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"G-d suffers?"


Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

6 Cheshvan 5767
Hi. My friend’s professor stated that it is a known fact that Jews believe that G-d suffers for the sins of man. He used Isaiah "he is afflicted by their afflictions" as a proof text. My understanding is that all anthropomorphically worded references re G-d are clearly metaphors. How can G-d suffer? I have always learned that G-d is above all human experiences and while he empathizes with his creation, even accompanies the Jews into the Diaspora, He himself does not suffer? What’s the answer?
Maimonidies in the Guide to the Perplex (and others in many other places) explain that Hashem is beyond our comprehension and we can’t really know him. It is true that the Talmud learns from various places that Hashem is in pain with us yet as you mentioned – this is a metaphoric statement and should not be understood literally.
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