What Now? Episode 11 podcast transcript

Posted On Jul 18, 2019

The following is a transcription of episode 5 of the podcast What Now?, “On a Scale of One to Ten” with Sarah Wolf, provided for accessibilty for all website visitors. 


Sara Beth Berman: Welcome to What Now?, a podcast from the Jewish Theological Seminary that asks how we respond when it all goes wrong. I’m Sara Beth Berman, your host, and a graduate of the Davidson School at JTS, and I’ve been searching for answers for a long time. Several years ago, my fiancé Rafi, a fifth-year rabbinical student, died after a year of suffering. My desire to engage in Jewish life was shot.

Over the years, I’ve worked hard to figure out how to be myself, all the pieces, broken and repaired in equal parts. I’m still asking the questions though. Specifically, why tragedy? Why do we suffer, and what now? How does our tradition help us tackle this complicated and fundamentally human experience? Tragedy and misfortune strike all of us just about every day. On a scale of one to 10, where one is a bird pooping on your car when you just pull out of the carwash, and 10 is that time I was widowed before my wedding.

So I’m meeting with professors and teachers from my beloved alma mater, JTS. Each professor and each person has had their own struggles. My professors have applied their wisdom and scholarship to finding answers. After years of banging my head against a wall while I whine loudly about tragedy, I’m hoping they can help me out.

In this episode, I sat down with Talmud professor Dr. Sarah Wolf. We spoke about inherited familiar tragedy, and our chat took us from Babylonia to Paris and back again. I’ll let her introduce herself.

Sarah Wolf: Hi, I am Dr. Sarah Wolf. I am the newest member of the JTS faculty. I teach Talmud and rabbinics here. I did my PhD in ancient Judaism in the Religion Department at Northwestern University. And I love teaching here.

SBB: Awesome. Go Wildcats?

SW: Yes! Good job.

SBB: So proud of myself. So, everyone who comes to the podcast, I ask this foundational question, which is on a scale of one to 10, where one is you have a new kitchen but you’re not allowed to use it (that might be a five). And 10 is the Book of Job. I was wondering if you could share some of your experiences or stuff that you’ve studied on the scale that’s a one or a 10.

SW: So I would say my one to two is that for about two months I didn’t have heat in my apartment. I had a space heater, which the super, who’s amazing, very graciously delivered. So that’s pretty frustrating. But the heat is back now, so that’s good.

SBB: What about a 10?

SW: So my 10 is something that I don’t really remember, because it happened when I was quite little, and also sort of before I was born. Which is that my mom suffered pretty intense pregnancy loss. So she was pregnant five times, and I am an only child. So before I was born, she suffered a miscarriage. And she then gave birth to twins who were born very prematurely, at I think 21, 22 weeks and they didn’t make it. And then they sort of figured out that my mom had this medical problem and they were able to do some interventions and so I was born pretty normally. I was two weeks early, which is not a big deal at all. And then my mom got pregnant again, and the fetus, the heart stopped in utero. And then got pregnant again and that baby was born at about 19 weeks and also did not make it.

SBB: So what do you have a memory of?

SW: So I have obviously no memory of the stuff that happened before I was born, and very, very little of what happened when I was a little kid. I mean, I vaguely remember my mom being on bed rest. I remember that I was hanging out with her when she was on bed rest and smooshed her glasses, which were in the bed. But I don’t remember the aftermath, and I know that it was terrible and I know that my mom was depressed and that it affected my parents’ marriage and ultimately they split up.

But I just don’t have clear memories of that period. But I know how much it affected my mom’s relationship with me. I know how much it affected me in terms of the divorce. And I definitely have a sense of, there are these sort of mythical siblings who, I mean, the babies who were born, they got names and I know what their names were and sometimes my mom talks about them. She lights a yahrzeit candle for them and says Kaddish for them, even though I think she knows that that’s not officially halakhicly the policy, it’s very important to her to do that. So they feel very present in a lot of ways, even though they weren’t really part of my life.

SBB: Yeah. That stuff is hard to share, and your reflection upon it as someone who wasn’t really directly involved in the way that an adult would be directly involved and remember and have those feelings of relationship and relationship lost. It’s really interesting for you to be able to step back and say, this is something that was truly terrible and is part of my life, but in a way that the connection is sort of like a dotted line in terms of your memory.

So when you talk about all of this loss in your family, how do you relate to it as an adult now?

SW: It definitely makes me think differently about if I were to be pregnant, how I would experience that and how I would feel about it and how, first of all, I don’t take for granted the ability to do that and bring a fetus to term. And I’m a little worried that I’ll be a really neurotic pregnant person. And I also think about just what it would have been like for me to grow up with siblings. It’s not something that I thought about a lot as a kid. I was an only child and that was just my life and it was fine. But as an only child of divorced parents, I had a super-intense relationship with each of my parents because we were the only two people in the house at a time.

And I actually remember, as part of my being a literature major in college, I got to go to Paris and actually learn French in college and I was in the introductory French class. And they were introducing us to the different characters who were going to be in our little Intro French video. And they were telling us about one character—there were two characters, a French character and an American character.

And the American character’s name was Robert and he was a fils unique, he’s an only child and “ses parents sont divorcés,” his parents are divorced. I’m like, wow, this is so exciting, just like me! And then it says, “And therefore, il a des complexes,” that’s why he has so many complexes. And it was weirdly gratifying, you know! If the Intro French video thinks that that’s going to screw you up, I have carte blanche, you know? Any way in which I’m crazy is totally justified.

SBB: That’s amazing.

SW: Yeah. So I think about that sometimes. It was also amazing that “He has complexes” was one of the first sentences that I learned how to say in French. Very telling. [laughter]

SBB: That is an incredible story. Okay, can we talk a little bit about your very personal story, your family’s personal story about pregnancy loss and connect it to some of the work that you do with the Talmud?

SW: Yeah. So one thing that I think is interesting to think about is this idea of loss that you have maybe a vague memory of, maybe that you have no memory of at all, but that is sort of part of how you know you developed. And that you know that you would be in a really different place right now if that loss that you know happened, maybe to your ancestors, hadn’t occurred.

And I think the big one for the rabbinic period, which is the time period that I study, is the destruction of the Temple. Which for most of the Rabbis who appear and are quoted in the Mishnah and the Talmud, that’s not something that they themselves personally experienced, but it’s sort of there at the heart of what they’re thinking about.

And it’s interesting actually, in the same way that I feel like my siblings sort of remained presences in my life, even though I never knew them and have no memory of them, the idea of sacrifice really stays very present for the Rabbis. It’s not like they’re no longer thinking about it or they’re just totally thinking about it as something that happened in the past and they’ve completely moved beyond. I mean, there’s lots of legal material that they’re still producing about sacrifices and how they’re supposed to happen and how they’re supposed to work. They’re really thinking about it. It’s very there and present and real for them.

And at the same time, they’re also trying to figure out what their ritual lives are going to look like in a Temple-less world. So they’re producing lots of theoretical legal material about sacrifices because that’s what they do now is produce lots of theoretical legal material, not actually go give sacrifices, right? So they’re still hanging out with those concepts, but they have to really shift to relating with them in a new way.

SBB: So all of this theoretical work in the Talmud, what are the Rabbis doing with it? Like what happens?

SW: What happens. So there are all sorts of practices that the Rabbis start to conceptualize in this sacrificial paradigm, including prayer, including giving charity, giving tzedakah, fasting. And one of these practices or experiences, I guess, that the rabbis start to see in this paradigm is suffering, which they call yisurin. The root of yisurin appears in biblical literature and it has a range of meanings, including something like “teach,” something like “chastise,” and maybe something like “punish.” But starting in tannaitic literature, the earliest stratum of rabbinic literature, it shifts to actually meaning something more like suffering. It starts appearing in the form yisurin.

And it means suffering, but it still holds on to that meaning of chastising / punishment because it’s suffering that is conceived of as coming from God. So there are these early rabbinic texts that talk about yisurin as expiating, as achieving atonement, in the same way—same effect that sacrifices are supposed to have. They’re supposed to, you sinned and what the sacrifice does is it cleanses you. So yisurin, this experience of suffering, is supposed to do that too.

SBB: Okay, so this is like if I did something bad, then I would take a goat to the Temple and they would sacrifice it, and then I would be good. But instead of that, there’s yisurin that happens.

SW: Yes, exactly.

SBB: I don’t have a goat, so go on.

SW: Yeah, so you might not have a goat, but fortunately, there are other things you can do. You don’t have a goat, so there’s also Yom Kippur. Fortunately, we’ve all got that. And the Rabbis set up this whole framework. And I can even tell you a little short piece of tannaitic midrash that lays this out very clearly, that yisurin and sacrifices are doing the same thing.

SBB: So I haven’t had any tannaitic midrash yet today, so that would be great.

SW: Great. Okay, so this is from the Mekhilta de’Rabbi Yishmael. It says,

“Rabbi Nehemia says: precious are yisurin, for just as sacrifices appease, so too do yisurin appease. What does it say about sacrifices? ‘And it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.’ What does it say about yisurin? ‘And they shall atone for their iniquity.’ And not only that, but yisurin actually appease more than sacrifices do. Because sacrifices are only with money (or goats!). But yisurin are with the body.”

So very clearly laying out, there are these two biblical verses that they are putting in conversation with each other, using this word ratzah, to please or to appease, and saying that both yisurin and sacrifices achieve this, that they’re doing this work of reconciling between you and God, making sure that everything is okay. But actually, they’re going a step further and they’re saying, you know what, it’s really fine that you don’t have a goat because it’s actually better for you to suffer. A goat is just a material object, right? Your money, whatever. But your body—and it seems like they’re conceiving of yisurin as something maybe like sickness, something that you’re experiencing physically, that’s you. That’s your personhood. And so actually, in some way, yisurin do this even better.

SBB: With apologies to any beloved goats out there. I mean, it’s pretty amazing that these yisurin fill that void, the sacrificial void, as it were. So what are these annoyances and sufferings and trials that my body is going through in place of the sacrifice of a goat?

SW: Good question. So what I just quoted from was tannaitic literature. And you know, it doesn’t say for sure what they are, but it does seem like it is some kind of bad physical experience. In the Babylonian Talmud, yisurin are portrayed in a few different ways. So there are passages in the Babylonian Talmud that also portray yisurin as some kind of really bad physical affliction. But one thing that the Babylonian Talmud starts to pick up on is the role of the person who is experiencing yisurin as accepting them or not accepting them.

SBB: Accepting the yisurin upon themselves?

SW: Yeah. So there is a passage that says that everyone that God loves, God afflicts with yisurin. And then the passage says, well wait a second. Is that true even if the person doesn’t accept them out of love? And then it says, no, actually. It’s really different. If you don’t accept them, it actually doesn’t work. And if he accepts them, or she, or they, get the reward of these yisurin. But if they don’t accept them, then they don’t get the reward.

SBB: I hear that, and I also think of the many platitudes that people told me when my fiancé died. Like it was his time, and God wanted him—which, like, I can’t. And he was in a better place, and I’m so strong, and I’m getting through it, and I’m so amazing. Like I don’t care, all of those things, right? Because I enjoyed him, that’s why we kept him around. And I didn’t want to sacrifice him. And I’m sure people really love their pet goats, but it’s hard for people that have suffered these sorts of things in their adult consciousness and child consciousness as well, to be like, all right, cool, I suffered, all I had to do was give you one fiancé, and now I’m good in terms of repentance.

So I’m hearing what you’re saying and it’s fascinating, and it’s also frustrating as someone who has experienced traumatic loss to be like, well, all right, some people sacrifice a goat. And I sacrificed a human.

SW: Yeah, well, there are two issues with this idea of everyone that God favors, He afflicts with yisurin. One is what you’re saying. It’s a horrible concept to think that what God does to the people that God loves is make them suffer, and that if you’re suffering all you have to do is remember that God loves you and then everything will be fine and you’ll be rewarded. You’re not the first person to find that totally repellent and deeply troubling.

But there’s actually another issues which I think maybe is even more present for the rabbis, oddly. Which is what if you’re not suffering? What if you’re not experiencing horrible loss? Does that mean God doesn’t love you? Does that mean that your sins, which you’re still doing, are not being atoned for when suddenly you are not having terrible skin disease or losing your loved ones or having foreign armies come and attack your towns? What happens then? So, yeah. There’s problems from both directions.

SBB: Right. There’s a lot of things that you just said. So the first is, remembering, like I’m suffering and God loves me, that was the opposite interpretation that I had. Right? I was like, God obviously hates me, and I don’t really know what I did to deserve it. Because I’m a little saucy, but I’m fairly well-behaved. So it’s just hard. It’s hard to hear that. I don’t like it. I mean, you’re great. But I’m not enjoying this particular line of conversation. Bring me back.

SW: So I’m going to bring you back. But I’m going to do it through the other direction in which the Rabbis have a problem with this model. It’s not clear if they’re really troubled by this idea of a God who punishes the people that God loves. There are scholars—David Kraemer and Yaakov Elman have written about this idea that actually later voices in the Talmud do this anti-theodicy thing, where they’re really tired of this idea that there’s a solution to the problem of evil in the world, and we can come up with a theologically coherent explanation.  

And that the Talmud is like, no, forget it, bad things just happen and it’s horrible and we can’t explain it. So that may be, but I think also the Rabbis are at least if not more troubled by the fact that what about people who aren’t suffering so much? If yisurin are this really powerful way to know that everything is cool between you and God, which ultimately both you in your worry that God hates you, and the Rabbis in their interpretation of, maybe God really loves me! It’s the same concern. People are worried. They want to know. They want to know that God doesn’t hate them, because that would be sad.

There’s this really amazing passage from the Talmud in which they respond to this concern by basically redefining what yisurin are.

SBB: I’m listening.

SW: So using your scale from one to 10, they say, you know what? Yisurin don’t have to be a nine or a 10. Yisurin can be a one or a two. So they give a few examples of what that might look like. So for example, they say anyone who had a piece of clothing woven for them to wear and it doesn’t fit. And then they say, no, actually, even more than that. If you intended to mix your wine with hot water and it got mixed with cold water. Right, the Rabbis had this whole weird thing where they drink wine concentrate and then they had to dilute it. Anyway, you wanted hot wine, or let’s say, you wanted hot cider and someone gave you a cold can of Coke, or the other way around. It’s a hot day and you really wanted an iced latte, and someone gave you just a nice hot tea.

SBB: That’s rough.

SW: You know, it’s rough! It’s rough. It’s upsetting. You wanted a sensory experience and you got a different sensory experience. Not fun. They say, you know what, even if your shirt is backwards, maybe inside out.

SBB: God loves me because I can’t dress myself?

SW: God loves you because in the middle of the day, you’re at a meeting and you’re like, oh, my seams are showing. That’s not the way this shirt was meant to be worn. Yeah. And then they say, you know what? Even if you reach into your purse to take out three coins, and you only take out two coins, then you have to go back into your purse to take out that third coin that you didn’t get to the first time, that counts as yisurin.

SBB: What if I needed like 10 cents, and I pulled out two dimes.

SW: So they do talk about that, and they actually say that’s not yisurin. If you meant to take out two coins, but you took out three coins, and then you have to put one back, that’s not yisurin. I think probably because the feeling of being like, ooh, I don’t need to spend that extra coin, I’m going to put it back in my pocket, shifts the experience a little bit.

So they’re not just talking about anything that is a different experience from what you expect, but something that is not what you wanted. Something that is in some way disappointing to you or frustrating to you. That counts as yisurin. And then at the end of this passage, they say, well okay, but why all this? Kol kakh lamah? And they say, well, you know, there is this teaching from the school of Rabbi Yishmael, Kol she’avru alav arba’im yom belo yisurin kibbel olamo. “Anyone who has gone 40 days in their life without experiencing yisurin has received their share in the World to Come [preemptively].”

You’ve had it too good for those 40 days, and that’s it. You have used up your heavenly reward here on earth by having 40 days with no suffering, and that’s it for you. So if you can say, aha, but don’t worry! I actually have checked the yisurin box once in this 40-day period, then you can feel secure that your heavenly reward is still waiting for you down the line.

SBB: I’m trying to imagine a situation where I wouldn’t be annoyed by something on a daily basis.

SW: Right! Exactly.

SBB: Cool! World to Come, here we go! I hadn’t heard about this before now. In my experience, no one really needs to be on high alert to be annoyed by something. Do people know about this 40-day thing? Are they concerned? Is this widely taught?

SW: It is not the most well-known Talmudic passage. When I was first working on this in grad school, there was someone who was I think a post-doc in my department who had learned a lot said, oh yeah, I know that passage. Every time I go and take out the wrong key to try to open my office I think about it, and I think oh yes, that’s my yisurin and I feel good about this now.

And I really want to make it a thing, because as troubling as we find the idea that really, really horrible thing that happen to us are some way of being in communication with God because that’s sort of horrifying, there is something I think that’s kind of nice about seeing these small, annoying moments that happen to us all the time as actually some way of God showing that God is still looking out for us. Or some way of feeling secure that things are going to ultimately be okay.

SBB: So trauma, yisurin made me cranky. And then now we’re like in the middle, where there’s the annoying yisurin to remind you that God still loves you. So is there another end of the spectrum, where like God pays my rent for the next several years and I don’t have to think about that again? Or does it have to be like, I can’t find my retainers.

SW: Well, look. In late antiquity in general, people are really into suffering as a marker of religious or spiritual greatness. And that’s kind of how everybody’s thinking about it at the time. There’s lots of Christian martyrs or ascetics going around being like, look, the reason that you can tell that I am a super-holy person is that I haven’t eaten in weeks and my flesh is rotting. So I don’t think that that means that that’s the only way to think about God’s presence in our lives.

And I think it also highlights the fact that even though suffering in late antiquity is sort of a big thing generally, what the Rabbis do with it is really unique and different. The Rabbis are not saying you too should go live in the desert and make yourself horribly physically uncomfortable all the time. Like yeah, there’s fasts here and there, but by and large, they’re not really advocating for that. And instead, they’re saying no, no, no, what you have to do—and this is, I think, super rabbinic—is you just have to have a different frame for how you think about your own life. Right? You just have to take the things that happen to you every day, and once you choose to accept them, meaning once you choose to frame them as suffering and not just, I don’t know, random thing that happened to me that happens to me constantly when I forget where I put my phone for the hundredth time, once you reframe it, then you get to participate in that discourse of “suffering means that I am spiritually awesome.”

SBB: So it’s clear that I’m cranky about this stuff. This is interesting. I’m wondering, for someone who’s less cranky, what can they learn from this teaching?

SW: To step back, one of the things that’s going on in this very rabbinic reframing of the whole category of suffering to say, look, actually we conclude all these other things in this category, is an idea that is powerful for me and that I think about a lot, that the narratives that we tell about our own lives are really important. And that we actually have control over how we frame our own experiences and what they mean to us. And I think it’s incredibly difficult to step out of the mode of saying, objectively this is just what’s happening to me and I can only react to it in this very particular way. To, well, I can tell myself story number one about what’s happening to me. And I can get really mad. Or I can realize that I’m telling myself story number one, and decide to actually tell myself story number 1.2 or story two.

This happens to me all the time. One of my complexes, so to speak, is that I am always convinced that people are mad at me. I’m sure other people who are listening can relate to this, but it’ll be like, okay, someone didn’t respond to my email, and it’s because they’re mad at me. And that’s how I’m now going to think about that relationship, is they didn’t respond to me because they’re mad at me, and what did I do wrong?

And one thing that I have tried to learn how to do is notice when I’m telling myself that story. Realize that it is a story that I’m telling that might or might not be true, and decide oh, I can tell myself a different story. Like, I bet that person’s really busy. And it’s not that they hate me, or the email I sent them, or the paper that I asked them to read a couple of months ago that they just never responded to—not that something like that has happened to me lately.

And that it’s a choice. And I think that in some ways, that’s what the Rabbis are doing here too.

SBB: People are generally very busy, if that helps you in your quest to remember that it’s not that much about hatred for you. At least usually. I actually don’t know that much. This is our first lengthy conversation. But you seem pretty pleasant. And you put up with me being cranky very nicely. So there’s that.

SW: Thanks.

SBB: You’re welcome. Well it’s interesting about writing our own narratives, because I spend a fair amount of time writing, and expressing myself. And I think I express myself in a way that many people do, and also many people do not. I’m in the constant process of editing the book that I wrote about my suffering and also my entire life experience around that. It’s a memoir of traumatic loss and general hilarity, is the working subtitle.

SW: I love it.

SBB: Thank you. So that’s definitely one way to create our own narrative. I can’t tell you that I’m going to go home and find my retainers. Maybe I will. But if I do or if I don’t, I don’t know that I’m going to be able to be like, well that’s because God loves me! And so do the orthodontists. I don’t know that I can get to that place. But it’s aspirational for me to think that the little annoyances are evidence of God’s love, and maybe the large traumas, I don’t necessarily need to think of them as evidence of God having any feelings about me, which is sort of the place that I got to after I used to say all the time that God hates me and wants me to be unhappy. I don’t say that as much anymore, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I’m a tefillah educator, so it’s not a good thing to say all the time.

SW: That’s a great point. I mean, I didn’t think about that, but once you reframe things so that little things are signs of God still cares, then the big things don’t have to mean that. Because what you’re looking for is God showing care to me in some way. And if it’s the little annoying things that are doing that, then it kind of frees up room for the big things not to mean that anymore.

And actually I’m thinking about this meaning of yisurin, the root of yisurin from the Bible as this sort of teaching, chastising thing, kind of almost being in a parent or a teacher role. And you can think about, well, okay, if a parent scolds a child about a little thing, says, hey, you really need to be in bed by this time and if you don’t there are going to be consequences. That’s small, and that’s an act of love. That’s a parent setting boundaries and it’s a way of showing care.

If the parent has something really go wrong and like, behaves in some horrible way to the child, you wouldn’t say that’s a sign of love anymore. You would say, that is now something else. That is now, something has gone deeply awry and love is not in the picture. And the punishment is just outsized at this point, and you kind of just have to feel bad for everybody involved. And I think maybe that’s a helpful way of thinking about this yisurin discourse, too.

SBB: Look at me, teaching my professors. Professor Wolf, it was lovely speaking with you today.

SW: Likewise.

SBB: I learned a lot, and I hope people come out of listening to this thinking about maybe a different way to interpret it when they lose their keys.

SW: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me on the podcast.


SBB: And what now, everybody? So this podcast series may have gone quickly for you, especially if you listen at my preferred chipmunk speed of 2.5 times faster than normal, destroying the beautiful production values. It’s only 11 episodes. This podcast goes to 11. But for me, it was so much more. On a scale of one to 10, where one is the little yisurin, the little indignities of our lives, like when I swipe my subway card and it doesn’t work and I crash into the turnstile and bruise my hip bones, and a four is when I thought I was getting a splinter from a popsicle when it turned out a bee had flown into my mouth and was stinging my tongue. And then there’s 10. Ten is that time when I was widowed before my wedding. And sometimes, that tragedy can feel like a freaking 11 on a scale of one to 10.

If you’ve listened to the whole series, you’ve heard a fair amount of my whining about being widowed before my wedding, now nearly 10 years ago. It will never make sense. It will never be fair. It will never feel like God’s way of being like, hey Sara Beth, I love you and I knew you could handle it. It was a year before I finally answered my friends’ texts and joined a support group of young widows who knew the kind of 10 I was living through. It was five years before I was able to be truly supportive of other widows in a real way. It was a good five years before I got serious about writing my experiences into a book. Eight before I got it all out and onto the page, and nearly 10 before I sent it to my agent. And it was nearly nine years before we started planning, pitching, and recording this podcast.

So here’s what I learned. We suffer because we care. Tiny indignities can give us a chuckle as we think about God being present. And there are counselors who are trained, and other people who are not trained, who will be there for you when the time is right. You may need to write, or rant, or get a nose ring. You may find that railing against God as the Psalmists and the Rabbis of the Talmud once did is the rebellion that makes you feel the most whole. And the next year, you may turn back and start apologizing for the cracks you’ve made in other people’s surfaces. You may find that saving a piece of literature from destruction and elevating it and sharing it with others will restore the holes left in your sense of self by the 10s and the 11s that you’ve witnessed. You may find that sometimes you just want to bang your head against the wall.

Am I better? No. But also yes, in that I move forward holding the weight of memories. I’m more palatable for public consumption than I used to be. I love my future husband Jeffrey who will be my actual husband, God willing and yisurin-stay-away, by the time you listen to this. I have found the one in whom my soul delights, my broken, cracked, beleaguered soul.

I know I’ll still bang my head against the wall every time something reminds me of my suffering. That’s normal. It doesn’t go away. But neither do I. And now, now? I’m more determined than ever to keep going. I’m ready to march, to teach, and call out, in a way I couldn’t before. I hope you are, too.

What Now? was produced by Michal Richardson. Editorial oversight was by Rabbi Tim Bernard. Funding for this series was provided by JTS’s Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies, and suffering is and was provided constantly by the human condition. What Now? was recorded by JTS’s irreplaceable and inquisitive new media staff, Larry Cameola and Brian Hart.

Hit subscribe, give us a review, and help more people find answers to the big questions. Email onlinelearning@jtsa.edu or tweet @JTSvoice if you want to advocate for a second podcast season. This has been your host, Sara Beth Berman, JTS Davidson School class of 2009. It has been real banging my head against the wall with you.