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Choose Goodness
Mon, 12/20/2010 - 19:00



The great question of why God permits evil is usually treated in Judaism less as a “why” question than as a “what” question: Given the evil in the world, what do we do about it?

We can wonder about God’s role, but it is ultimately inscrutable. We cannot know. Imagine how little a 2-year-old understands an adult. He cannot even understand what he does not know. The Jewish tradition conceives of the gap between humans and God as far greater than that between an adult and an infant. So how, ultimately, can we understand?

What we can do is act. Faced with evil, we can choose goodness. In a weary world, mitzvot enable us to begin closing the breach between what is and what should be. Even in the most difficult circumstance, we can choose. As the great Viktor Frankl writes in “Man’s Search for Meaning”:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow his teachings at

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On the contrary, Rabbi Wolpe. There is a 'why.' in Yiddishkeit. However, one is required to learn Torah in a more complete way. Studying (not reading) the Zohar HaKadosh, Kitvai Ha'Ari, zt"l, the Ramchal, all of Chassidut is the way to the why. In other words, rather than being a 'fundamentalist' by just translating the Chumash into english and to delve into P'Nimiut Torah, and therefore honor the Unity of HaShem by honoring the unity of His Torah and Revelation by pursuing Kol HaTorah Kulo, one can arrive at the Chochmah, Bina and Da'at of the 'why.' When one posseses the 'why' the potency and efficacy of the 'how' becomes exponentially enhanced. I invite you to come learn with us in Yerushalayim and aquire it for yourself. Then, you could become and even more potent Jewish guide to the perplexed.