To the giant of medieval Jewish theology, Moses Maimonides, human suffering is—to simplify greatly this sage’s sophisticated reasoning—a result of man’s inability to grasp the intricacy of God’s creation. But to the great 20th-century Maimonidean Joseph B. Soloveitchik, such an response to the problem of human suffering is inadequate. Reuven Ziegler, drawing on years of work organizing and editing Soloveitchik’s manuscripts, explains how this rabbi’s understanding of the theological problems posed by worldly suffering evolved following his encounters with the Holocaust, his own battle with cancer, and the illness and death of his wife. Ziegler then goes on to contrast Soloveitchik’s approach to these issues to that of one of his foremost disciples, Aharon Lichtenstein. (Interview by Aryeh Grossman and Alex Drucker. Audio, 67 minutes.)
Two Great Modern Rabbis on Suffering
Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy
Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:
Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.
Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.
In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.