Talmud this Shabbat: Whatever Happened to the God of the Exodus Story? Rabbi Yitz Greenberg in Dialogue with Elizabeth Strout

Whatever happened to the God that we will read about this coming Shabbat? The God that intervenes in history, smites the Egyptians with plagues, defeats the Pharaoh, liberates the slaves, splits the sea? That God is nowhere to be seen and has not been since the Exodus story itself.

If we take the Exodus story seriously, when we read it in the Torah, and when we experience it at our seder tables, one haunting question is hard to avoid: whatever happened to that God and God’s vaunted strong hand and outstretched arm?

One move, certainly understandable after the Shoah, is that of Rabbi Richard Rubinstein: God is dead. Rabbi Rubinstein’s answer that God (certainly the God of the Exodus story) is dead is a bit brusque but hard to deny. It also doesn’t leave us with much to work with. Are there any other moves that could also be honest and leave us with something to work with as we try to figure out how to live our best lives?

On Shabbat we will encounter something of a dialogue, the theology of somebody we have never before studied, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg. His thinking is a helpful contrast to that of Elizabeth Strout’s gorgeous, luminous story “Light” in Olive, Again. Please read the 21-page story before class.

Where is God in a world without God? See you on Shabbat!