The central theological problem underlying the medieval Jewish philosophical tretments of the "suffering of the righteous" is whether God's governance is completely impersonal, or whether it is also personal. Saadya accepts the notion of God's personal governance. Thus he views the suffering of the righteous as a problem of the morality of divine justice. His answer, based on rabbinic sources, hinges on the existence of the World to Come. There ultimate reward and punishment are meted out in accordance with one's deeds. Maimonides' treatement of the problem, on the other hand, supports the interpretation that he regards divine governance as completely impersonal. Suffering is a necessary concomitant of corporeal existence, rather than a punishment for sins, or a "trial" in order to increase one's final reward. To the degree that an individual perfects his intellect, he physically, and more important spiritually, avoids the suffering experienced by man qua corporeal creature. Gersonides accepts the completely impersonal nature of divine governance, yet lists reasons for the suffering of the righteous which are compatible only with the notion of personal governance. Crescas accepts God's personal governance, yet views most of providence as being impersonal. The tensions evident in Gersonides' and Crescas' treatments of the "suffering of the righteous" indicate the extent to which they were caught between philosophic and traditional approaches to divine governance.
|Translated title of the contribution
|"The Suffering of the Righteous" in Medieval Jewish Philosophy
|Number of pages
|דעת: כתב-עת לפילוסופיה יהודית וקבלה
|Published - 1987