of their parents (Muffti knows, we’ve been through this already). David’s son dies explicitly to punish him for taking Batsheba and allowing other nations to ‘blaspheme’ (Muffti wasn’t sure how to perform the ‘cleanups’ that you do w/r/t the text). (“Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.”) Never mind these cases however since presumably there is more to the story there as well.
    Anyhow, to be honest, one thing Muffti likes is the empirical nature of claim: presumably if this is really how God works w/r/t crime and punishment, we should be able to test for it. So, in other words, the prior generations to the holocaust (and presuambly the inquisition) should have been suffering small punishments directed towards the sinners. Do you think that pans out as an empirical prediction? By all accounts, as well, we should be on the path to utter complete ruination if you are right.
    Finally, as for the brothers, Muffti thought that the children of Israel did have a separate justice code. We certainly have expectations that go well beyond what is expected of gentiles. So Muffti doesn’t think its unreasonable that we shoiuld have responsibilities to eachother that go beyond that which gentiles owe.

  32. I apologize for the delay. I got home late and then went away for the Sabbath.
    1. quote: “who in the torah recognizes that in order to garner belief, you need some sort of revelation…”
    -there are two separate things here.
    a. The knowledge that there is a G-d and that HE is one..- even if one were to be born on a desert island- this would be obvious without revelation.
    b. Knowing what happened in Egypt and Sinai and other Jewish People related issues. (Possibly included in this and not in the category above is the knowledge that G-d will and does also intervene in this world to punish the wicked and reward the righteous.)
    This category would not be known to someone born on a desert island but we rather know it from what happened in our history ie the plagues, revelation and other things.
    Now, there exist many who know but don’t want to know.
    They push it away – out of sight out of mind.
    As an example think of the arabs in israel who say that was no temple. Now is it possible for anybody to really believe that?! It is clear; it is history known throughout the world. They know but they would rather it not be so. They would rather not accept it- so they deny the obvious.
    I can say the same about holocaust deniers. They deny in their hatred even though its obviously true.
    Therefore lets tailor my comparison. The comparison would be to a father or king who after bringing you up and doing everything for you sent you off to another country with all that you need in order to learn and study. All you are asked for is to remember him and to bring him honor. Don’t go without a shirt even in the summer which would dishonor him and celebrate his birthday to keep some tie to him.
    But at that country people make fun of your father/king and his country. You laugh with them and tell jokes about your father and make fun of him. It is difficult to not to join with them in putting him and the country down – who doesn’t want to fit in? Aside for that it gets hot and you would like to join them bare-backed. Over time you conveniently forget how you got here and make believe that he had nothing to do with it. It is a little distant and its been a long time since you spoke…
    So it is between us and our Father in heaven. We know our past and we understand logic but many of us choose to put it ‘behind us.’ We say “hey it’s the 21st century we should get with the times and do like everyone else.” We forget our Father because we would rather not remember…
    2. quote: “David’s son dies explicitly…”
    -Children before they have knowledge and understanding are considered possesions of their parents and can be taken from the parents just like a house or cattle can be taken. It is certainly like that for an infant who has no knowledge. The older and the more responsible the child becomes the more they are judged only on their own merits.
    Remember this infant didn’t have to be born – you haven’t asked this question on all the theoretical children who haven’t been born. Why not ask: “what about the million unborn children-what did they do that they are not in this world?” -You understand not to ask that.
    -Here too, this infant who was born and then died- view it as if the infant was never born.
    3. quote: “We certainly have expectations that go well beyond ”
    – That is true and Ill even back you up:
    [Amos 3:1] “3,1 Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt, saying: 3,2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities.”
    -ie “You I have spoken with, you know all that happened- therefore you more than others should know better…”
    -But that doesn’t mean that others bear no responsibilty. Its an issue of how much and for what things. That applies to individuals too. There is no question that even within the Jewish people the leaders, for example, will be held accountable much more than the average guy. They should have known. They should have studied. If not they shouldn’t have led…
    One thing, though, is for sure, the general concept is a universal concept. Those who know that something is wicked and are happy and allow it will stand in judgment for that.
    3. quote: “is the empirical nature …By all accounts, as well, we should be on the path to utter complete ruination if you are right.”
    -This is the sad truth. if you want to go back you can see the terrible anti-semitic laws in Poland where Jews couldn’t hold professional positions, pogroms, false trials like Dreyfus in Russia…there is no dearth of examples. This was always the pattern…
    Now too we are in complete denial. Every day our situation around the world and in Israel gets more and more dire. All we hear is “don’t worry we will give land and all will be well. The enemies won’t hate and the world will be happy with us.” All the while the name of G-d is taboo in Israel and in the main Jewish establishment here. They both fear and put their trust is nations – not in G-d.
    -all you hear is that all is well and bad will not come. Don’t rock the boat just follow us.
    [Jeremiah 6] “6,13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is greedy for gain; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. 6,14 They have healed also the hurt of My people lightly, saying: ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace. ”
    Things don’t change. Then too there were leaders and false prophets calming the people and saying that they shouldn’t worry, the tough times will subside – there is nothing to fear.
    But I do fear…
    Our leaders today are full of arrogance. They sit at the heads of organizations and synagogues and tell everyone “don’t worry.” They in their willful ignorance and their desire to cast off thier obligations put our Father and King out of mind and conscience,
    They in their out and out war to silence those who do raise their voices, it is they who are literally leading us on the path of ruin.

  33. JS, much subtelty as always. But Muffti still has to take issue with point 1a: “The knowledge that there is a G-d and that HE is one..- even if one were to be born on a desert island- this would be obvious without revelation.”
    C’mon, JS, seriously. That’s just false and we both know it. The whole point of the struggle for faith is that we DON’T just know this kind of thing. That it’s not obvious. It took A LONG TIME for people to think that there was clearly a division between us and a single, partless, perfect divinity. Sigh. Muffti guesses this topic won’t be resovled any time soon 🙂 Suffice it to saythat if God’s existence is obvious, many of us are awfully blind.
    Point 2 Muffti just simply didn’t understand. There was a baby. Whatever it knew or didn’t know doesn’t seem to be relevant. Muffti means, you can simply declare that babies don’t have any rights before God to not be killed; but that makes it nonetheless wrong to kill them. If Muffti sees a baby whose parents have died (so it’s ownerless in the relevant sense) and lops off its head thinking that it doesn’t know enough to complain, Muffti has CLEARLY done something very very very wrong. Muffti isn’t sure why its ok for God then to do the same thing to babies. This may be another point where our notion of goodness and the bibles break down (along with notions of collective responsibility). But then we are going to have to admit something: God isn’t all good, at least not in our sense. And he’s not just, at least not in OUR sense. But then it is very misleading to say that God is all good or completely just (because we are using our word ‘good’ and our world ‘just’ when we say that.) But to reiterate, this just IS the problem of evil. If you saw Muffti raping and pillaging and then claiming he was the most good man in the world, but that he meant ‘good’ in a different sense than you did, you wouldn’t be very impressed with Muffti ‘goodness’ 🙂

  34. I assume “JS, much subtelty as always” is a complement Im really not sure what you mean by it.
    1. You wrote: “That’s just false and we both know it.”
    –I don’t know it. To me its 100% true. That doesn’t mean that that you don’t have to ponder it first. There are many deep concepts that upon deeper thought are obvious. As a simple example the fact that the angles of a triangle will always sum up to 180 degrees is obvious -but after pondering it. While a simple person might not deeply grasp it, it is nevertheless a certainty. Science is full of theorems that are obvious only after thought.
    The fact that I would have to ‘convince’ somebody does not make it ‘not obvious.’ It just makes it a deep concept – not a doubtful concept.
    quote: “The whole point of the struggle for faith is that we DON’T just know this kind of thing.”
    -maybe in Christianity its like that. In Judaism though that is not the struggle. That is something we know by thought.
    The struggle of faith for us is not the struggle of intellect and logic but rather the struggle with our emotions as in the Father/King parable above.
    It is very hard to keep the commandments when it causes us not to fit in. It is very hard to keep kosher and the Sabbath all the time. There is a strong pull to steal and cheat if we are down on money. Our natural inclinations are very strong. Compound this with the fact that, as in the parable, its been a long time…Jews are not liked and We’d rather just forget…
    quote: “Suffice it to say that if God’s existence is obvious, many of us are awfully blind.”
    –maybe, but I think its more like those students who find calculus difficult. They walk away not convinced that derivatives and integrals make sense at all. If one were to grasp calculus its truth would be as obvious as simple arithmetic is to those who grasp lesser things.
    What should such a student do? They should a. think about it and study and b. go to someone who really understands it. One thing that they shouldn’t do is to ask someone who doesn’t understand it clearly. In that case when they get rediculous and wrong explanations and they might conclude that derivatives and integrals are foolish and only fools believe that they are true.
    2. Your comparison with yourself killing a baby is a bad comparison.
    You have no right to kill a baby – even if you are the father it is not only yours. You have no more right to this world than the baby.
    G-d is the giver of life and when He puts someone on this world it is for a limited time and He can take back what He gives. That is for both babies and adults no difference.
    I was just trying to explain within that context (ie that He gave and HE has every right to take) how He judges. He told us that if we are righteous that we will be rewarded otherwise we will be punished. Now in terms of a baby and cetainly an infant that doesn’t make much sense. Reward and punishment simply doesn’t exist in thier context.
    Think deeply into what I’m saying this has nothing to do with killing a baby because “it doesn’t know enough to complain” – the way you interpreted my reasoning would apply to a sleeping adult.
    3. quote: “This may be another point where our notion of goodness and the bibles break down (along with notions of collective responsibility)….God isn’t all good, at least not in our sense.”
    –I’m not sure of your point. Is this semantics ie since good and bad are subjective and are definition dependant therefore it never makes sense to claim that anyone or anything is good or bad-is that your point?
    I’m not sure of the point but I’ll just say the following:
    When I myself look at the concept of ‘collective punishment’ and I see that those who are silently complicit in allowing the wicked to act with impunity will be punished I am very happy and I feel that it is just.
    When I know that the millions of Germans who cheered Hitler when he continuously announced his intention to get rid of the Jews, those who weren’t necessarily in the army but who voted and supported and sent their children and countrymen after us. When I know that they will be punished for what they did to us I feel that that is good.
    When the people who walk by their drowning brother and make believe they didn’t see him because they don’t want to have to get wet- when I know that they will get what’s coming to them I feel that that is good and just.
    There are many people nowadays who have their own ideas of good and bad- that doesn’t make it good or bad.
    I thank G-d that he takes revenge on those wicked who hurt and kill us whether they do it with their hands or any other way. In fact if that wouldn’t be the case then, if anything, is when I would wonder why it is just that they get away with it.

  35. Hmm That is the first time I’ve seen comments removed; I suppose it made sense in this case even though that guy defending Nazis dovetailed nicely with my point :).
    In either case, Mufti, its been a few days and you haven’t replied so I’ll check once or twice more. I hope I have satisfied you and answered to the point.

  36. It is my firm belief that God has already made a plan for the world; and in his plan He accommodates for such atrocities, that no one should ever see or hear of for that matter. And those who are wicked will be punished, and those who are the innocent will be awarded.
    However, it is hard to forget such an atrocity as the holocaust, and to forget what happened would be wrong. The way I see it is that it is not man who should punish mankind, but it is God who should punish mankind, because in the end there is an ultimate reason for him doing what he does and if he uses people to do what he wants done than I accept the fact that he will use me. We may question the fact that he is too harsh in his punishment, but like Job, in the end we will be rewarded two fold.
    God told Moses (through a burning bush) to free his people, and Moses replies that he was not the best person to send, but God chose him. What I am getting to is that God uses anyone to fulfill his will, but if you can recall, God showed that he punishes the wicked when he brought the plagues upon the Egyptians. To further the idea of punishing the wicked or those who sin in God’s eyes, I will use the example of Moses himself. Was it not Moses who was told by God to speak to the rock instead of smiting the rock. If you cannot remember the story then it was when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness and the people were getting quite thirsty. Moses disobeyed God and because of it God punished him and he was never allowed to see the Promise Land. Furthermore, when Moses went up to get the ten commandments he came back and found that the Israelites were worshipping pagan gods, it is because of this that they were forced to walk around for forty years, because of it generations died out.
    I agree with Joe Schmo in all of his comments, and if what I just said can be questioned then by all means, I am happy to accept the questions.

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