The Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person (Jewish Encounters Series)
Harold S. Kushner
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Part of the Jewish Encounter series
From one of our most trusted spiritual advisers, a thoughtful, illuminating guide to that most fascinating of biblical texts, the book of Job, and what it can teach us about living in a troubled world.
The story of Job is one of unjust things happening to a good man. Yet after losing everything, Job—though confused, angry, and questioning God—refuses to reject his faith, although he challenges some central aspects of it. Rabbi Harold S. Kushner examines the questions raised by Job’s experience, questions that have challenged wisdom seekers and worshippers for centuries. What kind of God permits such bad things to happen to good people? Why does God test loyal followers? Can a truly good God be all-powerful?
Rooted in the text, the critical tradition that surrounds it, and the author’s own profoundly moral thinking, Kushner’s study gives us the book of Job as a touchstone for our time. Taking lessons from historical and personal tragedy, Kushner teaches us about what can and cannot be controlled, about the power of faith when all seems dark, and about our ability to find God.
Rigorous and insightful yet deeply affecting, The Book of Job is balm for a distressed age—and Rabbi Kushner’s most important book since When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
can be just plain silly. It has been said that superstitions arise at the intersection of maximum concern and minimum control. We care very much about something—money, love, pregnancy—and if we can’t get the result we want by ordinary means, we will resort to all sorts of irrational measures. We see this in matters both vital (serious illness) and trivial (the outcome of a sporting event). A congregant once told me that when his daughter gave birth to a premature baby, his son-in-law’s mother
brought us out of the land of Egypt to hand us over to the Amorites to wipe us out” (Deut. 1:27). If God really loved us, He would have let us remain in Egypt and sent the Egyptians out into this miserable desert. “God hates us” is the people’s way of saying “We hate God for making us live in this desert and for imposing all those rules on us.” A few pages after the Israelites articulate their anger at God, Zornberg pointed out, we find something in the Torah we have never seen before: “You
When a lion kills a zebra, that is not murder, that is dinner, and we never pause to ask ourselves whether the fact that one zebra ran more slowly than the others justified its being killed. But when one human kills another, that is a serious violation of the moral order. Perhaps no area of life raises more questions about the strength of the moral order of our world than the misfortunes that befall so many of us. A few years ago, a Christian theologian wrote a book-length study of what makes
(18:19) It would indeed be the ultimate punishment in the ancient world to have no children to carry on one’s name and line. It would give death yet another dimension of finality, removing a person not only from today’s world but from tomorrow’s as well. Biblical Israel had elaborate provisions to try to avoid that. But Bildad seems blind to the impact those words would have on the recently bereaved Job. Are his friends really so angry at Job that they would utter words calculated to wound him
that he put Isaac to death on an altar, what he was hearing was his own ambivalence about having to raise a special-needs child. One particularly intriguing theory, one to which I find myself drawn, was put forth a while back by Freud’s disciple Theodore Reik in his 1961 book, The Temptation. Reik sees the story as originally having described a coming-of-age ritual like the ones found in many Near Eastern and African societies, where a boy on the threshold of puberty is taken away from his