Why Does God Allow Suffering Judaism

Judaism has long held to the idea that God is wise, loving, and good, but it has also grappled with the problem of how a divinely perfect being could allow suffering in the world. This problem of the existence of evil in the world ages backs to ancient times when Rabbi Hillel asked in the Talmud, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And being for my own self, what am I?”. It is a profound question that each individual must grapple with and it holds true even to this day. Suffering is difficult to accept and hard to understand, but it is in our shared experience of it that gives us insight into the divine will of God.

The Mission of Man

Judaism has sought to make sense of suffering by exploring why it exists and what purpose it serves. A central focus of the religion is on the concept of man’s mission: that is, the responsibility of humankind to use free will to direct their lives in accordance with God’s will. This includes the pursuit of justice, the love and protection of one’s fellow beings and the pursuit of a life of holiness. Additionally, much of Jewish thought on suffering centers on the reality that suffering serves as a reminder to humanity of our fallen state. We are not perfect and suffering is a reminder of the importance of self-reflection and contemplation on how to improve ourselves and the world.

Free Will and the Choice to Do Good

Judaism sees suffering as a necessary part of human experience and asserts that is considered a consequence of human free choice. According to the religion, if man had not been given the power to choose then he would not have been able to develop the power to reason. Reason is required for man to chose good over evil. Moreover, Judaism promotes the notion that, despite the reality of evil in the world, there is great potential for good. It is in our individual and collective choice to do good which fuels the redemptive process.

Evil as the Accompaniment of Good

The Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, teaches that evil is not a separate entity and is instead the “other side of good”, and is necessary for good to exist and flourish. That is, evil exists to show us how to recognize and appreciate that which is truly good. This view illustrates the divine will of God to help us grow and develop new understandings of greatness. By accepting that good and evil coexist, Judaism supports the idea that it is not God that causes suffering, but it is the choices we make to do good or do bad, which give us the ultimate power to create or destroy.

Suffering as a Source of Growth and Transformation

Judaism offers a hopeful perspective in its approach to suffering, suggesting that it can be a source of growth and transformation, as well as a reminder of our humanity. This understanding offers a powerful source of solace, especially in times of adversity. According to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: “Suffering is never just a quirk of fate or a visitation of God’s wrath. At best it is a call to turn and face the God who invites us to a higher place, a better life, a nobler destiny.” This suggests that, when faced with suffering, Judaism provides a lens through which we can seek to make meaning of our experiences and find strength in knowing that they are part of something greater.

No Greater Miracle than Change

Judaism highlights the fact that suffering can be a source of spiritual growth as it encourages us to examine our own prejudices, faith, and individual relationship to the Divine. In this way, Judaism teaches that the power of suffering can be harnessed for healing, personal growth, and even perhaps to move us closer to God. One of the great rabbis, Nachman of Breslov, wrote: “No miracle is as great as the miracle of change.” This speaks to the idea that our ability to undergo change and transformation, particularly in regard to suffering, is in and of itself a miraculous experience.

Suffering as an Invitation for Faith

Lastly, Judaism acknowledges that suffering can be an invitation to explore our faith, growth and development of character. It can be a challenge that allows us to find our way back to God and find a higher purpose and meaning in life. The rabbis teach that while suffering can be a source of pain and hardship, it can also be a place of revelation, inspiration and comfort. Suffering can be seen as a way to experience God in a very real, tangible way. This can manifest itself in our ability to have empathy for others and cultivate a deeper bond with those we love.

A Force for Good in the World

Judaism believes that suffering has the capacity to bring out the best in us, to challenge us to refine our understanding of God and strengthen our relationship with the divine. By deepening our connection with our own faith traditions, Judaism encourages us to take up the cause of tikkun olam (repairing the world). Judaism teaches that understanding suffering enables us to become a force for good in the world, to be witnesses to suffering and to use the pain of suffering to become closer to God.

The Positive Aspects of Suffering

Suffering is an unavoidable part of the human experience, but Judaism teaches that there is beauty and possibility to be found in it. It is in our inner resilience and ability to cope with suffering that Judaism encourages us to find wisdom and courage, to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses, and to make our lives into something meaningful. While the problem of why God allows suffering is a central, theological question for many religious traditions, Judaism seeks to teach that it is by accepting suffering that we can learn to trust and rely on the divine will of God.

The Shared Experience of Suffering

When we allow our suffering to be shared, rather than experienced as an isolated individual, we create a sense of connection with each other. It is through this bond, that Judaism suggests we can learn to work together to improve the plight of suffering and, ultimately, to bring an understanding of the Divine and the power of redemption. Judaism encourages us to look at the bigger picture, to not just endure individual suffering, but to seek deeper meaning through the shared experience of suffering.

The Power of Faith Over Fear

Judaism teaches that through suffering we can experience and honor the divine by trusting in our faith rather than being overcome by fear. We are called to confront our own suffering and that of others with courage and a commitment to do what we can to bring about compassion and understanding. It is in our collective faith that we can embrace our own suffering, use it to tap into our own potential, and embrace the power of love and connection with God, one another, and the world as a whole.

Finding Meaning Within Suffering

In the face of suffering and adversity, Judaism teaches that there is always a chance to find the will of God and the opportunity to create something more meaningful. By recognizing our own suffering we can come to understand that although we are sometimes powerless to change our circumstances, we can transform our experience and perhaps even find redemptive opportunities. It is in this way that we can find meaning in our suffering and come to understand the divine will of God.

Josephine Beck is a passionate seeker of religious knowledge. She loves to explore the depths of faith and understanding, often asking questions that challenge traditional beliefs. Her goal is to learn more about the different interpretations of religion, as well as how they intersect with one another.

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