Suffering & Evil in Judaism

bad things happen to good people

When Bad Things Happen To Good People

Questions like "why did this happen to me?" focus on our past and our pain. Perhaps more helpful are questions that open doors to the future: "Now that this has happened, what shall I do about it?"

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Texts and Traditions

Reward and Punishment

Reward and Punishment

A concept that accounts for suffering, but raises lots of other problems.

Book of Job

An ambiguous divine speech is the subject of great scholarly debate.

The Covenant

At Sinai, the Israelites accepted the punishments that would result if they betrayed God.

Saadiah on Suffering

If suffering is beneficial, then the existence of evil is not a problem.

Suffering and Evil 101

Theological responses to individual and communal tragedy.

Modern Insights

The Uniqueness of the Holocaust

The Uniqueness of the Holocaust

Can the Holocaust be integrated into traditional theological discourse?

Responding to Modern Suffering

Jewish theological discourse after the Holocaust.

How Do We Respond to Tragedy?

First we cry, then we act.

WTF and other Essential Prayers

Sometimes the world is upside down, and the troubles pile over the goodness.

Free Will Defense

The deviant use of human freedom, not God, is the source of evil and suffering.


Controversies

Satan

Satan

The word Satan simply means an adversary and is used in the Bible for any opponent or enemy.

Karet

What does it mean to be 'cut off' from the Jewish people?

Mysticism and Evil

According to the kabbalists, evil is a bi-product of the relationship between humans and the sefirot.

Assisting a Perpetrator of an Evil Deed

Rich interpretation of the biblical injunction to not place a stumbling block in the path of the blind.

Yetzer Hara & Yezter Hatov

The bad inclination and the good inclination in Jewish thought.

Books

Evil and Suffering in Jewish Philosophy

Evil and Suffering in Jewish Philosophy

By Oliver Leaman

Responses to Suffering in Classical Rabbinic Literature

By David Kraemer

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

By Harold Kushner

Why Me God? A Jewish Guide for Coping & Suffering

By Lisa Aiken

Quiz Yourself

Jewish thinkers throughout the ages have asked: Why do bad things happen to good people?

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