Israel Drazin


Contrary to the belief and hopes of most people, but consistent with the thinking of
people such as Maimonides and Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903-1994), I don’t think
there is a personal God. I am convinced that God is transcendent: God created
the world out of nothing or formed it out of preexisting and eternal matter,
set the laws of nature in it, and then stopped being involved in the earth and
its people. God is not engaged in what is occurring on earth, and is not
revealed in nature and the daily affairs and history of people. People cannot
have a religious experience of God or connect with God in any way. God is
unknowable. We are, as Maimonides writes, unable to make any meaningful
statement about God. Judaism, according to this view, does not teach about the
unknowable and transcendent God. Judaism is a set of practices and a Jew is he
and she who commits to observe these practices. The benefits of observing these
practices are the acquisition of some truths and the improvement of one’s self
and society. “Some truths,” but not all; truth also comes from science and


Thus God is not the cause of the evils on earth. The laws of nature are good for the
earth as a whole, even though these laws harm individuals frequently. A fallacy
that most people have, Maimonides taught, is that they think that the world was
created for humans. Thus they are surprised when humans are hurt. But the truth
is that we do not know why the world was created and from all appearances, it
was not created as a paradise for people. This is the meaning of the tale of
Adam and Eve being driven from the Garden of Eden: people must realize, as the
Bible goes on to say, that they must work hard to succeed, with the sweat of
their brows. Nothing worthwhile comes easy; if it is easy it is probably wrong.


What is the source of evil? It is not God, the devil, or the stars. Maimonides and
other rationalists, and even the poet Yehudah Halevi, explain that what we
consider evil has one of three sources, although Halevi divides the three into
several more. Many painful situations are the result of what people do to
themselves, such as stepping out in the cold without wearing adequate clothing
or failing to study and then being unable to find a job. The second is when
someone else causes the person pain, such as when Hitler decided to expand
Germany by killing millions or when a neighbor cuts down a tree and it falls on
the house next door. The third is the laws of nature, which, as previously
stated, is good for the world as a whole but can hurt individuals, such as a
heavy rain or winds that clean the earth, but kills people.