Podcast: Shalom Carmy on Jewish Understanding of Human Suffering

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On June 24, 2021, in the middle of the night, part of a 12-story condominium building in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, suddenly collapsed. Thus far, eighteen people are confirmed dead and 145 remain missing as rescue operations continue. Like other natural disasters, the tragedy in Surfside was a loss of innocent life that, for believers in a just God, seems completely disconnected from notions of justice, reward, and punishment.

Why is there suffering? How should Jews understand a world laden with it, while still trying to connect to a loving and benevolent God? On this week’s podcast, the theologian and rabbi Shalom Carmy, a professor of Jewish philosophy at Yeshiva University and, until 2019, the longtime editor of Tradition, the theological journal of the Rabbinical Council of America, joins Mosaic Editor Jonathan Silver. Carmy guides listeners through Jewish ways of thinking about suffering, in part by referring to an essay by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, “Aninut and Avelut.”

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

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