Friday, November 19, 2004

Can God be unjust?

I have been having a discussion with Shira et al on her blog about Esav and the conversation turned to whether God can be unjust. I would start by pointing to Ha'azinu "hatzur tamim poali, ki chol derachav mishpat.." the Rock whose works are perfect, for all his ways are lawful... and it goes on. The Rambam, in his 13 principles, number 11, says "I believe... that the creator.. does good for those that keep his Mitzvot, and punishes those that violate them." I dont think that I would get any argument that from a traditional/orthodox point of view, it is dogma that God is totally just.

How would it work that God is not just? It seems to me that there are a couple of possibilities: God is not all powerful, and therefore is incapable of being totally just. God is all powerful, but doesn't care enough to be just. God doesn't interpret justice as we do. God has decided to be hands off with the world and let it run as it goes, with minimal/no interference, justice be well, da-ned, so to speak. Of course, this leads into a discussion of reward/punishment after death, which I will try to stay out of for now.

If you believe that there is no ultimate justice in the world, this has profound ramifications on day to day actions. Why not steal, if you can get away with it(ignoring the worldly justice system for a second)? So, for people who don't care about justice, this is carte blanche to do what you want(as long as the temporal authorities don't catch you). For people who do care, it is a horrible problem, because the onus of making sure there is ultimate justice falls to you. If you don't resuce the poor, the starving, the mistreated, they will not be recompensed in some other way to balance out their suffering. And, there is no reward for doing all these nice things, except feeling good about yourself.

I am sure this has been discussed in many places, probably books written, so feel free to write in with erudite quotations of all the people I should have read in my wasted youth but didn't. Or just post what you think.

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