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85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Trial of Faith
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...
Published on May 30, 2001 by Jason A. Beyer

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3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
Unfortunately the title alone precludes me from ever hoping that we'll do the play at our community theater. Still, it's a good read. I'd like to see it performed.
Published 3 months ago by ROBERT R LARSON JR


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85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Trial of Faith, May 30, 2001
By 
Jason A. Beyer (Ottawa, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Judgment at Night, December 31, 2005
This review is from: The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) (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. Finally the trial must be abandoned in order for the men to defend themselves, and the play ends, questions unanswered, no verdict given.

The ending may seem like a disappointment to some readers, but it is the only one that is realistic. As Mendel (the minstrel who acts as head judge) puts it, "The verdict will be announced by someone else, at a later stage. For the trial will continue - without us." For how can humanity cast judgment upon God, upon themselves, when they don't have all the answers? As Wiesel once said, "I do not have any answers, but I have some very good questions." The most important thing is that questions are raised, even when the may go unanswered. It is not for us to explain away and answer the desperate plight of the Jewish people, but it is for us to ask and question and to make sure that what has happened is never forgotten.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and Insightful, July 22, 2004
By 
Matthew Fryar (Fayetteville, Arkansas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Who should be on trial?, April 26, 2010
This review is from: The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) (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. But so too for those who could not maintain faith when they felt abandoned by God. And as one of the judges in this trial notes, this play is one that will be replayed throughout time - and it is up to each group of players to come up with their own verdict.

In sum, a very thoughtful play.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, November 13, 2006
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This review is from: The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) (Paperback)
This is a disturbing book that tells a disturbing story. Since other reviewers have done a great job providing a synopsis of the book I will go right to the matter of what I think of it. In many ways I was dissapointed. I would have much rather that Wiesel wrote about the trial that he witnessed in Auschwitz rather than placing it in a Ukrainian villege. However, I think he tried and for some reason could not do it. My personal opinion is that the original trial was too painful. So, the play seems to have been inspired by actual events but goes off in another direction entirely. Or does it? I have trouble deciding.

There are many layers to this play - just like the four levels introduced by Bachya ben Asher for the interpretation of scripture: peshat, or "plain meaning"; derash, or "rabbinic aggadah"; derekh hassekhel, or "philosophical"; and sod, or "kabbalistic." The discerning, or knowledgable, reader will find all those levels present in this work. Wiesel is never an easy writer to read or to understand, and this play is no different.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the Trial of God, April 19, 2011
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This review is from: The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) (Paperback)
This book is very thought provoking. May not be suitable for children other than HS level because of its sophistication. The more one knows about the Bible, the better one will relate to the arguments used. But it is not necessary to be a master of the subject. Traditional believers may have a problem with the ideas presented.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very illuminating, September 14, 2011
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This review is from: The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) (Paperback)
Quite a story.

It is a very illuminating play that puts god on trial for all his actions in the Bible.

I agree with the verdict.....GUILTY.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great tale that Elie Wiesel does so well, October 19, 2013
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I can not fathom the depths for which one who has experienced the Holocaust must question his faith. But this book, as in the setting of the Sun, anticipates a new day. Elie Wiesel has experienced much and done great justice to humankind for his many stories that highlight in great depth the human condition. Yet, in this book, a trial of G-d is used to bring justice for events passed. Elie does this so well. And if we look ahead then we must consider that Berish may yet be killed. It is in future events that we may hold hope. "Sam" can be set in the Ukraine. Just as well "Samuel" may yet have voice, "...hope without memory is like memory without hope."
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5.0 out of 5 stars The space between the words..., June 29, 2014
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All of Elie Wiesel's writings are worth a few read through.

Wiesel has a beautiful way with words that allow the reader to put themselves and their experiences into anything he writes. This then leads to many personal lessons being ingrained in every text for each person, and also adds many layers of complexity to his writings. This text especially has so much more to give, when you look a little closer.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, May 24, 2014
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This review is from: The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) (Paperback)
Unfortunately the title alone precludes me from ever hoping that we'll do the play at our community theater. Still, it's a good read. I'd like to see it performed.
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The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod)
The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod) by Elie Wiesel (Paperback - November 14, 1995)
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