When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Version: Unabridged (Abridged version available here)
Author: Harold S. Kushner
Narrator: Harold S. Kushner
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Judaism
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published In: January 2010
# of Units: 4 CDs
Length: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Tell Your Friends:


As a young theology student, Harold Kushner puzzled over the Book of Job. As a small-town rabbi he counseled other people through pain and grief. But not until he learned that his three-year-old son, Aaron, would die in his early teens of a rare disease did he confront one of life's most difficult questions: Where do we find the resources to cope when tragedy strikes?

"I knew that one day I would write this book," says Rabbi Kushner. "I would write it out of my own need to put into words some of the most important things I have come to believe and know. And I would write it to help other people who might one day find themselves in a similar predicament. I am fundamentally a religious man who has been hurt by life, and I wanted to write a book that could be given to the person who has been hurt by life, and who knows in his heart that if there is justice in the world, he deserved better. . . . If you are such a person, if you want to believe in God's goodness and fairness but find it hard because of the things that have happened to you and to people you care about, and if this book helps you do that, then I will have succeeded in distilling some blessing out of Aaron's pain and tears."

Since its original publication in 1981, When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions. In his new preface to this anniversary edition, Rabbi Kushner relates the heartwarming responses he has received over the last two decades from people who have found inspiration and comfort within these pages.

Reviews (6)

Written by Denise Perez on May 6th, 2015

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Very good book. Seems like the most realistic explanation on this subject.

Superb and Thought Provoking

Written by Brett on May 9th, 2014

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I liked this book so much that I passed it around to friends, started reading more about Rabbi Kushner and have added a few more of his books to my queue. I listened to the abridged version which was fast moving and essentially grabs you from the start until the end. I listened to this CD four times and then asked friends to listen to it as well. I found his personal tragedy to be moving, and his search for meaning to be thought provoking and righteous. Having experienced personal tragedy as well I have a sense of why this book was a best seller and how it can bring sense when things don't make sense. I highly recommend this book to people who are willing to listen with an open mind and an open heart.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Written by Anonymous on January 8th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I was disappointed because the author does not believe God is all-powerful. The author feels that bad things happen to good people because God is not powerful in controlling acts of nature and that He is not in control of a few other things. My belief is that God is all powerful and even though He allows bad things to happen, He is not a bad God. There are just some things that we will never understand until we get to Heaven and receive the ultimate understanding. In the meantime, my feeling is that we should just ask God to grant us with peace in our lives, the ability to accept bad things that happen and of which we cannot do nothing about, and ask God to grant us with the ability to forgive. I didn't order this audio book to get answers to something, I ordered it to simply see what this author had to say on the subject. Again, I was disappointed to find that the author does not feel God is all powerful. I will pray for him.

When Bad Things Happen To Good People

Written by Paul Schott on November 21st, 2005

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Excellent book - well written and well presented by the author. A good perspective on life for those facing challenges or know someone who is.

Ok book

Written by Anonymous from Bryn Athyn, PA on April 21st, 2005

  • Book Rating: 3/5

This was ok. I would not mind listening to it again, if I am bored or something

Trajedy takes so many forms...

Written by Melissa Jones on February 14th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Whether you are trying to deal with a personal tragedy or are trying to figure out why a supreme being would let the Holocaust, September 11, or the tsunami happen, this book is for you. Rabbi Kushner looks at tragedy in a new light. He examines the feelings one experiences when faced with a tremondous loss. But he doesn't gloss over the question of "why did this happen?" He faces it head on and gives an explanation that's so profound it is worth a listen.

Author Details

Author Details

Kushner, Harold S.

"Harold S. Kushner is rabbi laureate of Temple Israel in Natick, Mass., a congregation he served for 24 years. Kushner is best known as the author of ""When Bad Things Happen to Good People,"" an international bestseller published in 1981, translated into 12 languages and named one of the 10 most influential books in recent history by Book of the Month Club members. Kushner's latest book, ""How Good Do We Have to Be?"", is also a bestseller. Other recent books include, ""When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough,"" which won the Christopher Medal, ""When Children Ask About God,"" ""Who Needs God"" and ""To Life!"" -- honored by the National Jewish Book Council.

Rabbi Kushner graduated from Columbia University, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1960 and received his doctoral degree from the seminary in 1972. He has six honorary doctorates and has studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Harvard Divinity School. He has also taught at Clark University and the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary."