The Trial of God (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod)A Play by Elie WieselTranslated by Marion WieselIntroduction by Robert McAfee BrownAfterword by Matthew Fox Where is God when innocent human beings suffer? This drama lays bare the most vexing questions confronting the moral imagination. Set in a Ukranian village in the year 1649, this haunting play takes place in the aftermath of a pogrom. Only two Jews, Berish the innkeeper and his daughter Hannah, have survived the brutal Cossack raids. When three itinerant actors arrive in town to perform a Purim play, Berish demands that they stage a mock trial of God instead, indicting Him for His silence in the face of evil. Berish, a latter-day Job, is ready to take on the role of prosecutor. But who will defend God? A mysterious stranger named Sam, who seems oddly familiar to everyone present, shows up just in time to volunteer. The idea for this play came from an event that Elie Wiesel witnessed as a boy in Auschwitz: "Three rabbis--all erudite and pious men--decided one evening to indict God for allowing His children to be massacred. I remember: I was there, and I felt like crying. But there nobody cried." Inspired and challenged by this play, Christian theologians Robert McAfee Brown and Matthew Fox, in a new Introduction and Afterword, join Elie Wiesel in the search for faith in a world where God is silent.
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US Kirkus Review »
Inside "the kingdom of night" - the concentration camp - Wiesel actually witnessed a trial which put God up as the accused, charged with being either accepting of or blind to the murder of HIS chosen people. Now he's made it into a dramatic parable, set in 1649 in a Russian village that's just undergone a pogrom. Only two Jews remain, an innkeeper and his violated daughter. When roving minstrels arrive by accident at the devastated town and offer to put on a Purim play, the innkeeper suggests they hold a trial instead. "I want to understand why He is giving the killers the strength and the victims the tears and the shame of helplessness. . . . Listen: either He is responsible or He is not. If He is, let's judge Him; if He is not, let Him stop judging us." A stranger, clearly Satan, arrives to serve as defense attorney. The argument he puts forward is essentially that the kingdom of death is God's to add to as he wishes; His miracle is to allow even one Jew to survive as testimony - and one always does survive. The kernel, then, is arresting; but the dialogue is stir and lifeless, and two of the three acts seem long prologues and little else. Finding a shape for the ultimate seriousness that infuses his thought remains Wiesel's thorn; his success here again is only intermittent. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Elie Wiesel
ELIE WIESEL is the author of more than fifty books, both fiction and nonfiction. He is a recipient of the United States Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the French Legion of Honor's Grand-Croix, an honorary knighthood of the British Empire and, in 1986, the Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1976, he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University.