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The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod)

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  747 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
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 to
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 14th 1995 by Schocken (first published 1979)
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Dec 02, 2007 Carly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The ending was absolutely amazing. To use Krysten's word, which I find most fitting to properly describe its amazingness, it was epic. The Trial of God is a play and these characters set up a trial against God, with defendants and prosecutors and they basically debate the merits and drawbacks to faith. It is very possibly the best book I've ever read. And the ending...I can't get over it, it's so great. It's mind boggling.
Sep 23, 2007 Jenna added it
Wow...that's all I have to say. I have been meaning to read more of his work, but I just haven't gotten there yet.
Noel VerDine
Dec 04, 2007 Noel VerDine rated it really liked it
After finishing Jonathan Ames' book Wake Up Sir I wanted to read something very different from the current novel style in vogue. I was scanning my bookshelf and came across this, a play, by Elie Wiesel. I recalled a friend of mine telling me he really liked it, and it gave him a few things to think about. I picked it up and finished it in just one shift at my coffeeshop, as I set it down, finished, a different friend of mine noticed it for the first time even though we were reading at the same ...more
Dec 29, 2007 Joy rated it it was amazing
Based on a real trial against God that a group of Rabbis put on in a concentration camp. I have thought about this book many times since I read it.
Naomi Schmahl
Jan 28, 2008 Naomi Schmahl rated it it was amazing
The best ending...
Oct 11, 2008 Megan rated it it was amazing
A book like this should be required reading. How can I possibly critique such a piece. Simply stated: a work such as this could only come out of a sincere sense of what life is and I don't mean life on Earth alone.
Dec 31, 2008 max rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
Elie Wiesel was a boy at Auschwitz when he watched prisoners convene a traditional Hebrew court to try God of breaking his sacred covenant with the Jews. PBS's "Masterpiece Theater" excellently dramatizes the trial in its movie "God on Trial", which bears strong influence from Wiesel's play.

Wiesel's 1979 original is not set at the concentration camp. The book's introduction documents his struggles to find a suitable setting for his story; he finally settles on the late middle ages, at an inn of
Jan 21, 2010 Scott rated it really liked it
We all ask this question in one form or another and I was always taught that it is a fairly healthy thing to do and to work to understand. Through the interaction of theses characters we learn of our own pursuit of god and truth and jusice and perphaps better understanding the gross injustices of the world and human history.
Apr 17, 2010 Diane rated it really liked it
This play by Elie Wiesel takes place in a Ukrainian village during the early modern period. A group of rabbis decide to put God on trial following a pogrom against their community. The play brings up some very deep, and troubling, issues and explores them in depth. Specifically, how do we understand human suffering in the light of a good God? Wiesel takes his stand with the victims of injustice and cries out on their behalf.
May 30, 2010 Jan rated it liked it
Not so much a play as a dialectic. The denouement was predictable. I liked this, and it made me want to write more serious work than I do, but it isn't Wiesel's best work.
Sep 10, 2010 Molly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, favorites
I finished the play in just a few days because it moves so quickly, and want to read it again and again. It's a story that is profound but accessible and even hours after finishing it I can't seem to pick my jaw up off of the floor. Mind-blowing and awesome.

The Trial of God is a perfect vehicle for a subject beyond weighty, and it is an incredible way to honor and preserve the ideas shared by the Rabbis during the trials they held in concentration camps and ghettos for future generations.
Jan 15, 2011 Michael rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Frank Roberts
Apr 01, 2011 Frank Roberts rated it it was amazing
If man is made in God's image (or vice versa) then to put God on trial is to indict Man. Wiesel's powerful drama invites reflection on mankind's inability to live up to God, or to fashion gods that are truly worthy. Most damning of all, no person is found to stand as God's advocate at the trial, except for Satan himself.

Powerful and provocative.
Nov 03, 2011 Susan rated it liked it
This was a play set during an earlier century in Poland. The scene was of a Jewish massacre by Christians. The author was a survivor of Auschwitz. The play is about a trial of God for abandoning his chosen people. This trial actually happened in Auschwitz and the author is retelling it as a play within a play. It was interesting not only as an unfolding story, but also to see how Jews view Christians who kill in the name of Christ. A similar setting could be during the Crusades where Christians ...more
Oct 10, 2011 Ronda rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing, painful, provoking book to read. The author Elie Wiesel was a 15 year old in Auschwitz. He spent years trying to find a way to capture what happened one evening during his imprisonment when several old Rabbis put God on trial and convicted him. This is a play in which Wiesel set the story in 17th century Poland. It asks the ageless question of where is God in all of this suffering. It is a painful to read as the horrors the characters have experienced unfold. But I also found ...more
Oct 12, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing
In 1945, a teenage Elie Wiesel was a prisoner in Auschwitz with his father. Wiesel claims to have witnessed a trial conducted by three rabbis who charged God with breaking His covenant with the Jewish people. The rabbis found God guilty as charged...then left the barracks to go and pray. None of the rabbis survived the death camp, nor did any of Wiesel's relatives.

Wiesel wrote the play The Trial of God to dramatize the trial he witnessed in Auschwitz. Set in a small medieval village somewhere in
Jan 03, 2012 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loed the format of a screenplay...loved the intellectual nature of how God is perceived. easy and quick read.
Nov 01, 2012 Jen rated it really liked it
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 mu ...more
Jul 14, 2014 Devasri rated it it was amazing
"'The Trial of God'" and the book of Job, and suggested that sometimes the only way to respond to the depths of human suffering is not to argue or justify, but to acknowledge that there are no adequate words."

This was such a book, I wish I was a better writer so I could express myself better.
Nov 16, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
In "The Trial of God," Wiesel returns to the theological questions that drive "Night" and his other books. How can a just God allow such suffering? The survivors of a pogrom and a trio of traveling minstrels looking to perform a Purim play put God on trial. The only problem is that no one is willing to serve as God's defense attorney -- until a stranger steps forward. The stranger puts forth an eloquent defense of God's goodness, but the implications of his words change from comforting to profou ...more
Sep 11, 2014 Sarabeth rated it it was amazing
The Trial of God helps me understand the questions and bitterness that people who witness or experience horrible suffering may feel towards God. This play was based on his experiences during the holocaust.
Helene Dorian
Oct 24, 2014 Helene Dorian rated it really liked it
This is a powerful book by a truly amazing human being. It is easy to understand how one can lose faith in God yet gives you much hope to believe.
due ideuzze buttate lì alla bell'e meglio:

è bello, però... però... non so... mi aspettavo molto di più da un processo nientepopodimeno che a dio. cioè forse me lo aspettavo più nelle mie corde, vale a dire più blasfemo e dissacrante di quanto non sia.
nel leggere ero ansiosa di assistere a questo processo che però non arrivava mai. un'attesa fin troppo lunga, un divagare continuo, come se si cercasse di allontanare il "momento della verità", tanti fatti e discorsi che portano continuamente altrov
Beautiful. Weaves an earnest, ugly ache as old as time and fresh as a sudden wound. Believing God is in charge amidst evil and merciless pain is a scream that echoes from the bottom of our toes until we've cried our eyes red and sobbed our lungs raw. Then we finish with what we started with, a God that knows more than we do who has chosen not to answer our whys but is still in charge. The conviction to hold God accountable, to feel heard, to feel understood, vindicated tries to harmonise with a ...more
Jun 10, 2016 India rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, plays
Wiesel could have done more with the concept (there was a lot of repetition), but it was overall worth the read.
Sonia Argiolas
Apr 02, 2016 Sonia Argiolas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wiesel-elie, teatro
Metà del XVII secolo. È il giorno di Purim e tre attori girovaghi, Mendel, Yanken e Avremel, giungono nella locanda del taverniere Berish, sita in un piccolo villaggio dell’Europa Orientale. I tre non sanno che l’accigliato Berish è l’unico ebreo sopravvissuto, con sua figlia Hannah, a un pogrom avvenuto recentemente. Con lui, anche Maria, la serva cristiana. Nessun altro è rimasto. I tre attori decisi a onorare quel dì di festa, bevono in continuazione ed è palese come non abbiano i soldi per p ...more
Lydia Staggs
Sep 29, 2016 Lydia Staggs rated it it was amazing
Thought provoking play.
Jun 20, 2016 Steve rated it it was ok
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? This play is about a mock trial held in 1649 in Shamgorod, an Eastern European town that has just suffered a pogrom that has killed all the town's Jews except for the innkeeper, Berish, and his daughter Hanna. Berish is the prosecutor and three traveling minstrels serve as the jury while a mysterious stranger, Sam (aka the devil?) serves as God's defense attorney.

The verdict wasn't given and the answer not apparent - maybe it is just anothe
Lois R. Gross
Jul 07, 2016 Lois R. Gross rated it it was amazing
While reading the author's obituaries, last weekend, I stumbled upon the play that I had never read. It is based on an actual "trial of G-d" that occurred during Wiesel's imprisonment in Auschwitz. Wiesel moved the time period the to 17th century in Poland during a series of pogroms. In the small town of Shamgorod, it is Purim, a generally joyous holiday that celebrates the prevention of a massacre of Jews by Queen Esther. Some Purimshpielers (Purim entertainers), stop at the town inn to see if ...more
Aug 06, 2016 Larry rated it really liked it
Play by Elie Wiesel based on an actual experience he witnessed in Auschwitz as a 15 year old boy. Three rabbis decided to indite God for allowing His people to suffer and be killed.
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Eliezer Wiesel was a Romania-born American novelist, political activist, and Holocaust survivor of Hungarian Jewish descent. He was the author of over 40 books, the best known of which is Night, a memoir that describes his experiences during the Holocaust and his imprisonment in several concentration camps.

Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a
More about Elie Wiesel...

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