Sunday, October 11, 2009

Succot, Theodicy and Finding Meaning in Tragedy

The question of evil and theodicy has filled books, and I only want this to be a short blog. But in addition to being one of the strangest things we Jews do (and we do a LOT of strange things) the circling of the Bimah for the Hoshanot during Succot reminds me of a discussion that touches on God’s power.

The Gemara in Shabbat 104a relates that “Every day in the festival of Succot they would encircle the altar and recite O Lord deliver us; O Lord let us prosper (אנה ה הושיעה נא אנה ה הצליחה נה). Rabbi Judah said they would recite ‘ אני והו הושיעה נה – I and you; may you deliver us both.”

Does God also need saving? And does a non-omnipotent but all-merciful deity al la Rabbi Akiva and Harold Kushner make it easier to find meaning in tragedy?

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