Race, angels, and evil

By Israel Drazin

 

A reader of this website sent me three questions. Here are
the questions and my responses.

 

(1)   I note your pure blue eyes and
wonder: how do some Jews have such?  Do
these features prove that Jews were breeding with non- Jews way back in
history?

 

I THINK THAT JEWS, LIKE ALL OTHER
PEOPLE INTERMINGLED WITH NON-JEWS THROUGHOUT THE MILLENIA. I AM NOT BOTHERED BY
THIS. PEOPLE WHO ARE BOTHERED ARE BOTHERED BECAUSE THEY LIKE TO THINK, AS THE
MEDIEVAL POET YEHUDA HALEVI INSISTED, THAT JEWS ARE A PURE RACE THAT IS
BIOLOGICALLY FAR SUPERIOR TO OTHER PEOPLE. HE THOUGHT THAT CONVERTS TO JUDAISM
DID NOT HAVE THIS RACIAL SUPERIORITY. I THINK THAT JEWS ARE PART OF A
CIVILIZATION THAT INCLUDES RELIGIOUS PRACTICES AND IDEAS. ANYONE CAN JOIN IN IF
THEY LIKE AND BE AS GOOD AS THE PEOPLE BORN INTO IT.

 

(2)   How do Rabbis accept the profound
ideas in The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain?

 

MARK TWAIN MOCKED THE NOTION OF THE
EXISTANCE OF ANGELS AND AN OMNIPRESENT GOD WHO IS EVER HELPFUL, A DEITY WHO IS
NOT ONLY RSPONSIVE TO PRAYER, BUT RUSHES TO COMPLY WITH THE HUMAN WISHES AS A
CHILD RUSHES TO HIS MOTHER’S CALL. MOST PEOPLE, JEWS INCLUDED, DISAGREE WITH
TWAIN BECAUSE THEY ARE FEARFUL AND WANT SOMEONE OR SOMETHING ALWAYS AVAILABLE
TO HELP THEM. VERY FEW PEOPLE, AND I AM ONE OF THEM, DO NOT AGREE WITH THE
GENERAL POPULATION. I THINK, AND I THINK THAT THE GREAT PHILOSOPHER MOSES
MAIMONIDES (1138-1204) THOUGHT, THAT GOD CREATED OR FORMED THE UNIVERSE WITH
GOOD WORKING LAWS OF NATURE, AND THEN BECAME TRANSCENDENTAL, NO LONGER INVOLVED
WITH THE WORLD AT ALL. WE DON’T KNOW WHY GOD CREATED THE WORLD. IT IS MOST
LIKELY A MISTAKE TO IMMAGINE THAT GOD DID IT FOR THE SAKE OF PEOPLE.

 

(3)   And how can anyone find a loving God
in the face of natural pain and misery for humans, especially babies?  Is there anyone or any book that answered
these questions?

 

I THINK THAT MAIMONIDES ANSWERED THIS
QUESTION WELL. PEOPLE ARE BOTHERED WITH THIS QUESTION BECAUSE THEY ARE
CONVINCED THAT GOD IS LOVING AND ALWAYS INVOLVED WITH HELPING PEOPLE. IF THIS
IS TRUE, THEY ASK, HOW COME BAD HAPPENS TO GOOD PEOPLE. HOWEVER, AS I WROTE
ABOVE, I UNDERSTAND MAIMONIDES TO SAY THAT THIS PREMISE IS WRONG: GOD IS NOT
IMMANENT, GOD IS TRANSCENDENTAL; GOD IS NOT INVOLVED IN THIS WORLD; THE WORLD
FUNCTIONS ACCORDING TO THE LAWS OF NATURE.  THESE LAWS ARE GOOD FOR THE WORLD AS A WHOLE,
BUT MAY NOT BE GOOD IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES FOR PEOPLE. MAIMONIDES SAID THAT
BAD THINGS OCCUR TO PEOPLE FOR ONE OF THREE REASONS. A PERSON MAY HARM HIM OR
HERSELF, AS WHEN THEY WALK ACROSS THE STREET INTO TRAFIC WHEN THE LIGHT IS RED.
SECOND, A PERSON OR PERSONS MAY HARM THEM, AS WHEN HITLER INVADED AUSTRIA TO
EXPAND GERMANY. THIRD, PEOPLE MAY BE INJURED OR KILLED BY THE REGULAR LAWS OF
NATURE, SUCH AS A HURRICANE, WHICH IS GOOD FOR THE EARTH, FOR IT HELPS CLEAN
THE AIR, BUT IT KILLS PEOPLE WHO DO NOT AVOID IT.

 

I HOPE THESE ANSWERS HELP. I REALISE
THEY ARE THE VIEWS OF ONLY A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE. I THINK THAT EVERYONE SHOULD
BELIEVE WHAT HE OR SHE WANTS TO BELIEVE AS LONG AS THEY DO NOT HURT OTHERS.
THEY SHOULD FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THEMSELVES AND ENJOY LIFE. MAIMONIDES NEVER
TRIED TO PERSUADE THE GENERAL POPULATION THAT HE WAS RIGHT, AND I DON’T EITHER.

ISRAEL

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