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February 7, 2017 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Beschallah

This week’s Torah portion involves a miracle- the Splitting of the Sea, causing the Hebrews to escape Egypt for good.  Reflecting on this, Miller writes: “God is the essence of good and desires to do good… Reflect upon this frequently and deeply, and w0rry will be dispelled at once.”

I guess the validity of this statement depends on the meaning of the word “good.”  If by “good” we mean “good” to every individual human, this statement strikes me as highly questionable.  Certainly in this life, even the best lives usually end in suffering (because of old-age related diseases) and death.   The difficulty of this problem has forced humans to invent the concept of an afterlife in which humans are compensated for their lifetime pain.

A Jewish traditionalist might argue that the Torah actually supports the notion of the afterlife.  I am perfectly prepared to assume this is so- the Oral Torah of Jewish tradition unequivocally believes in a mostly-good afterlife, though the Written Torah could, I think, be read either way.  But non-Jewish religions agree- which tells me that belief in an afterlife is a basic human urge, a way to make God seem better.

Alternatively, one could define “good” very differently- as good for the planet or universe as a whole.  But this concept of goodness certainly doesn’t dispel worry for an individual, who might reasonably believe that he or she (or his nation/culture/other relevant collective) gets the short end of the goodness stick even if the universe as a whole wins out.

 

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