Joy depicts the crisis of faith that overcomes Rabbi Banish of Komarov, who, having buried his four sons and two daughters. Only through the mercy of the God he has denied, manifest in a radiant vision of the dead Rebecca, his beloved youngest daughter, is the rabbi’s belief restored. The sense of wonder and the touch of heavenly joy that linger after the vision dissolves convince Rabbi Banish of the folly of judging God’s actions by human standards. The rabbi has interpreted the apparent tragedy of his children’s premature deaths as evidence of God’s alienation, forgetting that God is by definition inscrutable. That God’s purpose transcends man’s ability to comprehend it is made clear to the expiring rabbi when the family dead approach his deathbed with arms outstretched to enfold him among them. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven to which a loving God has called them; and their deaths have evidenced not God’s wrath but his grace.
A version of Rabbi Banish’s deathbed revelation appears to Rabbi Nechemia in Something Is There. At twenty-seven he is already racked by the doubts that torment Rabbi Banish. So shaken is his belief in God that he deserts his rabbinical post in provincial Bechev for the flesh-posts of Warsaw. Although the prostitutes, unclean food, and shady business dealings which he witnesses there hold no attraction for the erstwhile rabbi, they intensify his revulsion from the world created by God and therefore his alienation from God himself. Unlike Rabbi Bainish, whose intimations of immortality and consequent rededication to God precede his radiant deathbed vision, Rabbi Nechemia cannot allay his doubts until the very moment of death, when a light he never knew was there flickered in hid brain. While his dying words—something is there—resolve his crisis of faith, they come too late to affect the spiritual renewal attained by Rabbi Banish. No explicit promise of immortality, let along of salvation, attends Rabbi Nechemia’s vision. Perhaps grace is accorded Rabbi Banish because his doubt is triggered by devastating personal losses, and withheld from Rabbi Nechemia because his despair is the bitter fruit of idle speculation about the unknown. Whatever the reason, relatively few of Singer’s characters are granted at the moment of death the transcendent vision of unity between man and God that appears to Rabbi Banish in Joy. For the fortunate few, release from time into eternity is affected by a divine visitation which obliterates distinctions between past and present, living and dead.
These kinds of characters are lost in their world because of the seducement of the material world. They doubt their formal faith and gradually give up what they believed. But after they have experienced so much hardship, they realize that they cannot adapt to the life of the outer world so they regress to the former life with formal faith. They realize the importance of God and they begin to think seriously about the relationship between man and God. At last they find their right way of their life.