Ahavas Sholom – an Historic Landmark and Sacred Space

Newark's Last Remaining Synagogue born of the Great European Migration at the turn of the 20th Century

145 Broadway, Newark, NJ 07104
Phone: 973-485-2609 | Email: cahavassholom@optimum.net


Simon Says, October 8, 2021

I learned in my philosophy course that I took in my sophomore year at Rutgers, that David Hume said that God could not be omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent. 

I need to digress.  Philosophy is not my thing.  I have probably told the Gordian Knot story many times:  King Philip in the fourth century b.c.e. traveled to Gordian accompanied by his 13-year-old son.  He left his son with some elders, and the son was interested by a large ball of string suspended in the town square.  The boy asked the elders, “What is that ball of string?”  The elders replied, “That is the Gordian Knot.”  The boy wanted to know what the Gordian Knot was, and the elders told him that whoever untied the Gordian Knot was destined to be the ruler of the world.  The boy circled the Gordian Knot.  After circling the Gordian Knot he drew his sword, and cut the Gordian Knot in half.  He died at 33, but he was ruler of the known world:  Alexander the Great.  I am a Gordian Knot kind of guy.

The Noah story tells us that God is not infallible.  After creating the earth and the animals and men, God decides that men have become evil, and brings the flood to cleanse the earth.  Why did God not create man without an evil inclination?  After the flood (that cleansed the earth), men (and women) reverted to their pre-flood attitude.  Why did God save Noah and his family, to have men turn evil after the flood? 

At the end of Parashah Noah, we have the Tower of Babel story.  The people on the earth spoke one language, and God dispersed the builders, causing them to speak many languages.  I think that God made a mistake, because many different languages is a source of dissension and hatred.  How many times do you hear from people, “Speak English; you’re in America?”

I have an answer to my questions.  God gave free will to mankind, to behave well or to behave badly.  Mostly, we are more civilized than ancient societies, and we are more civilized than medieval societies.  Mostly, we in the United States are more civilized than we were in the 1800s, and mostly we in the United States are more civilized than we were in the 1950s.  God gave us free will to grow, and we need it to grow more civilized every year.  With any luck, evil will be banished before long.