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The trial of God (as it was held on February…
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The trial of God (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) : a… (original 1979; edition 1995)

by Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel

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256663,721 (4.25)3
Member:jxn
Title:The trial of God (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) : a play
Authors:Elie Wiesel
Other authors:Marion Wiesel
Info:New York : Schocken Books, c1995.
Collections:Your library, printbooks
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The Trial of God by Elie Wiesel (1979)

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A compelling drama in which a Jewish man who has lost his entire family to a pogrom places God on trial for crimes against humanity. Whilst set in 1649, it is clearly inspired by Wiesel's own experiences in the Holocaust; he explicitly admits that it was based on one of his experiences in Auschwitz, when as a 15-year-old boy he witnessed three senior rabbis reluctantly place their God on trial, and found Him guilty. The play itself, of course, deals with a lot of heavy issues – leaving aside the theology for now, it still deals with some horrific stuff. The characters indicting God have suffered the anti-Semitic-motivated murder and gang rape of loved ones, and the ending of the play is chilling. That said, the play is also surprisingly humorous in parts, albeit in a very cynical way (for example, on page 70, as the characters are preparing for the mock trial: "But someone is missing."/"Who is that? The defendant? He's used to it.").

Wiesel covers the weighty theological and philosophical arguments with commendable even-handedness; he has no atheistic or religious agenda. If anything, his message – as affirmed by Robert McAfee Brown and Matthew Fox in their Introduction and Afterword respectively – is a humanist one. Whilst a simplistic summary of the play would be: 'Why does God let bad things happen to good people?', a more nuanced summary would be the one identified by Brown and Fox: that if we cannot get justice from God, we must ensure we strive for it ourselves. God, perhaps, cannot be excused his culpability – and The Trial of God ends agreeably open-ended about this – but if faith cannot mollify us in dark times we must seek a more intelligent and independent response to the struggles and evils of our world. It is a mature and life-affirming message in a play about the bleakest of topics. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Mar 20, 2017 |
Elie Wiesel as a 12 year old at Auschwitz witnessed three renowned Rabbi's hold a 'trial of God'. They found God guilty, guilty for the crimes committed on the Jews in the holocaust, guilty for allowing his chosen people to suffer (inhumanely), and for allowing his creation to commit these atrocities - sometimes even in His name.

I've previously read Night (autobiographical of his time in the camp) and Twilight (a novel about a post-Holocaust survivor). Elie is a fantastic writer who cuts down to the bone on what is real about the horrors of things such as this.

The Trial of God is done as a play, and set during the pogroms, rather than during the Holocaust. It's set on the holiday of Purim. It's a terrific play that cuts into how can God allow things like suffering, especially to his chosen people, as well as how can he sit back and allow people to kill, rape, pillage, destroy in his name. In many ways its more a retrospect of ourselves than just of God. The characters are not so much putting God on trial, but themselves, and at the end of the play, though the trial of God continues, the trial of Men ends. ( )
  BenKline | Jan 21, 2017 |
There have been a number of seemingly audacious trials of God that have taken place, beginning with the book of Job and sustained by the problem of theodicy through the present day. Wiesel's Trial of God, inspired by a similar event he witnessed in the Holocaust, is set in the aftermath of a pogrom in Ukraine in the 1600s. The only Jewish father left in the village of Shamgorod asks a band of traveling actors to stage a trial to justify what God allowed to happen.

Berish struggles with the unbreakable silence of God, and resists the suggestion that tragedy cannot be understood from the limited perspective of humanity: "I want the truth to be told. Whose truth? Mine! But if mine is not His as well, then He's worse than I thought. Then it would mean that he He gave us the taste, the passion of truth without telling us that this truth is not true!" Berish believes in God fervently, if only so he can have some reason and target for his anger. Otherwise, what is there? The alternative to believing that God has allowed tragedy to happen is that there is no reason for tragedy nor any possibility of salvation from suffering. So his faith and his anger are both steadfast, upholding one another in an odd sense. Faith is shown not to be peace, but an unending struggle with God, thereby leaving the verdict in deliberation, "for the trial will continue - without us." ( )
  the_awesome_opossum | Oct 13, 2010 |
This book is a complex play, surveying many of the theological arguments questioning God's existence in the face of catastrophic human suffering - set in 1649, it describes a Purim play occurring in a Jewish community recently decimated by a pogrom, although it is loosely based on real-life events which happened in the concentration camps. I got an enormous amount out of this, and found it much more readable than most of his other works (with the exception, possibly, of the iconic 'Night'). A must-read if you're interested in how Jewish theology has struggled with suffering in the wake of the Holocaust. ( )
  pokarekareana | Sep 2, 2010 |
Gezerot tah? ve-tat, 1648-1649--Drama.
  icm | Oct 3, 2008 |
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