Monday, July 16, 2007

16-Jul-07: On Suffering

In its current edition, The New Criterion invites a distinguished panel to explore the meaning of suffering. The managing editor of Frontpagemag.com , Jamie Glazov, arranged and hosted the panel. He introduces the subject with these words:
Is there a meaning to suffering? The question of Fyodor Dostoevsky's Ivan Karamazov comes to mind -- returning the ticket to G-d (rejecting G-d and His order) if there is one innocent suffering child in the world. At the same time, the paradox appears to be that at the moment of greatest weakness and mans brokenness potentially lies the moment of his spiritual triumph. And perhaps the redemption of others. Or is suffering futile?
The panel comprises:
  • Roger Kimball, co-editor and publisher of the New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. He is the author of many books, including The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art.
  • Dr. Gregory Yuri Glazov, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University and the Coordinator of the Great Spiritual Books Program for the Seminary's Institute for Christian Spirituality.
  • Judea Pearl, the father of Daniel Pearl and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation (www.danielpearl.org) is a professor of computer science and artificial intelligence at UCLA.
  • Frimet Roth, one of this site's bloggers, and a freelance writer based in Jerusalem who frequently contributes articles dealing with terrorism and with special-needs children.
  • Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi, Director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community.
  • Fr. Maurice Guimond, a Trappist monk at Our Lady of Calvary Abbey, in Rogersville, New Brunswick, Canada. He was superior of his community for ten years.
  • Rabbi Richard Yellin, a pulpit rabbi in Florida
  • David Evanier, a novelist and journalist, and a former fiction editor of The Paris Review.
Frimet Roth's contribution is actually the first one in the series. Here's a taste:

I don't envy parents whose children's murderers beg their forgiveness. Theirs is a troubling dilemma. But it's one that I am confident will never confront me. In a new documentary the imprisoned murderer of my daughter, Ahlam Tamimi, smiled when she learned that the bombing she helped execute actually killed fifteen people, not the eight she had presumed. In an earlier statement to the media she boasted that she had no regrets about her actions and was confident she would soon be free despite her 16 consecutive life sentences. I am determined to do everything possible to prevent not only her release but that of all Palestinian prisoners "with blood on their hands", as the murderers are referred to in these parts.

Judaism takes what I consider a most sensible view of forgiveness. If someone who has wronged you asks your forgiveness, you may only rebuff him twice. After his third approach, he is released from blame and you become a wrong-doer. But this is entirely unrelated to any punishment meted out by the judiciary, which he must serve regardless. The Bible and other traditional sources abound with examples of repentant enemies of Israel who were welcomed into the fold with open hands.

I have heard parents of murdered children report "release" and "closure" after reaching out to unrepentant murderers. They baffle me. I'm all for forgiveness - but only when it is appropriate.

The rest is here.

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