Providence

By Paul Eidelberg

Jews and Christian believe, and without denying free will, that all that occurs in this world — both good and bad — is somehow providential and ultimately intended for our benefit. This belief poses an intellectual challenge, especially in view of all the bloodshed and suffering now going on in the world. We are compelled to think about or speculate on how that which we deem bad serves the good. Well, only the good Lord, by virtue of His Infinite Intelligence, can really answer this agonizing question. This kind of question goes back at least to Job, and the best we mortals can do is offer partial and no doubt inadequate answers.

So, with this qualification in mind, I will mention only one case that has deeply concerned me: “How does the election of Barack Obama, which I (and many others) deem bad serve the good?”

I will consider only one good consquence of his election. The fact that Mr. Obama declared early on that America is not a Christian nation, and the fact that he demoted Judaism in his Inaugural Address, have triggered a flood of new books on America’s Christian and Judaic foundations. I have even incorprated much of this material in my latest book on American Exceptionalism. I look at these new books as a providential sign for both America and Israel. Hence, even though we are concerned (and should be) about the shortcomings of those at the helm in America and Israel, this prompts us to think about what these two greatest of nations stand for, what makes them Exceptional, and what must be done to preserve their singular heritage.

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