Dr. ——
New York, N.Y.

Blessing and Greeting:

I am in receipt of your two recent letters.

With reference to the other topic of our correspondence, namely my suggestion that one’s protestations against G‑d are in themselves proof of belief in the existence of G‑d—perhaps I did not make myself clear, in that it is not the negation which I consider to be proof, so much as the manner in which it is expressed. For when one declares his atheism once and for all, affirming that henceforth he has no place for G‑d in his thoughts, lexicon and daily life, then the matter is settled and closed. However, when one asserts that G‑d does not exist, yet at the same time on seeing an injustice in the world experiences pain and promptly demands, “Where is G‑d?” his harping on the same theme again and again is proof that deep in his heart he believes in G‑d—which is precisely why he feels so hurt and outraged. More importantly still, not only does he believe in a Supernatural Being in general, but also in One who has all the qualities that Jews attribute to Him, among them that He takes an interest in human affairs, although “If thou be righteous, what givest thou Him,” etc. Furthermore, He is a G‑d who intervenes in the daily life of each and every individual, even to the extent of listening to prayer. And prayer, as the Jew conceives of it, serves the function neither of tranquilizer nor any other means of emotional relief likely to meet with the approval of a psychiatrist. Every such deception is contrary to the spirit of all religions, particularly our Torah, which is called Torat Emet [the Torah of truth]. The daily Amidah includes the prayer for “wisdom, understanding and knowledge,” from the One “who bestows the gracious gift of knowledge,” just as it includes the prayer for healing from the One “who heals the sick of His people Israel”—in the plain sense of these words. Of course, I do not need much convincing that our prayers include profound meanings and esoteric allusions in the realm of Kabbalah, etc., but that should not obscure the fact that first and foremost our prayers are the direct expression of our dependence upon G‑d for the satisfaction of our elementary needs, “bread to eat and raiment to wear.”

I am, of course, aware of the objections raised to the above, some of them mentioned in your recent article, and in earlier pieces. Specifically it is asked, how is it possible for a Being who is incorporeal, formless, unchanging, etc., to be swayed by prayers for rain in a time of drought, or by other such requests? But the fact that the human intellect cannot comprehend something proves nothing more than that: the intellect is limited, and we were already told long ago that “He is incomprehensible to those who comprehend by the senses.” There is no need, therefore, to harp upon a problem with which Jews and Gentiles have been grappling from time immemorial, and which continues to challenge us today. I am certain that it is not because of this bothersome question that the unbeliever lost his faith, but to the contrary: having lost his faith, he seeks to appease his conscience by cooking up this problem.

With regard to my attitude toward Jewish boys attending college, I need only adduce your own reasoning in support of my position. You illustrate your point by saying that when a person contracts a contagious disease, there must be someone ready to take the risk of trying to heal him, rather than leaving him entirely to his fate. I will use this same analogy in my answer to you. Indeed, as is customary among Jews, I will answer your question with a question of my own: Have you ever met a mother who tried to persuade her son to choose for his career the field of infectious diseases, ruling out everything else, when he himself wished to choose some other means of parnassah, one that would not be quite so fraught with danger? To make my point even stronger, what would you think of a mother who, pressing her son to pursue that dangerous career, insists upon his getting started right away, by having him mix and come into daily contact with people who have already come down with various infectious diseases, on the assumption that he will somehow stumble upon the measures necessary to protect himself from infection, and in this way develop into a specialist in the field, one able to bring relief and cure to the unfortunate sufferer? I believe that in such a case no mother would fail to realize that whereas the danger is certain and immediate, the chances of her son becoming a specialist are, at best, years away. The analogy is obvious.

With blessing,