PROVIDENCE AND EVIL - "BAD" THINGS FOR "GOOD" PEOPLE


0. Holocaust - Problem of Uniqueness

A. Uniqueness implies detachment from the rest of Jewish history

B. Proportion killed, cruelty, social and psychological trauma were not unique

C. Uniqueness of Nazi psychology is of minimal importance to us

I. General Principles

A. Critic must show absolute contradiction: omniscience, omnipotence, moral perfection vs. evil

B. Evil = undeserved suffering

C. General explanation, not for individual cases - compare physics

D. Past justification (justice, desert) vs. future justification (good consequences)

II. Past Justification

A. "Good" people

1. possibility of bad private life

2. incomplete list of responsibilities

3. higher standard

B. Self-induced suffering

1. physical, emotional self-abuse

2. waste of resources

C. Reincarnation (gilgul neshomos)

III. Future Justification

A. Cosmic

1. psychological - world = G-d's hiding place to enable free will - so impossible to systematically prevent or punish evil; nature must be morally neutral so natural evil is explained; not only must the righteous suffer, but the wicked must also prosper

2. logical - virtue means doing the right thing for the right reason - for no personal advantage

B. Social

1. clarify motivation of righteous to set example

2. to atone for generation

[Note: A and B are fair since the suffering individual contributes to

a system from which also he benefits]

C. Personal

1. suffering to focus the sufferer on really important aspects of life

2. develop virtues - courage, charity, compassion etc.

3. increase reward in Olom Haba (savage-gems)

[Note: IIC, IIIA, IIIC1-3 apply to children's suffering]

IV. Absolute contradiction only if proven that none of the justifications applies - clearly impossible; mercy, goodness in addition to justice (future justification)

V. Each pain is suffered by an individual person. "Collective pain" is just the sum of individual pains. The problem of explaining suffering is not affected by the concentration or diffusion of the pain. Therefore the Holocaust does not present a special problem of evil: if each pain suffered can be explained then the problem is solved.


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