My Jewish Learning

Suffering & Evil Quiz

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

Question 1. Which of these is an interpretation of the biblical punishment of karet?
 Spiritual excommunication
 Dying before the age of 60
 Dying childless
 All of the above
 None of the above


Question 2. Which of the following claims did Maimonides deny in his philosophical writings?
 God is perfectly good
 God is all-powerful
 God is all-knowing
 Evil is real


Question 3. Which of the following did Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, believe?
 God is responsible for creating both good and evil forces in the universe
 The term "God" represents "the power for salvation" in the universe
 Our idea of God is merely a representation for that which we consider to be good
 Evil is merely a human construction for that which we cannot understand


Question 4. According to the Bible, what did God promise to the Jews at Mt. Sinai, if they followed God's ways?
 Rewards if they followed God, suffering if they did not
 Only rewards
 Only suffering


Question 5. Why is the question of suffering and evil unique among theological and philosophical problems?
 It confronts us almost daily
 Jewish history is replete with tragedy, both individual and communal
 The Holocaust significantly impacted the discourse around this problem
 All of the above


Question 6. Who called evil "the most difficult matter…with which scholars of all ages, people and tongues have struggled"?
 Rabbi Harold Kushner


Question 7. Who wrote the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People?
 Blu Greenberg
 Rabbi Louis Jacobs
 Rabbi Harold Kushner
 Gertrude Berg


Question 8. What is Berkovits and Cohen's “Free Will Defense" argument about the source of evil and suffering?
 Human evil is the necessary and ever present possibility entailed by the reality of human freedom
 Because humans have free will, nothing is truly evil
 Because free will does not exist, God is culpable for all sins
 Humans have too much freedom, and only religion may restrict it


Question 9. What do traditional Jewish sources teach about Hell?
 There is no afterlife in Judaism
 There is a heaven and a hell, similar to the Christian division
 There is an incorporeal "middle ground" called Gehennom, or purgatory
 There is an afterlife, but only for good people


Question 10. Which approach to a painful experience does Rabbi Harold Kushner recommend?
 Pretending it didn't happen
 Dwelling in the pain
 Asking, "What did I do to deserve this?"
 Asking, "Now that this has happened to me, what am I going to do about it?"