Medieval Jewish Responses to Suffering & Evil

The philosophers and mystics of the Middle Ages suggested an array of solutions to the problem of suffering.

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Crucially, neither the availability of alter­natives nor the experience of persecution caused Jews to abandon the ancient formula. Even Gluckel of Hameln, a woman of rela­tive comfort and culture, returns to this pi­ety on several occasions in her memoirs. Writing near the end of the seventeenth century, she clearly believes that sin is punished with suffering, which in turn atones the sin. God’s judgment is just, she says, and to be accepted in modesty.

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Dr. David Kraemer

Dr. David Kraemer is Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is a Senior CLAL Associate at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.