(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 22:54:31 -0500 (EST)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Suffering

I recently pointed out in the name of Rav Hirsch that of the 10 plagues in
Egypt, plagues 1,2,4,5,7,8 had prior warnings by God (and hence the plagues
could be perceived as EDUCATIVE) while plagues 3,6,9 had no such warnings
(and hence the plagues could be considered as REVENGEFUL)

Micah in Torah Forum V1 #51 asks two questions: (1) If there is no warning
and the plagues are educative then what is Gods purpose (2) REVENGE as a
goal seems below the Jewish conception of God.

First of all, the question is not on me but is on Rav Hirsch whom I think
you will grant has solid grounds for noticing two types of Divine punishment.

Second, there is an explicit gmarrah: >  >  Great is revenge for the word
revenge was placed between two Divine names... 'A God of Revenge is God'
(Ps 94:1)<  <   (Beracoth 33a)

Finally an anectode here is preferable to a philosophical discussion. I
personally heard this from the Rav, Rabbi Joseph Baer Soloveitchick whom I
had the privelege of listening to for 7 years. Commenting on the then
recent success of finding some Nazis in hiding the Rav asked, "What
motivates the people and orginazations that seek out these criminals, years
after their deeds?". "Is it justice?", asked th Rav.

The Rav continued: "But you and I have a sense of justice---why aren't WE
out looking for criminals?".

The Rav concluded that the *real* motivation behind the people who seek is
revenge. "Is that type of revenge bad?", asked the Rav. "No! Because it
leads to justice."

Thus the point of the Rav's story is identical with what Ulla said in
Berakoth: "Why the mention of vengeance twice in this verse (Ps 94:1).
Because there are two vengeances---for good and for evil."

It is conceivable that the reader may still not be convinced. But perhaps
that is due to the good lives we have had in America---perhaps we have
never experienced the *legitimate* need for revenge---the type of revenge
that Ulla in Beracoth calls "good" and that the Rav pointed out leads to
acts of justice.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d. ASA
RHendel @ mcs drexel edu