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Why Is there Suffering?

Theology's oldest dilemma reveals Judaism's most profound truths.

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Visitor Comments: 17

(15) Unknown, August 8, 2011 7:08 AM

If God knows everything, how can freewill exist? If God chooses not to exercise his foreknowledge, how can he know all AND not know at the same time? If God can do the illogical, why not create the world w/o suffering and give humans freewill? You claim that suffering can be positive but there are some people (very small minority) who can't feel pain yet they can feel pleasure and appreciate it. So how does suffering being used to build character justifies it's existence when there are those who are incapable of feeling pain have character?

Chuck, January 3, 2017 8:32 PM

"Everrything" really means everything

To understand what is meant by "G-d knows everything," you need to expand your definition of everything.

I'll take an example from mathematics, l'havdil. There are an infinite number of counting numbers. But the number of possible numbers between 0 and 1 is an even bigger set of numbers than that.

So too with Hashem. Hashem knowing everything that's going to happen doesn't remove free will - because "everything" really means "Everything that COULD happen." Imagine a single person who makes a mere ten "yes-no" decisions a day; that gives us 1024 possible world-paths. Hashem knows all possible world paths that a person can could take.

(14) Meir, August 5, 2008 10:28 PM

G-ds master plan

I dont understand. You believe in G-d, you believe that He is Almighty and the Ultimate Good, and yet you question His ways?? If He wasnt so good, why are people healthy? Why arent we all chas v'shalom sick and disease-ridden? It must be, from the fact that some people get sick and others dont, that He DOES have a master plan. Us mortals, with our keyhole perception of things, can hardly expect to understand something beyond what we see. For example, theres a parable about a simple peasant that watched a landowner chop down a forest. "What are you doing?!" he yelled. "Calm down," he was reassured, "you'll see." Later, he saw a group of men take plows and rip up the ground until there were several deep gashes in the earth. "Stop! You're ruining the ground!" "Dont worry, you'll see." Then he saw them pour seeds into the ground and cover them up. A few months later, he saw beautiful stalks of wheat - only to be harvested. "Thats it!" he complained. "How long will you destroy everything?" The landowner quietly led him into the house, where the delicious smell of baking bread was detected. "Have some" he was offered. When he tasted delectable bread, he said, " ah, now I understand Everything". So too with us and G-d(I hope you get the point). Btw, I know Rabbi Becher personally, and he knows his stuff. No use arguing.

Lukas Dohnal, July 19, 2013 6:23 PM

Possible refutation of "master plan idea"

That makes quite a bit of sense. The only possible "hole" in this parable is that people are bound to follow the established rule of their physical existence, while God is supposed to be the Supreme Being, Essence of everything and so on. Contrary to humans, is not he the One who establishes all the rules according to which the existence unfolds? Human are bound by laws of physics, so they have to follow a certain process (which even involves "destruction"). But God is the Creator of all the rules of existence, or not? That is why this justification of "supreme plan" never made complete sense to me. I always thought that Supreme Being is the Creator of all the rules, not bound by them, being able to change them or destroy them at any given moment. Thus it does not make sense to me that a Supreme Being would be forced to act according to imperfect rules which require the existence of suffering to bring about something good, not to mention that if the Being created those rules, it should have the ability to change them or destroy them as I said. Another parable saying the same thing as you to which I could give this same "doubting answer" is the parable of a surgeon performing surgery on someone, watched and criticized by a butcher or a tanner, which do not understand the requirement of "harming the living flesh by cutting it to eventually help the body as a whole". ... The only answer about this dilemma which could probably solve it in some way appears to be that God Himself is bound by rules which He does not control, or that He established the imperfect, suffering-bringing rules that currently exist simply because that perfect world would seem too "boring" to Him. Or...?

(13) Anonymous, July 23, 2008 1:59 PM

Why do innocent babies suffer and die?

I lost my 2 month old daughter 3 months ago. She was born with several birth defects. I understand sometimes people (even babies) suffer because of another person's bad choices, that there are always consequences to sin. But what about situations like this, where it just happened, and nobody caused it, or could have done anything about it?

And if G-d opens and closes the womb, then why do child abusers and drug addicts and molesters get blessed with children, and my baby was born doomed to die?

And if He can and does perform miracles, then why some and not others? Why not let the tortured babies out of their pain, and spare the ones who will be loved?

I don't know what to think about Him anymore.

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