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Overview

The Trial of God (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod)
A Play by Elie Wiesel
Translated by Marion Wiesel
Introduction by Robert McAfee Brown
Afterword by Matthew Fox
 
Where is God when innocent human beings suffer? This drama lays bare the most vexing questions confronting the moral imagination.
 
Set in a Ukranian village in the year 1649, this haunting play takes place in the aftermath of a pogrom. Only two Jews, Berish the innkeeper and his daughter Hannah, have survived the brutal Cossack raids. When three itinerant actors arrive in town to perform a Purim play, Berish demands that they stage a mock trial of God instead, indicting Him for His silence in the face of evil. Berish, a latter-day Job, is ready to take on the role of prosecutor. But who will defend God? A mysterious stranger named Sam, who seems oddly familiar to everyone present, shows up just in time to volunteer.
 
The idea for this play came from an event that Elie Wiesel witnessed as a boy in Auschwitz: “Three rabbis—all erudite and pious men—decided one evening to indict God for allowing His children to be massacred. I remember: I was there, and I felt like crying. But there nobody cried.”
 
Inspired and challenged by this play, Christian theologians Robert McAfee Brown and Matthew Fox, in a new Introduction and Afterword, join Elie Wiesel in the search for faith in a world where God is silent.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805210538
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/31/2000
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 169,652
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.95(h) x 0.52(d)

About the Author

ELIE WIESEL was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The author of more than fifty internationally acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, he was Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and University Professor at Boston University for forty years. Wiesel died in 2016.

Hometown:

New York, New York

Date of Birth:

September 30, 1928

Place of Birth:

Sighet, Romania

Education:

La Sorbonne

Read an Excerpt

As the curtain rises, MENDEL, AVRÉMEL and YANKEL are sitting at a table. MARIA is wiping off the chairs at another. BERISH comes in, running; he is annoyed.
 
BERISH
A glass, Maria. Hanna will get up any minutes, and she’ll be thirsty; and there is no glass in her room. I don’t understand, Maria—do you? I have glasses everywhere, for everybody; except for Hanna!
(He goes to a table to pick up a clean glass)
 
MARIA
You’re running, running, Master. You’re always running. Where to, Master? Where from? Why are you running? (BERISH stops; he is startled) Don’t you see we’ve got customers? Hanna is asleep. Leave her alone. When she gets up, I will be there to take care of her, as I always do. But the customers, Master, have you forgotten them? Do I have to do everything, see everything, be everywhere?
 
BERISH
Be quiet, Maria. Hanna is restless. She’ll get up any minute. She’ll want her milk. Where have you put the clean glasses?
 
MARIA
In my pocket. In my bed . . . Don’t you see I’m busy? Somebody has to clean up the place—right? (YANKEL tries to catch their eyes) You should pay more attention to the customers, Master.
 
BERISH
Don’t tell me what to do. You’re getting on my nerves. The customers are getting on my nerves. The whole world is getting on my nerves.
 
MARIA
Then you better get yourself another trade, Master. Better yet, get yourself another world.
 
BERISH
I’ll get myself another helper if you don’t stop this.
 
YANKEL
Leave her alone, innkeeper. Why don’t you listen to us instead? We’re waiting for you.
 
BERISH
Who are you?
 
YANKEL
His Majesty’s special emissaries . . . Who do you think we are? Don’t you have eyes? We are customers!
 
BERISH
What do you want?
 
YANKEL
Service.
 
BERISH
Service . . .
 
YANKEL
Does the word sound strange to you? We would like to order drinks,
 
BERISH
Drinks . . . (He emerges from his daze) All that people want is—drinks. (He places a bottle and three glasses on their table) One of these days I’m going to close up this place, I promise you that. I’ll sell it or burn it to the ground. And I’ll get out of here.
 
MARIA
Right.
 
BERISH
You don’t believe me? I’m telling you, I’ll go away.
 
MARIA
You’ll go away, you’ll go away. . . . Where would you go?
 
BERISH
Anywhere. To the end of the world.
 
MARIA
No farther?
 
YANKEL
(Laughs)
Bravo, woman! Wouldn’t you like to join us?
 
MARIA
Why—are you going to the end of the world, too?
 
YANKEL
No, we have just come from there,
 
MARIA
(To BERISH)
Where is the end of the world?
 
BERISH
I don’t know. . . . Yes, I do. The end of the world is where you’re not.
 
YANKEL
(To MARIA)
How do you manage to live under one roof with him?
 
MARIA
Mind your own business! He’s my master. If he feels like insulting me, let him!
 
YANKEL
(Mischieviously)
Wouldn’t you like to join us?
 
AVRÉMEL
The end of the world . . . I remember it well. In my village there was a small dusty street. An old witch lived in the last shack. The children were convinced that it was the end of the world.
 
BERISH
The end of the world, the end of the world. In my hometown we were told . . . I forgot what we were told.
 
MARIA
Forget it again, Master. You’ll feel better.
 
AVRÉMEL
The witch and her shack. People would be seen entering it—no one was ever seen leaving it. The children were scared even to look at it—to look at it from far away.
 
MARIA
Can’t you change the subject?
 
YANKEL
What’s wrong with this one?
 
MARIA
Change the subject. And change the inn too. You’re annoying us.
 
YANKEL
But we’ve said nothing. We would like to talk to you, innkeeper.
 
BERISH
I’ve got nothing to tell you.
 
YANKEL
How do you know?
 
AVRÉMEL
What if we asked you not to tell us anything but to listen to us while we tell you something?
 
BERISH
I’m not interested.
 
YANKEL
What do you mean, not interested? There must be something that interests you.
 
BERISH
Right! One thing: to see you get out.
 
YANKEL
All right, all right. We’ll leave. Afterwards.
 
BERISH
After what?
 
YANKEL
Have you forgotten that it’s Purim tonight? We must celebrate—have you forgotten how to celebrate?

Customer Reviews

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The Trial of God 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
pokarekareana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a complex play, surveying many of the theological arguments questioning God's existence in the face of catastrophic human suffering - set in 1649, it describes a Purim play occurring in a Jewish community recently decimated by a pogrom, although it is loosely based on real-life events which happened in the concentration camps. I got an enormous amount out of this, and found it much more readable than most of his other works (with the exception, possibly, of the iconic 'Night'). A must-read if you're interested in how Jewish theology has struggled with suffering in the wake of the Holocaust.
gfreewill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a play that Wiesel has placed back in the year 1640 in the aftermath of a pogrom in Ukraine. There are two Jews left alive in the city, the innkeeper and his daughter, and another three traveling minstrels come into town in time for Purim. It is the tradition to put on a play (so really the book is a play within a play) and they decide to put God on trial for the fact that he has stayed silent in the face of evil. The problem is that no one was to play the part of God¿s lawyer until a stranger comes into town and volunteers for the part.This book is not only a reflection of a real trial that supposedly took place in the death camps of the Holocaust, but also parallels the book of Job in the Hebrew bible. I thought it was really good (but I do also love everything Wiesel writes). I just found out last week that I will be reading this book again with Elie Wiesel as my actual teacher in my class this fall, so if I have some real insight into the book I will let you know. I don¿t want to write too much and give away the ending, which is quite profound.