20.02 Holocaust (pps.11-13)

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There were really two Jobs at Auschwitz: the one who belatedly accepted the advice of Job’s wife and turned his back on God, and the other who kept his faith to the end, who affirmed it at the very doors of the gas chambers, who was able to walk to his death defiantly singing his “Ani Maamin-I Believe.” If there were those whose faith was broken in the death camp, there were others who never wavered. . . . Those who rejected did so in authentic rebellion; those who affirmed and testified to the very end did so in authentic faith.

The victims, who were stripped of everything of which they could possibly be stripped, found themselves in the hammer-lock of gross evil incarnate, in an environment itself stripped to its rawest core. In this crucible environment, in numbers disproportionate to the greater Jewish population, the victims usually chose definitively to take their stand on one of two sides of the religious issue -i.e., they turned either to a complete religious dedication or to religious rejection. Yet experience teaches us that conclusions reached in such an environment are to be taken very seriously.

Jewish theology, as developed through that time, was simply insufficiently powerful, or at the least insufficiently articulated and communicated, to hold the allegiance of many sincere devotees. The fault is neither with Judaism nor with the hallowed victims; it probably lies with the development and explication of the theology.

In response to the classic challenges of theodicy regarding the Holocaust, in particular, a traditionalist might counter by challenging the validity of the questioner’s scale of magnitude, and by inquiring as to the questioner’s suggested remedy. How many deaths by atrocity is too many? Three million? Three hundred thousand? Thirty thousand? Three thousand? Three hundred? Thirty? Three? One? What would the theologically troubled have prescribed for the Holocaust-ten plagues, a bolt of lightning, a column of Divine fire?

These responses are only of limited utility and far from an

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42 Berkovits, Faith After the Holocaust, p. 69.


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