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The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) Paperback – November 14, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 177 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; Reprint edition (November 14, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805210539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805210538
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“From the abyss of the death camps he has come as a messenger to mankind—not with a message of hate and revenge, but with one of brotherhood and atonement.”
—From the Citation for the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize
 
“Wiesel uses words to craft literary monuments, works that stand as acts of remembrance and as meditations on the nature of remembrance itself.”
San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Unquestionably, Wiesel is one of the most admirable, indeed indispensable, human beings now writing.”
Washington Post
 
“Not since Albert Camus has there been such an eloquent spokesman for man.”
The New York Review of Books

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

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Customer Reviews

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This book is very thought provoking.
nancyb
Elie Wiesel has experienced much and done great justice to humankind for his many stories that highlight in great depth the human condition.
Samuel R. Lammie
I would encourage anyone to read this - it's a great purchase!
Matthew Fryar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Jason A. Beyer on May 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
While interred in Auschwitz, Elie Wiesel witnessed a trial. While such things are not unusual, this trial was. It was unusual because of the defendant: God. God was tried for violating the covenant by turning his back in silence on the Jewish people in their greatest hour of need. God was tried in absentia, without anyone present being willing to take on the role of God's defense attorney. God was declared guilty, after which the "court" prayed. Contradiction? Perhaps. But this incident, which served as the inspiration for *The Trial of God*, is part of the long Jewish tradition of arguing with God. While Job is God's most famous interlocuter, we cannot forget the dispute the founder of the Jewish people, Abraham, had with God over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The trial of God is really a trial of faith; this is why the "court" prayed. They are torn between their devotion to God and their complete disappointment in God's silence. This struggle of faith is the story of *The Trial of God*, in which it is the least faithful of all, Satan, that comes to God's defense. Wiesel is fond of retelling a story about two Holocaust survivors, one a rabbi, who meet after liberation. The survivor asks the rabbi how, after all that has happened, he can continue to believe in God. The rabbi retorts by asking how, after all that has happened, can the other *not* believe in God. Wiesel has often echoed this paradox in his own sentiments. This is the paradox which *the Trial of God* presents us; it is a story of doubting trust and trusting doubt which, as Wiesel suggests, might be reconcilable only in protest. Perhaps *The Trial of God* is Wiesel's act of faith; perhaps it is an act of condemnation. I suspect that for Wiesel it is both. Anyone who pays careful attention to this work will be highly rewarded by it, not because of the answers it gives (for it gives none), but (in good Wieselian style) for the questions it raises.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By RCM VINE VOICE on December 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
As with all of Elie Wiesel's work, the central premise is to explore the question of Jews and their suffering throughout history. "The Trial of God" is an interesting departure from his better-known works, in that it is a drama, a play staged during the Jewish holiday of Purim. Based on events that Wiesel witnessed while in Auschwitz, "The Trial of God" accuses the Creator of the Universe of being guilty of neglect to his chosen people. And even though the trial takes place in the seventeenth century, the modern world is very much alive in the facts and accusations.

The trial takes place in 1649, in a Ukrainian village that has been decimated by a pogrom; only two Jews remain, Berish the innkeeper, and his silenced daughter Hanna. Three traveling minstrels arrive and upset Berish. They want to stage a Purim play for all the Jews in the village, without knowing about the devastation of the recent raids. Berish allows them to enact a play as long as he can choose the subject matter; he wishes for a trial to condemn God over what has happened to the Jews and he will serve as prosecutor. The minstrels accept, but can find no one to play the defense attorney for God, until a stranger (who seems to be known by all) arrives to defend God and his actions (or inaction).

Much of the course of the play is devoted to setting up the trial (which doesn't begin until Act Three). Until that time, the reader learns much about the history of Berish and what he witnessed, as well as what makes him so angry towards God. When the stranger arrives to defend God, he does not allow Berish to use the dead as proof or witnesses for one must only think of the living. Tension mounts throughout the course of the play, thanks to news that a mob is gathering once again to kill the remaining Jews.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Fryar on July 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
As in all his works, Elie Wiesel shares with his readers in "The Trial of God" the simultaneous pain and hope that he feels when he thinks about the role that God has played in his life. This play--and it's exactly that, a play--is full of banter between the characters, humor, and even sexual innuendo, but it also addresses a very serious issue... one man's conflict with the God that he feels has betrayed him. I am a Christian, but I still truly enjoyed reading this and thinking about my personal relationship with this same God. I would encourage anyone to read this - it's a great purchase!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alan D. Friedman on April 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
Even to an agnostic, the idea of putting God on trial seems mad. Perhaps only a survivor of the Holocaust, namely the author and the unnamed Auschwitz inmates that served as the play's inspiration, have the right to call their Creator to judgement.

And so they do. Judges and prosecutors readily step forward, but a defender for God is absent until a shadowy figure volunteers. What follows is intense and thought provoking.

The accusations are fierce, but the defense deftly, but uneasily rebuts by either placing the blame on humans alone, by asserting that the now-dead victims' feelings cannot be brought to court, and lastly, that the mind of God cannot be probed, that man's goal is to love and obey him no matter what.

The last defense is much like what Job encounters. But like Job, the victims of this play are denied any knowledge of why God does or does not do anything - Job is simply stunned into silence by God asserting that his power, knowledge and majesty are infinitely beyond that of Job and therefore he has no right to question God. Any justification for his suffering is never answered.

Nor does this play answer why the Jews are persecuted. The trial ends without a verdict, but characteristically the surviving Jews refuse to abandon their faith even to save their lives - even though they wanted to hold their God to judgment.

While answering no questions, some very good ones are asked in this play. The weak link of Christian theology is always of reconciling the cruelty of this world, with the idea of a perfect-loving and powerful God in whose image we are suppposed to be created in.

The trial shines a favorable light on those who upheld their faith despite persecution, despite their demands for heavenly justice.
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