Thursday, August 30, 2007

God and the Wicked

Here is yet another classic question that was thrown in my direction by a sweet 12 year old at BA camp. He said: "We just learnt in a shiur that God loves all his creations. Well, I was just wondering then. Did God love Hitler?"

- Gulp! Try answering that "on one foot."

Now I don't know where we know that God loves all his creations, but there ARE a multitude of places in which God talks about hating evil. Now, there is the famous Gemara (Berachot 10b) with Beruria in which it is suggested that God hates evil, rather than evil people. One can examine texts such as these: eg. ה' צדיק יבחן ורשע ואוהב חמס שנאה נפשו (תהילים י"א) and אוהבי ה' שנאו רע, or even better - Mishlei 11: באבוד רשעים רינה.

On the one hand:

(ט) טוֹב יְדֹוָד לַכֹּל וְרַחֲמָיו עַל כָּל מַעֲשָׂיו:

But on the other:

(כ) שׁוֹמֵר יְדֹוָד אֶת כָּל אֹהֲבָיו וְאֵת כָּל הָרְשָׁעִים יַשְׁמִיד:

But I learnt a Mishna this week that seems to tip things in favour of God's concern for ALL his creations, even criminals. When talking about Capital Punishment, the Mishna in Massechet Sanhedrin says:

משנה מסכת סנהדרין פרק ו משנה ה
אמר ר' מאיר בשעה שאדם מצטער שכינה מה הלשון אומרת כביכול קלני מראשי קלני מזרועי אם כן המקום מצטער על דמם של רשעים שנשפך קל וחומר על דמם של צדיקים

In other words, God loves all people. He hates evildoing. And yet, even the suffering or death of the evildoer gives Him distress.


Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

i guess the question then is, how much does this apply, והלכת בדרכיו-wise, to how *we* as human beings should relate to evil and evildoers?

some have argued that the rebuke of מעשי ידי טובעים בים ואתם אומרים שירה by Shirat Hayam is an extra level which humans are not meant to strive for... i don't think that's right.

Alex Israel said...

Yes Steg. The practical side is always the problem. When massechet Sanhedrin talks about God's pain at the suffering of his creations, it is talking about a person who is a criminal, sentenced to death, and executed! And it is amazing that despite the fact that this person is a despicable human being, at some level, it still hurts God.

The best "mashal" that I can think of could be parents whose son has committed an awful crime. The parents might disaprove of their son, even abhor him, hate him. And yet , I imagine that in some small place, there is still a tweak of pain and sadness when the son suffers, when he is given the electric chair. For those parents, after all, he is still their son. Love is there to all children.

When the Sanhedrin execute a person, they fast. They don't make a kiddush. Certainly there is no joy.

And we are God's children. He might have to destroy the evil people, but he isn't smiling.