Theodicy (6)

Bachya Ibn Pakudah says in Chovot HaLevovot (4:3) that there indeed often seems to be no justice in the world along these lines. but he adds that the issue is rooted in God’s ‘secret things” and plans (which compares with Ramchal’s perspective, as we’ll see). He agrees, though, with Sa’adia Gaon that sometimes the righteous suffer in return for the small number of wrongful things they’ve done or for them to serve as exemplars of faith, and like the Sifre he too underscores the idea that they’ll be rewarded in the Afterlife.  But he makes the point that sometimes the righteous suffer because they weren’t zealous enough to ask God to judge the wrongful of their own generation.

He then says that the wrongful often do well as a reward for the few good things they did in the world, because they will have righteous descendants or had had righteous ancestors, or so that they could repent and become righteous after all. And he offers the original insights that what appears to be good fortune for the wrongful may actually prove to be harmful for them down the line,  and that their succeeding would test others to see if those others would fall into the trap of trusting in undue reward.

(c) 2014 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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