Monthly Archives: June 2011

David Hartman Part II – Landes on Hartman and the Mutual Responses

I was surprised that no one commented on David Hartman Part I – here. I expected people to come back over the weekend after reading the review. If anyone is interested, the post New Wedding Simplicity went viral and got over 35 facebook posts, without being cross-posted on another blog or JID. It got more hits than a major cross-post. It now gets as many regular hits as half-shabbos. So expect some simple weddings in 2012.
I assume that everyone has read the tikkun articles by now. Go to David Hartman Part I for the links. So now after reading everyone can help me think this through.Let me know the value and innovation of what Hartman said in 1986, so I can evaluate what is new for 2011.

Short version
Landes declares that “My problem with Hartman is that his lovers model is so absolute in and so defined in structure that it ultimately idealizes the divine –human encounter from a frozen embrace.” There is more out there that you are rejecting.
Hartman responds: Look at everything that I am solving. Jews are too magical, too miraculous, too other-worldly, and too irrational- they think God will intervene at any point. They are therefore manic-depressive. They are more Nahmanides than Maimonides. My Living Covenant model solves everything. I have not rejected anything, I just solved everything.

Long Version
Landes on Hartman’s Living Covenant

Landes is in favor of Hartman’s creating a halakhah that accepts some some aspects of modernity such as autonomous moral spirit, human adequacy, commitment to the ethical, universalistic world view, pluralism, and a this worldly focus.

Landes frames the opposition as Satmar who demonized halakhah into a sharp weapon of hate, Rav Kook who spiritualized it into a mystic rite, and Yeshayahu Leibowitz- objectified it into a servant’s blind obedience.

Rav Soloveitchik is indeed the hero who saw the problem was not truth or conflicting truths but the problem that religion as irrelevant in the modern age.

Now a soft critique – Hartman finds Soloveitchik as anti-heroic and self-defeat and in contradiction to a philosophy of victory.

Hartman is correct that morality needs to be national community
And Hartman understands the importance of God as creator who transcends world, and revealer of the law as immanent. Hartman correctly emphasizes creator, God role in history, and Torah.

For Landes worship – tefilah is about submission, dependency, and inadequacy [Sounds like Schleiermacher via Berkovits]

Soft critique – Instead Hartman wants prayer as the intimacy of two lovers & Hartman emphasizes communal liturgy, and fixed times for prayer. Landes complains that Hartman’s version of prayer is a monologue and he does not have the Hirschian elements (Landes would not like Maimonides, Albo, or even other Jewish thinkers like Rav Soloveitchik on prayer.

Landes like that Hartman views the return under Ezra, bait sheni, and the Ten martyrs as showing love for Torah

Hartman’s typology:
Exodus- unilateral divine power and then human responsibility
Sinai — as mutuality through Torah study

Hartman says that Zionism demands this-
Landes’ big critiques-
1] Hartman defines God in a single way and thereby eliminates God’s complex personality His autonomy, and His adequacy.
2] Hartman has an atheistic quality in which we have sole responsibility to make world better- not enough covenantal partner.
3] No criteria for which modern values to accept or critiques.

Hartman Responds (by restating his basic views)
I don’t have a problem with suffering and defeat- just don’t expect God to sort it all out.
I want the God of Maimonides who does not intervene to clean up the problems of life. We live based on our passionate love for God and Torah.
Most in the community are Nachmanideans, in which God is above nature and history and can intervene at any time with miracles and redemption. [AB- so if you want a rational this world Judaism they why all this relationship model and all this covenant talk?- Rather give me a Maimonidean religion.]

Hartman claims that there is religious language of king/subject, master/servant, but I want to develop husband/wife and teacher/student

Yes, Judaism has submission but he wanted to present what would be if there was more human control.

He is not championing modern autonomy but autonomy to grown like in a relationship and in love – autonomy to apply revelation in relationship. He does not want secular humanism but the humanism from reading Torah with self-dignity.

Kierkegaard ‘s suspension of the ethical is not covenantal, not dignity, not victory minded. Suspension of the ethical – numbs moral integrity and destroys a natural sense of fairness. [ab- Rabbis Amital, Wurzburger, and Jonathan sacks said same thing without all this emotional drama ]

Hartman says that Zionism means to create responsible halakhah. [AB- but didn’t Rabbis Herzog, Unterman, Goren said that already and did not need the discussion of relationship or God as a lover?]

Hartman is against anything mystical or Hasidic as Non-covenantal , pantheistic and theocentric Religious consciousness is not a covenantal moment. Mizvot don’t relate to the mystical they are this worldly. [AB- I would have definitely checked out and rejected this in 1986.]
Following Rav Soloveitchik, Halakhic practice cannot be the carrier of religious emotion rather Torah study should be primary.

Hartman correctly notes that Landes would also be against Rav Soloveitchik’s view of prayer as found in essays like Redemption, Prayer, Talmud Torah. Hartman has nothing against petitionary prayer just prayer that is magical, and other-worldly redemptive and takes away our responsibility for working in the world. Not what God can do for us – but an affirmation of our Sinai commitment He thinks that Landes misreads him if he see a limit on God in his thought, rather he is concern about responsible motives of the one praying

Hartman is in favor of self-sacrifice to keep mizvot, to be shomer Shabbat even if economic loss, to preach Torah to a congregation that does not want to hear. But not for reward in the world to come nor as something forced that one is resentful for doing. One puts on tefillin is love not submission.

Hartman states: God actions do not depend on how I write books but on His infinite wisdom.
Furthermore, Buber and Halevi for whom Judaism is event centered are manic –depressive, since events end.

Landes responds
“My problem with Hartman is that his Lovers model is so absolute in and so defined in structure that it ultimately idealizes the divine –human encounter from a frozen embrace.” He is exclusive in his model. Many other models out there.

Landes is deeply committed to defend prayer as based on typology of dependence like in the Rabbi Saul Berman introduction to the RCA siddur – we learn to pray from different moments of the Avot. Therefore, there are many functions to prayer.

In addition the Lovers model is not a constant. What If one lover is on a self-destructive course then the other one needs to step in to help- it is not always equality.

Using Berkovits terminology, Landes states that hestair panim is temporary not permanent condition of life. [Hartman does not even speak that language of hestair panim]

So why do I need Hartman’s Living Covenant?
Do I need relationship and therapeutic language not to be magical and other worldly?
And did his theology published right before the first Intifada give insight into making a living Zionism?

YCT Graduation Speech-Where is the Promised Land?

Here is Rabbi Linzer’s YCT graduation speech to the newly minted rabbis arguing that we do not know what and where the promised land is anymore. We live in an age of unstable reality because of Enlightenment and Emancipation, because of modernity, because of the Holocaust, because of post-modernism. The speech argues that we cannot hide and assume that the basic assumptions are still true. Not accepting all these changes is to be considered as running back into a nostalgia for the past. Who are they criticizing as running away?

According to the speech, there is a need to deal with Biblical criticism and the Holocaust. For the latter, you can tell everyone to read Kol Dodi Dofek, Yitz Greenberg, and Eliezer Berkovits but what are they expecting for Biblical criticism? Are they telling graduates to embrace it or just to spend an afternoon reading Mordechai Breuer? An if the goal is to open afresh: Why be Jewish? What answers do they expect?
He said “did we once again say that halakha will answer all religious questions?” Where are the new answers going to come from? How are they expecting the young graduates to grapple with these topics? Read Newsweek and blogs? Are these the topics that they should bring up with their congregations?

And what does any of this have to do with the quest of the actual graduates for social justice, simplicity, dairy weddings, and AJWS trips to third world countries?

Now, it is relatively easy to construct a perfect system, with Torah and mitzvot, with God in the center, as long as one is in the desert.

Since then, we have been encamped in another stable reality – in a pre-Modernity, galut Judaism. When change came this time, when our reality was shaken – were we ready to move forward? When Modernity and the haskalah presented compelling alternate views of the world, when they posited epistemological assumptions and value-systems that were at odds with those of tradition – did we rise to the challenge or did we build our walls higher? When the Holocaust destroyed a third of our people and raised the most profound questions about God as a God of history – did we begin to think theologically or did we once again say that halakha will answer all religious questions? When post-modernism raised questions about any and all truth-claims, and when feminism raised profound questions about power, equality, and morality – did we also struggle with these, or did we continue to live in an imagined, romantic past?

For many the response at this time was obvious. Judaism had lost all relevance, all claims to truth, all claims to morality. The answer was to leave – כתינוק הבורח מבית הספר. And for many others, the only solution was to pretend as if nothing had happened. To shift from the nice stable reality that they had become accustomed to over all these years, was unthinkable. The solution was to remain firmly encamped in the desert. Only a few understood that we had entered a new parsha, that we needed to move, but that we had to discover how to move – על פי ה’ יסעו- how to move forward with the aron at the center. While this new parsha will undoubtedly mean struggles, challenges, and risks, the alternative is unthinkable – to remain encamped in the desert, to relegate ourselves to irrelevance.

But you also know that to do just this is to keep the Torah from moving forward. You know that to truly face the challenges of today, you must be prepared to take on questions of the relevance of Torah Judaism, questions of faith and Biblical criticism, questions of God and the Holocaust, questions of the legitimacy of the State of Israel, questions of the morality of halakha.

You know that perhaps the most pressing question today is not how to get to the Promised Land, but what and where is the Promised Land? Not in the geographic sense, but in the spiritual, religious sense. What is the purpose of being Jewish? What does God want from us? What is our role in the world? You know that to not address these questions is another type of תינוק הבורח, another way of running away from the demands of the Torah, a Torah that must be brought into our world. You know that this is your responsibility, as you know become our rabbis, our religious leaders. You are the ones that will, that must, lead our people forward, to grapple with these challenges openly and honestly, to find their way out of the desert. Read Full Version Here.

Rav Shagar Z”l of Yeshivat Siah Yitzhak used to speak of the lack of clear direction in the post-modern world. We need to do teshuvah- to return- but to where? Rav Shagar’s solution was to look into the self, Neo-Hasidism, and its fragmented perceptions. I am not sure it is the same here.

Discussion on Synthesis and Modern Orthodoxy continued in later post here.

David Hartman Part I

I have just read David Hartman’s new book
David Hartman with Charlie Buckholtz, The God Who Hates Lies: Confronting and Rethinking Jewish Tradition (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2011).

I am not sure what to make of it since I have never found his published books very interesting. So it is difficult for me to figure out what is new here.

Hartman’s major book A Living Covenant (1985) is 26 years old this year. Many people love it. I have never known what to do with it. I first encountered the book when it was published, I was still enveloped in the thought of Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Aharon Lichtenstein. More than that, I was interested in Polish Hasidut – Izbitz, Reb Zadok, Gur, as well as spirituality in general. I did not see how the book related to any of that.

Over the years, I have taught the writings of Art Green, Arnie EIsen, Eliott Dorff, as well as Rav Aharon, Rav Dessler, and Rav Aharon Kotler. But I have never taught A Living Covenant. I have taught Hartman’s Torah and Philosophic Quest (1976), as an excellent example of a Torah UMadda use of Maimonides. Nevertheless, I never found a way to include his later works.

So what we are going to do is have a public discussion like we did with the new Arthur Green book. I will go back to A Living Covenant in order to be able to evaluate the new book. Those of you submit relevant long comments will have then turned into posts.
Part I –General Intro
Part II- Landes on Hartman’s A Living Covenant, Hartman response, maybe some other 25 year old reviews. I want to understand Hartman’s cental book before commenting on the new one.
Part III Charlie Buckholtz, who co-authored the new book, will answer a few interview questions about the new book.
Part IV- I will attempt to offer a few comments on the new book.

I am not interested in an ad homonym discussion nor am I interested in labeling him Orthodox or not. I am interested in what he has to say and what does it contribute. In order to do that we will start with the book review written by Daniel Landes in Tikkun magazine in the very first year of the journal in 1986, followed by Hartman’s response and then Landes’s response.

I choose this starting place because a liberal review is not starting with Rav Soloveitchik’s halakhah and more conservative Orthodox review would not accept Hartman’s thought. But Landes is an ideal starting point as a Rav Soloveitchik student who is a follower of Rabbis Eliezer Berkovits and Yitz Greenberg and who likes covenant language. Landes earlier this year has shown his commitment to Berkovits over Arthur Green and Neo-Hasidic models.

Here are the three articles. Go Read them carefully and then come back to comment. I will not post comments that do not look like they at least read the reviews in depth.
I also will not post comments by people who parachute in with jingles that are not informed by books or reviews. If you wish to publicly argue for or against Hartman, then get reading.

When you click on them the URL will appear in the navigation bar.You may have to double click on the URL in the navigation bar and then reload in order to get the pdf to download.
If the link does not work, then you can quickly find them in a Google search.
Daniel Landes on David Hartman: A Vision of Finitude

Human Autonomy and Divine Providence: Hartman on Human Autonomy: A Response to Landes’ Review

Landes Responds to Hartman.
The later two articles get down to the issues. SO don’t just read the first article.

David Hartman recounts in all of his works how he left Lakewood to discover a wider world, which he did when he was connected to Rav Soloveitchik but he felt there were more issues to deal with. His vision of himself is as Yeshiva bakhur and he is remembered by many as an enthusiastic pulpit rabbi dancing for his love of Torah. Even three years ago, on the shabbos before Shavuot, I heard his exhort everyone he saw to understand that Shavuot was not just lectures but our Torah study that shows our love and commitment to the joy and responsibility of Sinai and the giving of the Torah.

He discovered the wider world in his 30’s during the 1960s. He discovered pop-psych books like Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving which contrasts mature and immature love, and the relationship of parent-child compared to spouses. From also rejected authoritarian approaches and considered fix law as running away from freedom. I am observing a similar phenomena now with guys who were all learning and beis medrash in their 20’s during the 1990s. They were no way associated with the liberal parts of the community. Bu now that they have pulpits- they have been avidly reading as autodidacts everything relevant to the real life of the pulpit including psychology, Evangelical Christianity, and sociology. Now they are seeking to combine their new American horizons with their beis medrash vision.

Hartman’s ideal that the study of Talmud should be the locus for Jewish identity and that all modern Jews should have beis medrash style study has caught on everywhere, The idea that one should find modern Jewish thought in a debate of Maimonides and Nahmanides or another classical text has now replaced lectures on Jewish History or peoplehood.

His beis medrash had direct break off creating Shapells/Darché Noam, then Hamivtar. And his approach of traditional study with modern questions was the inspiration of everything from Beit Morasha, Elul, Pardes, Hadar, Shalem, and Yakar.

Hartman is involved in a recurring recapitulation of wanted to study his love- Gemara and then asking modern questions and then discussing his frustrations in his Lakewood past, his YU past, with the Israeli rabbinate, or in the Gemara itself. From my limited perspective, he keeps promising integration with the modern world, and I keep hearing his frustrations. Yet I do not hear solutions for curriculum, halakhah, theology, or actual integration.

He is asking secular questions and then looking for the answers in the Gemara. That is why you cannot ask where he fits into the spectrum or gamut of Jewish thought because he is asking secular questions and returning to the Talmud. Lakewood to Modern Issues and then he returns to the Talmud. What he is not doing is reading the options of modern Jewish thought or modern Jewish thinkers and then situating himself between several of them. His assigned his classroom to read Locke and then turns to the Talmud to ask what is the political thought of the Talmud?

When Hartman left to Israel in 1971 at age 40 with his family after 15 years in a major pulpit, there was a post-Six Day War euphoria that we will build our ideal Jewish reality and restore Judaism as a living religion. Many of the other American rabbis who moved in those years had a similar utopian liberal vision. But what does he mean here in America?

In the meantime, while I wait for people to read the Landes- Hartman debate of 1986, here is a review of the new book from the Jewish Journal. I only clipped the general parts- I will return to issues germane to the new book itself after the interview with the co-author.

Two adolescent encounters with two important teachers shaped the person I have become and formed the core of my scholarly and personal values. One was with David Hartman, then a young rabbi. I had just given what I thought was an imaginative d’var Torah at a Yeshiva University Young Leadership Seminar. Self-impressed with my seeming erudition, I quoted original sources, Biblical and Rabbinic—even Maimonides commentary on the prohibitions of an Israelite King acquiring too many horses or marrying too many wives. Hartman approached me and asked: “Do you believe what you said and did you say what you believed? Or did you merely want to appear impressive and not rile up your audience?” I internalized his question and have asked it again and again whenever I speak and whenever I write.

Ironically, Hartman preferred to be seen as a religious thinker, not as an institution builder.

If you have not read the books then go download the pdf’s – and come back after shabbos. If have read the prior books and have thoughts to add then please comments.

Jews Entering a Church? Rabbi Riskin Answers

[Posted May 21, 2011 on Ohr Torah Stone Website].
Notice the blanket acceptance of Evangelicals and the permission to participate in a Church service if it is for educational purposes.

Am I allowed to attend my friend’s wedding in a church? Are Jews allowed to enter churches at all?

Evangelical churches do not have icons or statues and it is certainly permissible to enter Evangelical churches. Catholic and most Protestant churches do have icons as well as paintings and sculptures. If you enter the church in order to appreciate the art with an eye towards understanding Christianity and the differences between Judaism and Christianity so that you can hold your own in discussions with Christians, then it is permissible. Participating in a church religious service is forbidden unless it is for learning purposes or unless it would be a desecration of God’s name if you don’t attend, as in the case of Chief Rabbi Sack’s attendance at Prince William’s wedding.

Four Pop Culture Artifacts

Here are a number of things on Orthodoxy and pop culture that I have collected in the last few months.

The first is a local Orthodox synagogue that is promoting “a healthy Jewish lifestyle.” The president of the congregation is going on a diet and “asking congregants to make a donation to the synagogue for every pound lost.”

But beyond his “immediate goal to lose weight and bring in extra finances,” he said, what has been achieved is that “a number of people have been inspired to make changes in their own lifestyles and their family’s lifestyle.” He said this is his “most noble goal: that other people get inspired by this.”

He also periodically sponsored a “healthy table” at the synagogue’s kiddush, where people can discuss any issue while nibbling on healthy food.

With the coming of spring, he said, he is organizing fitness walks with congregants.
“We are talking about not only helping the body, but the spirit as well,”
“Weight loss is not only an American obsession; it’s also a mitzva to take care of your body.”
Read the Full Version Here

Second, there was a local fundraiser for Maalah – the religious film school in Jerusalem. The one running it perceptively noted that to be Orthodox and making films is not the American model of Orthodoxy.

“the Maale offers a vision not found in the American Orthodox community.”
“It broadens the possibilities that exist for professional development and creativity for Orthodox young people,” he said. “It shows that there are ways to fulfill one’s creative urge that go perhaps beyond the box of what many Orthodox people think are the possibilities.”
Read the Rest Here

Third, there is an apologetic website for Orthodox Judaism that first paints nasty stereotypes about Orthodox Jews and then using humor tells you they are not true. There is a curious tension there of still being bothered by those horrible stereotypes, which even most non-religious Jews and non-Jews don’t think are true. The site has a conversion from Conservative to Orthodox orientation and is supported by Maayim Bialek as a poster child for Orthodoxy. But notice the nature of her Orthodoxy that does not observe second day Rosh Hashanah but still thinks she needs to tell people that Orthodoxy is not anti-science.

[I]n the forthcoming episode for which Bialik was filmed, “How do I convey to people that the science that I’ve studied fits in with the Jewish beliefs that I hold dear?”

Bialik said that her desire to wear skirts rather than pants has mostly meshed with the socially-challenged character she plays on “The Big Bang Theory.”

“There was an episode where the character had to wear a casual outfit and the producers said, ‘You’re going to be wearing a sweat suit.’ They allowed me to wear a long shirt over it.

“I don’t have enough power to walk away from the job. Did I get off for the first day of Rosh HaShanah? Yes. The second day? No.”

After her character drunkenly kissed her “non-boyfriend” boyfriend, she received an e-mail from a fan: “I thought Amy was shomer negiah — that she didn’t touch men.”
Replied Bialik: “I thought so too until I got the script.”
Read the Rest Here

Finally, before Passover as I was eating my pre-holiday last chometz meal of pizza and read the free magazines given out in the pizza place. I found a magazine for Orthodox youth put out by the OU called Ignite. What caught my eye was that Rabbi Steven Burg was the only dvar Torah in the issue that was entirely dedicated to how to have fun with pop-culture: laser tag, hiking, karate lessons, karaoke, water-skiing.
But the dvar Torah was truly memorable. It was on the verse “You shall be holy” and the interpretation of Nachmanides.

The Ramban tells us there that this means to elevate ourselves in that which is permitted. It’s all too easy to teach teens to avoid everything but that doesn’t prepare then for life. Rather, NCSY empowers teens by providing them with the skills to discern the kodesh from the chol, the holy from the mundane, and where possible, to elevate the mundane to new spiritual levels.

The dvar Torah stated that according to Nachmanides we have to be holy in all aspects of our lives and embrace the world of popular culture. Not to avoid the secular world but to choose the good and wherever possible make the secular holy. Yet, we have to make sure to take the good and avoid the bad. What made this memorable was that Nachmanides’ own comment was even if you keep the Torah you can still be a glutton with the Torah’s permission, there one needs to sanctify oneself even with the permitted, being puritan with food, sex, and engagement with the world. Here we have the new theologies of “Eyn od Milvado” – everything can be sanctified connected back to sources that said the opposite.

Atheist Delusions by David Bentley Hart won 2011 Michael Ramsay Prize

For those who are new to this blog, especially if you showed up because of the Riskin post then please read the rules for comments- and follow them. That post received the most nasty or inane comments of anything posted since I started. If you parachute in with a phoney email and a comment that did not require reading the post, it will most likely not get posted.

I have lots of good posts ready to post but little time to post them so this may either be a light blogging week or not, depending on my pre-yom tov schedule. Here is a book award a major prize last week.

Last week, the 2011 Michael Ramsay Prize was awarded to Atheist Delusions by David Bentley Hart.

Atheist Delusions:The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies (Yale, 2009).
The book as a response to religion’s cultural despisers is not my cup of tea but the award as best theology by the Anglican Church will propel Hart into a position as a leading apologist. His work will not be accepted by skeptics but those believers out there who want to know what is considered an intelligent response should definitely read his books. Hart will socially fill a role as a CS Lewis or Chesterton for our age.

David Bentley Hart is Eastern Orthodox, but in his personal statements calls himself “Modern Orthodox;” don’t get confused.

In the book, Hart defends the role of Christianity in transforming the world for the better through the ages, contrary to the assertions of critics who assert the faith has done more harm than good. If the critics see region as a negative force in society, Hart defends the positive role for religion.

Archbishop Rowan Williams stated:
“But what makes it more than just another contribution to controversy is the way he shows how the most treasured principles and values of compassionate humanism are rooted in the detail of Christian doctrine.”
“No one could pretend after reading this that Christian theology was lacking in intellectual and imaginative force or in relevance to the contemporary world.”

There is a truly great Full Summary of the book out there on a blog. It is good enough to serve as spark notes. If you want the main ideas of the book then read it at the blog.

First Things review when it first came out.

Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies
From Amazon review:
To begin with, the book should probably be titled “Atheist Delusions About Ancient History.” This book is not so much a debate with our Fashionable New Atheists
It is more a long, and endlessly fascinating, revisit of Ancient History.

It may not be surprising to learn that there are at least two main narratives commonly provided for “The History of Western Civilization.” Here they are (very compressed):

Narrative #1: The Christian Version. “The world was lost in pagan immorality and darkness; man enslaved man and man dominated woman. Then, with the Birth of Christ, came the Divine Light, and the world was forever transformed. The barbarian, knuckle-dragging rapists of Europe were baptised and brought to Jesus, and the world got much, much better. Even today, there is no other known source of European civilization and we reject it at our peril.”
Narrative #2: The Modernist Version. “We had the Glory of Greece and the Splendor of Rome, but alas a bunch of superstitious people completely replaced the glories of Paganism with the knuckle-dragging ignorance of Blind Faith. The result was the Dark Ages, which only ended when Heroic Forces restored the classics of Greece to a benighted Europe. Then came the Enlightenment, and Democracy, and all manner of good things, once the Europeans cast off the shackles of Faith.” Arthur C. Clarke and many other modern thinkers followed this narrative
While classical atheism has often parried with Christianity on metaphysical grounds, the so-called “New Atheism” has for the most part attacked Christianity on historical grounds: that it was intolerant, anti-intellectual, destroyed classical learning, prevented social and political progress, etc. Hart takes on this widely circulated charges and clearly and decisively rebuts them.

Better than the book is the
The David B. Hart Appreciation Blog with many of his essays.
**Better than the book that won the award are his essays.**
After the Asian Tsunami when both Christian and Jewish clerics competed for the stupidest quote to explain why it occurred, Hart wrote a beautiful piece in the WSJ, which he expanded into an 80 page essay against the current trend to offer explanations for tragedies.
Buber’s essays that in the face of tragedy will care about how humans respond and not the theodicy is usually cited as retold by Rav Soloveitchik or Rabbi Sacks. Hart’s little work on theodicy belongs on the same shelf.

David B. Hart’s “Tremors of Doubt” WSJ

What kind of God would allow a deadly tsunami?

On Nov. 1, 1755, a great earthquake struck offshore of Lisbon. In that city alone, some 60,000 perished, first from the tremors, then from the massive tsunami that arrived half an hour later. Fires consumed much of what remained of the city. The tidal waves spread death along the coasts of Iberia and North Africa.
Voltaire’s “Poëme sur le désastre de Lisbonne” of the following year was an exquisitely savage–though sober–assault upon the theodicies prevalent in his time. For those who would argue that “all is good” and “all is necessary,” that the universe is an elaborately calibrated harmony of pain and pleasure, or that this is the best of all possible worlds, Voltaire’s scorn was boundless: By what calculus of universal good can one reckon the value of “infants crushed upon their mothers’ breasts,” the dying “sad inhabitants of desolate shores,” the whole “fatal chaos of individual miseries”?

In truth, though, confronted by such enormous suffering, Christians have less to fear from the piercing dialectic of the village atheist than they do from the earnestness of certain believers, and from the clouds of cloying incense wafting upward from the open thuribles of their hearts.

When confronted by the sheer savage immensity of worldly suffering–when we see the entire littoral rim of the Indian Ocean strewn with tens of thousands of corpses, a third of them children’s–no Christian is licensed to utter odious banalities about God’s inscrutable counsels or blasphemous suggestions that all this mysteriously serves God’s good ends. We are permitted only to hate death and waste and the imbecile forces of chance that shatter living souls, to believe that creation is in agony in its bonds, to see this world as divided between two kingdoms–knowing all the while that it is only charity that can sustain us against “fate,” and that must do so until the end of days.
Read his full discussion, here and here.