The Individual In Judaism And Hinduism

2140 words - 9 pages

Through the Bhagavad Gita and the Book of Job we see the similar ways that different religions affirm that the individual can’t have the same level of knowledge as the divine. We also, however, see that while Hinduism offers an explanation for this knowledge disparity, and offers a path of empowerment that allows the individual to strive for the knowledge level of the divine, Judaism simply deems that we are insignificant beings when compared to God, and that we can’t ever achieve nearly the same amount of knowledge as God.
The Book of Job tells those who consider the bible to be a holy text, namely Jewish and Christian people, the story of Job. His story tells us that we, as individual human beings, are lesser beings than God and can’t know as much as God. At the end of the story, after hearing God mention the greatness of his creations, Job finally breaks and admits that he was wrong to question God, as Job, an individual human being, has a limited amount of knowledge compared to God. While God is pleased with this response from the previously dubious Job, he is not happy with Zophar, Eliphaz, and Bildad for claiming to know why God acted in the manner in which he did while they were consoling Job. God relents however, and forgives them after Job prays for them. God is so delighted with Job for withstanding all of the punishments Satan had put forth upon him that he rewarded Job with two times more of everything he had lost, including his children.
This ending to the frankly entertaining Book of Job provides a fantastic insight into how the Jewish, and to a certain extent Christian, religion views the individual. It basically tells us that we are insignificant beings compared to God and that any attempt at comprehension of how God works is sacrilege. This viewpoint doesn’t really seem to value the individual experience of one’s life; rather it seems to undermine it in favor of theodicy. This affirms the traditional Jewish theodicy that whatever you have to say about your suffering is irrelevant when compared to the tradition of suffering.
The Book of Job is used as a reminder to individuals that at the end of the day, they are just small cogs in a larger machine, the world, which is created and controlled by God. While this may sound fairly negative, it does have certain positive aspects. Believing that we, as individuals, are insignificant to God can be very effective in consoling people during times of tragedy. If people believe that everything that happens is part of a grander scheme orchestrated by the divine himself, God, then they are more willing to accept whatever trauma has befallen them. This also, however, can be dangerous as it isn’t good for people to believe that their own individual experience is insignificant in the face of society’s, as it causes people to undervalue the beauty of the gift of life.
This is the basic belief of Elie Wiesel, a Jewish professor/Auschwitz survivor. To Wiesel, the individual experience in Judaism...

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