Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Holocaust Center Religion 201: How can love and suffering coexist?

 

Rabbi Joshua Neely speaks with audience members after Religion 201 presentation at the Holocaust Center.

The second meeting of the Holocaust Center's Religion 201 series, held Oct. 22, presented another unique opportunity to talk about how different faith communities view the world and its meaning. The Rev. Kathy Schmitz, moderater of the course, introduced the topic for the evening, "How Can a World of Love and a World of Suffering Coexist?" Each of the presenters gave a brief explanation of how his faith addresses that difficult question.

Nav Khalsa, speaking for Sikhism, explained the teaching of his faith. The gurus, he said, tell us that suffering can be a gift from God, a way to build strength that cannot be achieved in any other way.

Rabbi Joshua Neely explained the complexities of Talmudic debate over suffering: some scholars wanted to find a relationship between wickedness and suffering as well as between righteousness and prosperity. Other suggested that perhaps suffering has been given out of love. But after decades of debate and reflection on what we can see of human experience, Neely said that evidently suffering and God's will simply cannot be understood by the human mind.

Steve Boemler, representing the Baha'I faith, quoted the stories of mystics who explain that suffering is part of a necessary journey to reach God, and would make sense only when seen from a distance of place and time.

Members of the audience raised questions about different types of suffering, talking particularly about the distress of seeing children suffer. There was also strong interest in looking at suffering caused deliberately by others as opposed to the random suffering of injury, disease and death.

Religion 201 presentations are head at the Holocaust Center, 851 N Maitland Ave. They start at 7 p.m. and last about two hours. They are open to the public free of charge and reservations are not required. Further information about the program is available on the Center's website: http://www.holocaustedu.org or by calling 407-628-0555.

 

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