Kinah 6-Is It Sophistry?

Jul 14th, 2013 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer
She has fallen to the depths and there she remains.

My eyes await Zachariah Ben Berekhia’s prophecy,

hoping for the miraculous wonders of Gilgal.

My tear stained face is marred by the mire of Greek sophistry.

He acted first and later regretted, calling others to tears,

as He Himself exclaimed, “I cry for them!”

Strepsiades, in the Greek play, was eager to escape the payment of his debts. He was told that the Sophists, led by Socrates, had a good school and a bad one, and that through the bad one, injustice could be made to masquerade as justice. So he went expectantly to the school, and prayed to be made perfect in the logic that could cheat.

He was old and dull witted, and could not learn, and his son of quicker wit became the pupil in his stead. The son learned only too well the lesson of the wicked logic. He proved before long to the luckless father that it is the duty of a son to beat his parents and to despoil them. So the play ends with Strepsiades disillusioned and repentant.

The wicked logic must be abjured; the good one marks the path of happiness and peace.

I have faith with Aristophanes that it is so. Yet even as of old, the rival Logics can be heard contending in the law courts of today, and the seeker after peace and happiness is still bewildered by the din.

Is there a part of us, the one that suffered Greek sophistry, that wonders whether all the explanations for our suffering is just another form of sophistry? Surely, if we believe that God calls others to cry, and if God exclaims, “I cry for them,” and regrets the devastating destruction, we are not wrong to wonder about the logic that explains our suffering!

This, is part of what we lament in this Kinah: we are confused. Even with all the explanations for the destruction of Jerusalem, how are we to understand the logic is God is weeping with us and for us?

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