Elie Wiesel's reconciliation with God | Dov Lipman | The Blogs
On this journey, Wiesel relationship that he had with his father mirrors the relationship he had with God. In the beginning, he sees them both as. In Elie Wiesel's Night, he struggles with his faith in God as his situation worsens. Towards the beginning of the memoir, Wiesel's relationship with God is strong. Elie Wiesel was a young boy, when his life changed drastically. He was born in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now Romania. He was born to Shlomo and Sarah, .
They learned to build on ruins. Family life was re-created. Children were born, friendships struck. They learned to have faith in their surroundings, even in their fellow men and women. Gratitude has replaced bitterness in their hearts. No one is as capable of thankfulness as they are.
Thankful to anyone willing to hear their tales and become their ally in the battle against apathy and forgetfulness. For them every moment is grace. Oh, they do not forgive the killers and their accomplices, nor should they.
Nor should you, Master of the Universe. But they no longer look at every passer-by with suspicion. Nor do they see a dagger in every hand.
Does this mean that the wounds in their soul have healed? They will never heal. As long as a spark of the flames of Auschwitz and Treblinka glows in their memory, so long will my joy be incomplete. What about my faith in you, Master of the Universe? I now realize I never lost it, not even over there, during the darkest hours of my life. Was it because the prayers remained a link to the vanished world of my childhood? But my faith was no longer pure.
How could it be? It was filled with anguish rather than fervor, with perplexity more than piety. In the kingdom of eternal night, on the Days of Awe, which are the Days of Judgment, my traditional prayers were directed to you as well as against you, Master of the Universe. What hurt me more: In my testimony I have written harsh words, burning words about your role in our tragedy.
I would not repeat them today. But I felt them then. I felt them in every cell of my being. Why did you allow if not enable the killer day after day, night after night to torment, kill and annihilate tens of thousands of Jewish children?
Why were they abandoned by your Creation? These thoughts were in no way destined to diminish the guilt of the guilty.
In my childhood I did not expect much from human beings. But I expected everything from you. In which case, there can be no searching for reasons behind the Holocaust, for there are none, as Wiesel discovered.
No God ordered the one to prepare the stake, nor the other to mount it. During the Middle Ages, the Jews, when they chose death, were convinced that by their sacrifice they were glorifying and sanctifying God's name. At Auschwitz, the sacrifices were without point, without faith, without divine inspiration. If the suffering of one human being has any meaning, that of six million has none. Numbers have their own importance; they prove, according to Piotr Rawicz, that God has gone mad.
Each person has his own reactions and accusations. That God is mad is just one. Gavriel, symbolic of those who escaped long enough to warn others, accuses God of actually having helped the executioners: They might have thrown themselves at his feet and tried to win his pity. That is what others would have done, but not they. A pride that came down to them from an earlier age preventing them from bowing down even before God, who was there behind the executioner.
Gregor told him a story: Standing with his head held high before them, he spoke as follows: I have irrefutable proof in my hands. Judge without fear or sorrow or prejudice.
Night: Elie's Changing Feelings Toward His Religion by Elise Melanson on Prezi
Whatever you have to lose has long since been taken away. On the day after the trial, He turned the sentence against his judges and accusers. They, too, were taken off to the slaughter.
And I tell you this: He wanted the Rebbe to tell him God was as cruel as He seemed. The Rebbe danced around answering him, until finally, he burst out: That I have no eyes to see, no ears to hear? That my heart doesn't revolt? That I have no desire to beat my head against the wall and shout like a madman, to give rein to my sorrow and disappointment? Yes, He is guilty. He has become the ally of evil, of death, of murder, but the problem is still not solved.
I ask you a question and dare you answer: He is still stuck. Gavriel had his own answer to a cruel God. Nothing had changed by knowing how cruel God was, because God had always been cruel.
He had lectured to Gregor: The first act of Abraham, the first Jew-his readiness to sacrifice his son-was an accusation against God and his injustice.
After that Moses shattered the tables of the Law, in anger not only with his people but with the God of his people.
The midrash contains a troubling legend along these same lines. Cain says to God: Why did it have to be me? You could have prevented it, but you didn't. All that is left to us of Cain is his curse.
They say, yes, I've suffered, but when has a Jew not suffered? These people still give God another chance to prove he has not abandoned His people.
Elie Wiesel’s reconciliation with God
I have submitted to everything, accepted everything, not with resignation but with love and gratitude. I have accepted punishments, absurdities, slaughters, I have even let pass under silence the death of one million children.
In the shadow of the Holocaust's unbearable mystery, I have strangled the outcry, the anger, the desire to be finished with You and myself once and for all. I have chosen prayer, devotion.
I have tried to transform into song the dagger You have so often plunged into my submissive heart. I did not strike my head against the wall, I did not tear my eyes out so as to see no more, nor my tongue so as to speak no more.
It is easy to die for You, easier than to live with You, for You, in this universe both blessed and cursed, in which malediction, like everything else, bears a link to You and also to myself It's all over, I tell You.
I cannot go on. If this time again You desert Your people, if this time again You permit the slaughterer to murder Your children and besmirch their allegiance to the covenant, if this time You let Your promise become mockery, then know, O Master of all that breathes, know that you know longer deserve Your people's love and their passion to sanctify You, to justify You toward and against all, toward and against Yourself; if this time again the survivors are massacred and their deaths held up to ridicule, know that I shall resign my chair and all my functions as guide, I shall fall to the ground, my forehead covered with ashes, and I shall weep as I have never wept in my life, and before dying I shall shout as no victim has ever shouted, and know that each of my shouts will tarnish your glory, and each of my gestures will negate You and will negate me as You have negated me, as You will have negated Your servants in their dazzling and ephemeral truth.
He can accept God's past cruelties only if they are to be tempered with some love also, as they have been in the past. Wiesel's writings call for a new start for theology, along the lines of the way Gregor and the tzaddik were thinking. They were willing to accept all the pain and suffering that had been heaped on them and their families and friends, and forgive God; for He, hopefully, knows what He is doing. And even if He doesn't, He is still God, and it is not for mortals to judge His acts, though they may question His motives.
We offer him only his freedom. If he exacts of his people a million children, it is because, in truth, he requires them to exalt his name may it be blessed and his power, for he is all of life as he is all of death. If he needs rivers of blood, let him be pitied for it is only that he lacks imagination. For man the infinite is God; for God the infinite is man. What was done had to be done and that is all that has to be said.
The greater plan no longer depends on the Jews, or any man. The Rebbe's faith is not unlike that before the Holocaust. But it is also very different. It is less blind. Gregor confronts this faith and finds it solid.
Be pure and God will be purified in you. I owe God nothing. He owes you nothing, either. You don't live his life and he doesn't live yours. You owe yourself something. What exactly, that's the question. There can be no anger toward God if He were never expected to do what He never did.
The Rebbe also spoke of suffering in the light of this new faith: For suffering contains the secret of creation and its dimension of eternity; it can be pierced only from the inside. Suffering betters some people and transfigures others. At the end of suffering, of mystery, God awaits us In a book entitled The Six Days of Destruction, Wiesel writes a set of prayers centering on reaffirming the faith.
They are followed by stories that we should never forget in the light of this return to faith. To this God, man says, I will take over for now. I will determine my fate. In Dawn, this is what the Jewish people are trying to do. To this end, they will try things they have never known before, even hate. Why will they try to hate? Their tragedy, throughout the centuries, has stemmed from their inability to hate those who have humiliated and from time to time exterminated them.
Now our only chance lies in hating you, in learning the necessity and the art of hate. In a story, he tells of meeting the Messiah, in disguise, on Earth.
The time has come for you to impose your will upon His, to pin Him to the wall. While we have faith in God that He has a plan, and that whatever happens will be for the good of that plan, we also help to shape that plan by actively seeking to make things happen, and realizing the importance of doing so. Perhaps that is the lesson of the Holocaust.
That though God's plans are beyond us all, we should not be so resigned to our faith in Him that we do not try to control our own destinies. But neither should we slap God in the face and say that we will no longer follow His rules because His plan did not fit in with ours. He knows that his relationship with God has changed significantly.
He is still questioning, as himself and as his characters in his books. Where is God to be found? In suffering or in rebellion? When is a man most truly a man? When he submits or when he refuses? Where does suffering lead him? To purification or to bestiality? Philosophy, I hoped, would give me an answer. I say there are none. To find one answer or another, nothing is easier: What the answers have in common is that they bear no relation to the questions. I cannot believe that an entire generation of fathers and sons could vanish into the abyss without creating, by their very disappearance, mystery which exceeds and overwhelms us.
I still do not understand what happened, or how, or why. All the words in all the mouths of the philosophers and psychologists are not worth the silent tears of that child and his mother, who live their own death twice. What can be done? In my calculations, all the figures always add up to the same number: This is what Moshe the Beadle had tried to tell Wiesel when he was a young boy in Sighet, before the terrors of the Holocaust destroyed his life.
That is the true dialogue. Man questions God and God answers.