Shalom once again in this month of Passover!
There is no more wrenching question. Why do the innocent suffer? Why do some get away with murder. Judaism has a variety of theodicies from Genesis through Job. Look at it from two directions.
One is horizontal, that is communal. It says there is a collective reward for those who follow specific law of Torah. The people Israel will live again in their land. In contrast, there are punishments for the community – when Israel transgresses and disobeys God’s will, they are visited with famine and drought. (Deut 11:13-17.)
Intergenerational punishment: (Ex 20:5-6). God will visit the guilt of the parents upon the 3rd and 4th generation of those who reject Him, but show kindness to the 1000th generation of those who love Him and keep His commandments.Then there is the individual, horizontal line of thinking that each person is responsible for his or her own sins and good deeds. The rabbis used the notions of heaven and hell to explain this. If we are righteous here but suffer, we are rewarded in the
olam haba, the afterlife and vice versa. So the wicked will eventually pay for their sins after death, and the good among us will prosper forever in heaven.
There are other Jewish sages and rabbis who believe that there is no connection between one world and the next, that the world does not make sense in that there is no interference by God in the affairs of men because He won’t step in and interrupt our free will. We will simply be rewarded or punished later on. So the world makes sense to God but not to us and we should stop trying to figure it out.
Then there is the measure for measure approach wherein the specific reward we receive is identifiably related to the deed. The Egyptians lost their males in the last plague and in the Sea of Reeds because they had sought to kill all the Israelite men by throwing them in the Nile. So you see, systematic theology cannot do justice to the complexity of human experience. That is why the rabbis could not come up with one explanation for good, evil and suffering.
We can see that many things are missing from Jewish view of death, resurrection, knowledge of Heaven or Hell, reward or punishment, God’s grace and His mercy, essentially the Plan of Salvation. They have the Spirit of Christ, of course, but the deprival of the Holy Ghost greatly hinders their understanding of God’s plan in this life and the lives to follow. They do not believe in revelation as such or understand its origins.
I know that in my own family my parents were very concerned for the relatives in Ukraine who were being murdered by Hitler’s armies. We prayed for them and hoped they would survive, but finally we put the issue in the hands of God, knowing that He had His reasons for allowing these things to happen. We finally have to shrug and let go of the awful realities we face in this life and live our own lives as well as we can. Evil is a part of life and has been a part of every Jewish memory since Adam and Eve were ushered out of the Garden. Since the Jews will not acknowledge that Yeshua is their Messiah they cannot know the joy of peace that comes as a result of understanding his atonement.
Without the atonement there is no reason for life – it has no reverberation in nature because nothing in this world would exist. The mere fact that all things die and are renewed – that even a seed once planted beneath the soil rises to fulfill it’s potential with the proper care – and often, with only the changing of seasons – is proof that life is sacred and that it is a process of death and rebirth. That wondrous truth, God’s greatest gift – eternal life – is the answer to sorrow, the anecdote to evil, which is full of dead promises and deception. Truth has no agenda or religion. Teach that, and live it.
This is where you as Mormons come in. Discuss these concepts with your Jewish friends. Because of the diverse opinions followed in different sects, many may know very little of what you have heard here today because synagogue attendance does not normally focus on doctrine but on bar mitzvahs or bat mitzvahs, celebration of holidays, songs, prayers, requests for moneyto help build the synagogue or other things. Often, the rabbi will give a discourse on a subject of Torah. Worship services are essentially ritualistic. Your knowledge and your interest in your Jewish friend’s spiritual and worshipping life can enrich it greatly. See:http://www.patheos.com/Library/Judaism/Beliefs/Suffering-and-the-Problem-of-Evil.html,
by Marlena Tanya Muchnick, www.jewishconvert-lds.com, www.peopleofthebook-judaica.com, http://comeuntochrist.blogspot.com, http://judaicaworld.blogspot.com, http://judaicaworld.wordpress.com (overflow blog)