New Article: Greenberg, R. Areleh Roth’s Pristine Faith

Greenberg, Gershon. “R. Areleh Roth’s Pristine Faith: Through Holocaust to Redemption.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 14.1 (2015): 72-88.





Areleh Roth responded to the Holocaust by labouring to have Jews actualize pristine faith. As the slaughter in Europe mended the sinful universe prior to the advent of the Messiah, the living were enjoined to bring to bear the faith which was experienced by Abraham and which the people of Israel inherited over the ages. This meant struggling against the forces of Amalek who clouded the perception of God’s presence amid the tragedy. Under divine aegis, Amalek brought suffering to induce repentance, he tested the people in order to activate free will, and clouded the perception of God’s presence amid catastrophe. The struggle centred on annulling one’s personality entirely, enabling God to enter the heart so completely as to totally replace the ego. This was the experience of pristine faith, and with it one related to God, through Abraham, and gained the strength to endure the tragedy. Even more, one’s soul could join the ascent of those sparks which were dispersed upon the cosmic catastrophe (described by Isaac Luria) and thereby contribute to, and participate in, the rise of Israel to the spiritual redemption of the Sabbath before Adam’s sin. Roth’s response to the catastrophe was not of theological exposition (for example, why the pious suffered) but of practical means to survive and thrive on the level of spirit.