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When Bad Things Happen to Good People Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 1983

558 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Rarely does a book come along that tackles a perennially difficult human issue with such clarity and intelligence. Harold Kushner, a Jewish rabbi facing his own child's fatal illness, deftly guides us through the inadequacies of the traditional answers to the problem of evil, then provides a uniquely practical and compassionate answer that has appealed to millions of readers across all religious creeds. Remarkable for its intensely relevant real-life examples and its fluid prose, this book cannot go unread by anyone who has ever been troubled by the question, "Why me?"

From Publishers Weekly

When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this book features Rabbi Kushner's perspective on how people can better deal with evil that enters their lives.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; Reissue edition (February 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380603926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380603923
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (558 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Harold S. Kushner is Rabbi Laureate of Temple Israel in Natick, Massachusetts, where he lives. His books include the huge bestseller When Bad Things Happen To Good People and When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

198 of 202 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Mackenzie on April 8, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Most of us like to think that we are good people. We go to work, pay our taxes, and love our families. But, doing admirable things does not necessarily mean that we are immune to bad things. From a Judeo-Christian perspective, this can be a hard pill to swallow. We want to believe that there’s a reason for everything and that God has our best interests at heart. If you have experienced a tragedy in your life, you have probably wracked your brain trying to come up with a reason. Instead of doing that, I would recommend reading When Bad Things Happen to Good People. This book was a lifesaver for me and many other people I know. It posits that there are certain events in a person’s life that are random and devoid of any divine meaning. Rabbi Harold Kushner is a true wordsmith and each sentence gradually helps in the healing process.

Another book that I like to keep by my side at all times is 21 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy. It may not be as philosophically lofty as Kushner’s book, but it still offers practical tools for attaining some measure of happiness. For instance, one of the chapters deals with complaining and why you should give it up. Some might say that to complain is to be human, but complaining often leads to no valuable change. Even if the object of your complaint can’t be changed, the act of complaining is still irrelevant. I think that is important to realize when tragedy strikes or even when you just don’t feel good about a particular issue.

I, like many people, incurred an unfathomable loss in my family, and I would say that these books have helped me immensely on my road to recovery.
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397 of 419 people found the following review helpful By J. Lizzi on July 7, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In a time when so many people are striving for an explanation of why their lives turn out a certain way, or why things (good or bad) happen to them, the expressions "it's all part of God's plan," "everything happens for the best," or "it just wasn't meant to be," and so on, have became a little tiresome. In "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," Rabbi Harold S. Kushner offers a refreshing point of view that differs from those who think everything occurs on earth because God wants it that way, and at the same time provides a surprising comfort in the fact that events actually can, and do, take place for no reason at all.
I read the original version of this book in the early 80's (several times since), and what struck me was that Rabbi Kushner was able to reconcile a common Judeo-Christian view of God and causality with a perspective of life that holds a place for randomness and happenstance. Yes! Things happen in life that God has nothing to do with, and there is a way to find peace in accepting this. For those who enjoy contemplating and discussing the purpose of life, faith, and good & bad, you MUST read this book . . . then set aside some more time for thought and conversation.
If you've ever experienced the untimely loss of a loved one, or been through any traumatizing life experience, get this book. It is personal, thought-provoking, well-written, and very easy to understand. I am certain you will find comfort.
If you're just simply interested in learing about God and the meaning of things in your life from a wonderful man and a great writer, get this book.
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167 of 180 people found the following review helpful By Chris Peters on December 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I faced incredible loss a few years ago, I was amazed at the insensitive words my so-called friends offered in their "compassion", words that cut me right to the bone of my soul. It seemed that my grief was a burden for many. I painfully watched many of my closest friends distance themselves from me and even resent me for the tragedy and emotion that I had no control over. I questioned my feelings, my thoughts, and even my faith.
This book is a comfort for all people who have been forced to swallow such stupid sentiments in their times of grief and loss. It is an exploration of how we comfort each other in such terrifying times, and the dumb mistakes we make. Most of these sentiments wax on about God, why He created a world in which such pain exists: Is this all part of a greater good, a higher order? Is God testing you, expanding your soul for your own good? Has He taken your loved ones to a better place? This book gets right to the heart of the matter, that people in fact say such things as disguised justification for their own lack of understanding. They say things in defense of God to keep their world in order and the senseless tragedy in your life out of theirs. For example, someone might tell you, "God gave this grief to you as a test, because He loved you so very much, and knew you would become a better person for it," (to which the author replies, "If only I had been a weaker person, my daughter would still be alive.")
And yet, author Harold Kushner weaves this with a deep exploration of God and how He helps us and loves us. This is no cheap excuse for shallow religion. The knowledge Kushner shares has obviously been earned through incredible personal pain.
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