My Jewish Learning

Suffering & Evil Quiz

Jewish thinkers throughout the ages have asked: Why do bad things happen to good people?

Question 1. According to the Talmud, when Rabbi Akiba was tortured by the Romans at the end of his life, what did he do?
 He repeated the Shema prayer again and again
 He closesd his eyes and ignored the pain
 He mystically enabled himself to explode into fire
 He embraced the pain and redirected it for good


Question 2. True or false: In traditional Jewish thought, Satan does not exist.


Question 3. The problem of justifying God despite the existence of evil is called:
 None of the above


Question 4. What is karet?
 When a particular sin is punishable by death
 The biblical penalty of being "cut off from the people"
 A certain kind of justice meted out in biblical courts
 The term for one who has been sentenced to death but has not yet been executed


Question 5. Which of the following did Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, believe?
 God is responsible for creating both good and evil forces in the universe
 The term "God" represents "the power for salvation" in the universe
 Our idea of God is merely a representation for that which we consider to be good
 Evil is merely a human construction for that which we cannot understand


Question 6. True or false: The concept of reward and punishment is the Torah's explanation for the existence of suffering.


Question 7. Which of these offenses was not penalized by karet?
 Failing to be circumcised
 Eating leaven on Passover
 Committing incest


Question 8. How does the Bahir, the earliest kabbalistic work, describe the sefirah (Godís emanation) of "power"?
 "The penitential sefirah"
 "That which has the name of evil"
 "The sefirah of Satan"
 "The compassionate one"


Question 9. Is the character of Job (from the Book of Job) a Jew?
 We are unsure


Question 10. True or false: In the Talmud, the rabbis tend to focus on theological solutions to the problem of evil, rather than the human response to suffering.