Holocaust without End
Sixty-six years after the end of World War II, the Holocaust remains one of the central puzzles of human history. For Jews, the imperative is clear: to remember and to encourage others to remember. But remember what? Has the earnest dedication of both Jews and non-Jews to seek the meaning of the event and absorb its lessons ended by emptying it of meaning and lessons alike?
That is the question raised by an important new book, The End of the Holocaust. Its author, Alvin Rosenfeld, is a professor of English and Jewish studies at Indiana University who in the last years has devoted himself to the study of anti-Semitism, especially in its literary and cultural manifestations. In his judgment, the Holocaust has been universalized into a set of vague abstractions about human brutality, degraded into kitsch, Americanized into tales of uplift and redemption, and turned into a weapon against the Jews themselves. In short, the Holocaust has been undone. Whether we have reached the end of it is another, even darker question.
The very definition of the Holocaust has been grist for both debate and manipulation. Does the term refer exclusively to the Nazi murder of six million Jews or, as Simon Wiesenthal argued, the murder of eleven million including Poles, Russian prisoners, gypsies, and countless others? New analytical categories have also emerged, expanding the dramatis personae beyond perpetrators and victims to encompass survivors, rescuers, resisters, bystanders, and still others. Meanwhile, the sheer vastness of the Nazi homicidal enterprise—its implication of all of European civilization along with its seemingly infinite depths of brutality and perverse creativity—steadfastly remains beyond intellectual, emotional, and moral comprehension.
In these circumstances, it was perhaps understandable that the living would reach for ways to narrow the focus, searching for hope or triumph amid the despair, or deliberately looking away to clutch at normalcy. But was it also necessary that the Holocaust assume its place as a phenomenon that could be arbitrarily and fallaciously likened to disparate other phenomena, and in the process forfeit its specific meaning?
Rosenfeld points to the Diary of Anne Frank as a paradigmatic empty vessel. Rather than a murdered Jewish teenager, Anne Frank was made into a universal symbol of hope and uplift, her story routinely analogized to that of other plucky teens under stress. Garson Kanin, who directed the 1955 play based on her book, compared her with Peter Pan and the Mona Lisa, "forever adolescent . . . a shining star." Her death, Kanin observed, "doesn't seem to me a wasteful death, because she left us a legacy that has meaning and value to us as you look at the whole story."
But what is Anne Frank's "legacy"? It has been articulated in terms of the need to overcome the dangers of racism and homophobia, the need for tolerance and kindness in human relations, the need for the "international community," whatever that is, to prevent recurrences of mass murder, and so forth. In the meantime, as Rosenfeld calmly puts it, the "image of the emaciated disease-ridden girl lying dead amidst the human waste of the camp latrine, then dumped into a huge hole that served as a mass grave, forms no part of the cherished 'legacy' of Anne Frank."
When it comes to the "Americanization" of the Holocaust, Rosenfeld sees a confluence of factors at work. They include historical ignorance, an admirable revulsion against the idea of genocide, and a need for "closures that are optimistic and affirmative." In, for example, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993), Jews recede into the background while a morality play unfolds between two Germans, the good rescuer Oskar Schindler and the evil Nazi officer Amon Göth. Real Jewish suffering is a kind of plot device, required only to move the story to its uplifting conclusion.
Nor are non-American treatments all that different, though they can be worse. The original German translator of the Diary of Anne Frank systematically elided the story's German and German-Jewish resonances. Even so, Rosenfeld writes, Anne's story "broke through to German readers as almost nothing previously connected to the war had been able to do." And yet, along with breaking down the barriers to self-examination, the tale of this de-Judaized victim also offered absolution to German readers.
With reality itself having been rendered secondary, irrelevant, or vanishing, other values and messages come to the fore. For many European readers, the Holocaust mutated into another sort of morality play: a kind of crucifixion, in which the suffering of the Jews became amalgamated into the drama of Christian redemption.
From this initial but quite radical distortion, it was but a matter of steps before the Jews would be denied their perceived "monopoly" on victimization and then scolded for their stubborn insensitivity to the sufferings of others. Some European states, unhappy with the Jewish emphasis explicit in the commemoration known as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, have pushed to replace it with a comprehensive day of "Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism."
Writing of himself in the third person, the survivor Jean Améry noted: "Others judge and condemn him for continuing to bear his grudge. They resent his resentments, feel victimized by being reminded of his victimization." Rosenfeld also cites the quip of the German Jewish writer Henryk Broder to the effect that "Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz."
Indeed, the Jewish "fixation" with the Holocaust is itself now blamed for a host of evils, from Jewish ethnocentrism and lack of empathy to justification for Israeli territorial expansionism. In the meantime, demagogues like Louis Farrakhan demand acknowledgment that "their" Holocaust was "a hundred times worse" than the Jewish one, and Anne Frank is depicted in a Palestinian keffiyeh. The very term "Palestinian Holocaust" is perhaps the supreme example of theft, turning a unique genocide of Jews into a cudgel with which to beat the Jews for their alleged responsibility for another, wholly fabricated genocide.
Rosenfeld does have his saving counterexamples: in particular, literary artists who have written, as he says of Elie Wiesel, in order "to wrench [the] victims from oblivion. To help the dead vanquish death." In addition to Wiesel, his list includes Améry, Primo Levi, and Imre Kertész. In their works, personal experience and literary talent combine to perpetuate memory and guard against the twin temptations of oblivion and distortion, whether well-meaning or, as is so often the case, meretricious.
For the most part, however, Rosenfeld's fine study reinforces the impression that the Holocaust is simultaneously expanding and contracting. More books are published every year, academic programs multiply, every decent-sized American city has its "Holocaust memorial," and some even have "Holocaust and Human Rights Councils." Increasingly, all these tend to cast off the need for knowledge of historical reality in favor of therapeutic banalities that, as Rosenfeld puts it, "look to the Holocaust chiefly for pragmatic and didactic reasons, as a catalyst for moral education and social action."
At the same time, actual repudiation of both history and memory proceeds apace, while, mostly from the Islamic world, there issue daily calls for renewed genocide against the Jews and the "Nazi" state of Israel. Rosenfeld sums up by writing that Auschwitz is both "a warning from the past and, to some, a coveted possibility for the future." In that terrible sense, the Holocaust has no end.
Alex Joffe is a research scholar with the Institute for Jewish and Community Research.
What people need to remember today is that in the immediate aftermath of the war, there was very little information coming out about the dimensions of the crime, the premeditated nature of it, and the deep philosophical/religious importance of it. Elie Wiesel, therefore, does deserve the credit for bringing this subject to the forefront, with his historic book "Night" that finally broke the silence over this issue. The Holocaust was the very large straw that finally broke the back of European antiSemitism and made people see modern European culture for the very flawed culture that it became in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the European sense of moral superiority has never been the same since. Both victims and perpetrators of WWII in Europe shared many of the same attitudes toward Jews that made the Holocaust possible and prevented the rescue of more of the 6 million who perished.
That said, the American Jewish community leadership in the 1960s-1990s seized on this issue as a gimmick, in a sense, to give them a sense of identity and purpose that they had clearly lost by abandoning traditional Jewish culture and mores, in the previous few generations. They themselves helped to turn the Holocaust into a tawdry industry and vocabulary term, as a substitute for a meaningful and substantive Jewish communal culture.
Not surprisingly, although building Holocaust memorials galvanized the fund-raising efforts and sympathies of Jews who lived through the war and remember this period, many of the children and grandchildren of these very same people have turned away from Jewish communal life in America, seeing nothing in it but an emphasis on Jewish victimhood, rather than Jewish accomplishment and values. I am happy to see this generation of Jewish leaders disappear today and be replaced by another generation with a healthier attitude toward Jewish life (ie, we are not only about the Holocaust).
Yes, one thing is even more sickening: the co-opting of the Holocaust by the Palestinians, who claim that their own self-inflicted suffering is not equal to, but even worse than "The Holocaust," and the beatification of Rachel Corrie as "The Anne Frank of Gaza."
One can call an “industry” any human activity. This is true for civil war writing, slavery writing. It is fact true the commemoration of any historical event.
This view has become standard among Holocaust deniers, what they fail to mention is that Holocaust denial has also become an industry.
Those writing about the Holocaust at least write about an historical event. Those denying the Holocaust deny history and see their work as a prelude to a renewed fervent hatred of Jews.
“What people need to remember today is that in the immediate aftermath of the war, there was very little information coming out about the dimensions of the crime, the premeditated nature of it, and the deep philosophical/religious importance of it.”
There was a ton of information already in 1946 through the Nuremberg trials and personal testimony. What was lacking was the means of showing what happened to a mass audience that doesn’t read very much. This became possible in the age of TV which is why it wasn’t till the 60’s that Holocaust became more widely known.
“The Holocaust was the very large straw that finally broke the back of European antiSemitism and made people see modern European culture for the very flawed culture that it became in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the European sense of moral superiority has never been the same since.”
I am sorry Helen, but antisemitism is alive and well in Europe. The Europeans tend to subcontract antisemitism to the Muslims in their midst. In this way they can have their cake and eat it: they can claim not to be antisemitic while enjoying the antisemitic racist hatred directed at Jews by Muslim cultures.
“That said, the American Jewish community leadership in the 1960s-1990s seized on this issue as a gimmick, in a sense, to give them a sense of identity and purpose that they had clearly lost by abandoning traditional Jewish culture and mores, in the previous few generations.”
This isn't real The truth is that knowledge that millions of Jews were systematically killed in Europe overwhelms most other facts about Jewish life and history. This is a shame but there was no conscious effort by “the American Jewish community leadership in the 1960s-1990s” to use the Holocaust to perpetuate a sense of identity. If anything the opposite is true. The leadership had to respond to the anxieties expressed by members of their community that being Jewish was dangerous.
By focusing on the Holocaust itself they were able to harness the negative energy I(anxiety) within the community and use to construct a viable form of defense. Just as individuals in therapy are asked to deal with the source of their anxieties, so too the Jewish community, had to deal with their fears by focusing on the source of their anxieties.
By attacking the Jewish community, because they commemorate the Holocaust, antisemites (and anti-Zionists) hope to make Jews vulnerable once again. Read “The Finkler Question” by Howards Jacobson and Anthony Julius’ recent study Anthony Julius' “Trials of the Diaspora”
Jews who go along with these attacks are people who would prefer not to deal with their fears of being Jewish.
The obsessive focus on the Holocaust by secular Jews in the 1960-1990 was not a sign of health at all, because it came at the expense of Jewish education based on Torah and Mitzvot which is the bedrock of Jewish culture in all times and places. When Jewish American children who don't attend day schools know nothing about Torah and know only about the Holocaust that is not a sign of communal health. Not surprisingly, such children grow up and disaffiliate. A community that defines itself mainly by a culture of victimization is going to end up disappearing in an open society like America. The disappearance of secular Jewish culture and communal follows from the above analysis.
I never said it was a sign of help. I said that it was a necessary way of dealing with the deep traumas the Shoah opened in out psyche.
While focusing on Torah and Mitvot, as you say, is part of the core of the Jewish tradition, but so is the long history of persecution with which we are forced to come terms. It’s not an either/or issue.
“When Jewish American children who don't attend day schools know nothing about Torah and know only about the Holocaust that is not a sign of communal health.”
I agree; they should also learn Hebrew and secular Jewish culture.
“Not surprisingly, such children grow up and disaffiliate. A community that defines itself mainly by a culture of victimization is going to end up disappearing in an open society like America. The disappearance of secular Jewish culture and communal follows from the above analysis.”
I agree to some extent. What is driving assimilation is the omni-presence of non-Jewish media in their lives. There ought to be many more Jewish programs on TV and movies based on Jewish themes. In spite of what some think Hollywood isn’t Jewish.
However, the subject we are dealing with is the trivialization of the Holocaust.
Rabbi Motty Berger talked about the strange phenomenon of assimilation among the different nations ...
he says that the more any other people assimilate into the culture of the host nation the more they are welcomed, but the more the Jews try to assimilate the more antisemitism is displayed
Even you are a "good law abiding citizen" of the country you go to, you will be still seeing antisemitism.
The German Jews tried to be "more German than the Germans themselves" and they were the first to experience the Holocaust. "Krystalnacht - 1938"
Secular Jews have no real answer to the "Why Me?" question that bothers us Jews.
If we celebrate Pesach you would remember reading a small paragraph that says not only Paro but in EVERY generation they rise up to destroy us but the Unseen One - Hakadosh Baruch Hu rises up to save us from their hands.
No more than religious Jews (even ultra Orthodox Jews) know why they along with non observant Jews were sent to the death camps.
Is there an answer? ( I know some ultra Orthodox who like to believe that Jews were killed in the Holocaust because of the non observant Jews. This is just a bigoted belief and unproven. When you can tell me why infants too were murdered than I will listen.
Antisemitism is one of those phenomena that no one understands. The best we can do is notice it and not invent stupid reasons.
“If we celebrate Pesach you would remember reading a small paragraph that says not only Paro but in EVERY generation they rise up to destroy us but the Unseen One - Hakadosh Baruch Hu rises up to save us from their hands.”
Not always, Aharon, he didn’t save most of us during the Holocaust or during the Spanish persecutions in the 14th century.
Btw: in Spain during the persecutions many religious Jews including Rabbis converted away from Judaism and during the Bolshevik revolution many Yeshiva boys embraced the communists while many Jewish skeptics and agnostics did not.
You sold amend the Haggadah to read in “Every generation they rise up to destroy us, and in every generation many Jews believers save themselves with the help of God and some of their neighbors.”
There are no clear cut answers. Some of us stay Jews because we love our traditions language and its way of life.
If you teach this you will be ahead of the game.
Quite true, but if you study the amazing fact that 1/5 of each generation remained Jewish throughout history.
You sold amend the Haggadah to read in “Every generation they rise up to destroy us, and in every generation many Jews believers save themselves with the help of God and some of their neighbors.”
Their neighbours were acting under the influence of
G-d to save those Jews.
I agree with your conclusion to a point. Traditions , what traditions and why observe them at all if you don't believe and understand the First Cause [we call it Hashem or Elokim] operating throughout the universe]
And the text should NOT be amended but analyzed and used as a springboard for further understanding. Just go to your local Jewish bookstore and see how many commentaries one can get on the text of the Hagadah.
One notes the absence of a mention of God in the notion of "traditions," so are traditions inclusive of belief in God or now such a big, amorphous tent that this can be dispensed with?
One notes that Hebrew, as well as Ladino and Jiddisch, are not the language of Jewish Ideas Daily, rather English is. Language alone is not explanatory. Does one include "biblical Hebrew" as well as modern Hebrew? Or does this citation wish to sidestep issues of God as centered in the Jewish experience?
"Its way of life." Which way of life? The secular humanist Jew is different than the orthodox which is again different from various smaller sects. I remain unsure what "way of life" actually means in the criticism offered.
As to God not saving Jews from the Nazi genocide, there have been throughout the prophetic literature dire warnings which are the absence of "teshuvah." Complaining about God not "saving" whether in the South European inquisition or the Nazi genocide seems rather more a Christian sentiment, than a Jewish one. Does God "save" or does turning to God's commandments save? Perhaps some clarification might assist me.
Some thought they were some didn't think so.
If you make God the cause of everyone actions, you also have to say that those who murdered Jews were also acting "under the influence of God."
Do you really believe that God ordered the murder of millions of infants?
SW, there are differences buy they are more similar to each other than they are to say, Christians, or Muslims.
"Complaining about God not "saving" whether in the South European inquisition or the Nazi genocide seems rather more a Christian sentiment, than a Jewish one."
This is utter nonsense. Jews were and are concerned about the absence of God during the Holocaust. It's a genuine Jewish question, no matter how you answer it.
If you ignore than you are dealing with reality. Many Jews, religious and secular ones and especially Jews who lived through the Shoah from Levinas to Fackenheim and Elie Wiesel wrote about it.
The question were is God is omnipresent in Wiesel's work.
"Does God "save" or does turning to God's commandments save? Perhaps some clarification might assist me."
Many, probably most of the Jews in Eastern Europe who were killed by the Nazis and their helpers kept the commandments. It didn't save them.
The point is that the Holocaust is one of those events that doesn't offere simple answers either to religious or secular Jews.
If you think it does than you are not dealing with the real events that killed many of our family members.
"One notes the absence of a mention of God in the notion of "traditions," so are traditions inclusive of belief in God or now such a big, amorphous tent that this can be dispensed with?"
The secular person, Jew or otherwise is plagued by the problem of understanding history and philosophy are one and the same ... Aristotle the great philosopher admitted that there has to be a "First Cause" that was UNCAUSED!
What the real problem is, is that the Secular person does not want to undestand this prime point. so how does he claim the universe came about? Either there was something that caused it to happen or it just happens by some fluke accident.
The role of Tradition in every culture serves as a basis for continuity among the beings of the universe. Yet the secular person only sees it as a series of unexplained "ACCIDENTS".
The Jewish way of life is over 3500 years. A unique twin set of events we are to remember as:
1. Yitzias Mitzrayim - a whole people left Mitzrayim at one point in history - 3 million people is a very conservative estimate.
2. Matan Torah - this same group make the rediculous claim of hearing G-d all at once speak the 1st two of the Asseres Hadibros [10 Principles] at a small mountain called Sinai some 50 days later.
As for tradition, they passed this down father to son, mother to daughter, rebbe to talmid and if you recall Moshe was speaking in Devarim to the 2nd generation and it was this generation, if any, who could say to Moshe, Moishy, excuse me, MOISHY, We did not hear anyone say these rules. And while it is not my intent to point out that Moshe had to contend with Korach, Korach himself never denied that Hashem did not say these words at Sinai. [he could not say that even if he tried to prove Moshe is a liar]
So the bottom line is: can we observe any tradition at all without acknowledging an Infinite being, First Cause or Hashem?
"As to God not saving Jews from the Nazi genocide, there have been throughout the prophetic literature dire warnings which are the absence of "teshuvah." Complaining about God not "saving" whether in the South European inquisition or the Nazi genocide seems rather more a Christian sentiment, than a Jewish one. Does God "save" or does turning to God's commandments save? Perhaps some clarification might assist me."
If you will read the Warnings from both this week's Torah reading as well as the one from Ki Tavo in devarim and line them up with the history of the Jewish people you will find ample fulfillment of these prophesies. And Hashem promises that he will cause a miraculous turning of the hearts of the fsthers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers ... this has been indeed happening post World War II. We pray that Hashem will cause this to happen as Jews return to their roots and their land.
Teshuvah means return and not as much as repentance. Return in the sense of return to your inner most good being which is connected to Hashem.[this idea is expressed in sefer TANYA]
Now you are shifting the argument away from moral issues to issues of theology.
We are concerned with the Holocaust and not with the existence of God. Not all secular persons are atheists.
On another occasion I will be glad to discuss with you Aristotle but this isn’t the place for it.
I do not argue that the Holocaust can be answered with simple questions. You speak of "the absence of God during the Holocaust," where I see no absence. The matter of evil is a huge theological discussion, but it comes down to National Socialism coupled to a viscious anti-Semitism. Moreover, there was a aggressive denial across Europe as in US that such a thing was actually occuring when it occurred. Were millions of Jews killed? Of course, and horribly. They were killed by the acts of political savagery. Were there some Jews who fled in time, and others who were saved by courageous heroes? Of course, and wondrously so. Wherein is God as "savior" in this? To my thinking, nowhere. Where is God as motivating people to act with mercy and compassion towards one another? In all the heroic acts everywhere? Where was God as motivating the Holocaust? Nowhere, for this was evil created by man. To speak of "God's absence" seems still far to messianic in the Christian sense, because it logically follows -- if it was indeed an "absence" -- that it was intentional. This is silly stuff. God acts in man's life according to what I know of the rabbinic tradition by informing us of the right things to do, the best ways to live, and so on. This means there is no "absence." The "God's absence" phrase itself implies an expectation that either 1) God must work miracles which we can always demand, or 2) God chooses to be absent, or 3) there is no God. Such conclusions are beyond my ken. God was present in a killing chamber when one man said Sh'ma in his last moments, this story repeated in a variety of details by many. To ask later about "God's absence" because no supernatural "swooped in" and fixed things seems not particularly a Jewish point of view. Does God save? Such a question, such an expectation seems so something-other-than-Jewish.
I did not nor do I assert some overtly simple answer to the Holocaust, aside from this: the confluence of European anti-Semitism with government power and the seductive philosophy of socialism coupled to nationalism became a muderous stream, whose Holocaust marked men with mogen david stars, pink triangles and many other codes, and then executed them. Their allies included some French, Austrians, and other Europeans of like sentiment, brigades of Muslims on the Arab pennisula and North Africa and peace apologists over a number of years in the US. That is the cause of the Holocaust, neither trivial nor nor simple. "God's absence" is not an explanation of the Holocaust and horrid theology for a Jew to adopt. So it seems from this vantage point in Germany today.
Today German Judaism grows slowly, but it grows. There is no "God's absence" in this, I assure you. Or do you think God sometimes takes an absence to prove some point?
Still, if one is going to invoke God then he or she has to ask "where is God in all of this."
Many great orthodox Jewish theologians have asked that question and given complex answers.
One does not "have" to ask. Posing the question, as with many polls and tests, implies an answer of some sort.
Asking the question broaches a second question to you, sir. What is your answer to your own question?
I have read many Jewish theologians, and am aware of their views. I am as yet unaware of your answer to the question which you yourself pose.
My answer is contained in an earlier post. "There is no 'God's absence' in this, I assure you."
Now I shall await your reply to the same question -- your question now awaits your answer, so that I might further understand your position.
Mr. Lindsay, we are in agreement on this.
“"Still, if one is going to invoke God then he or she has to ask 'where is God in all of this.'"
One does not "have" to ask. Posing the question, as with many polls and tests, implies an answer of some sort.”
If you can’t see the difference between addressing a serious historical and theological issue and taking a poll, then I suggest you are not a serious person.
“Asking the question broaches a second question to you, sir. What is your answer to your own question?”
I made it clear above that I have no answer to the question.
“My answer is contained in an earlier post. "There is no 'God's absence' in this, I assure you."”
Good for you, so why did God stand by and let a million Jewish children be murdered?
“Now I shall await your reply to the same question -- your question now awaits your answer, so that I might further understand your position.”
My position is not complicated as you can see.
"I do not argue that the Holocaust can be answered with simple questions. You speak of "the absence of God during the Holocaust," where I see no absence. The matter of evil is a huge theological discussion, but it comes down to National Socialism coupled to a viscious anti-Semitism."
If you will read the historian Josephus in what he talks about the Babylonian and the Roman forced destruction of the Jewish stste together with the exile of the Jewish People their acts were no less barbaric than Hitler yimach shmo... here it is a matter of numbers but the intent is the Same ... the wholesale destruction of the Jewish people because of our lack of fulfillment of the laws of the Torah.
The author of Mein Kampf made it clear that he was going to get power to do this. So even if you say that there is NO G-d because of Hitler's intent, it IS the same thing that AMALEK did right at the beginning of the going out of Egypt. in Devarim we are told "V'LO YOREI ELOKIM" he did not Fear G-d [as manifested in the Natural law of cause and effect].
And certainly Hitler and Haman did not fear Him.
One Rabbi, known as the Chofetz Chayim has stresed that one sin would later cause the destruction of the Jewish people ... it was hatred exprssed as LASHON HARAH speaking evil of another.
There is one book that has been used by all the Anti-Israel Anti Semites to justify their attempt to destroy us - The Protocols of Zion.
Hitler studied it, the Arab leaders study it, you name it their lessons are from there.
And let us recall that not in the days of Pharoah 3550 years ago but at our Pesach Seders we say IN EVERY GENERATION THEY RISE UP AGAINST US BUT HAKADOSH BARUCH HU SAVES US FROM THEIR HANDS.
You say you have no answer ... I don't have a clear answer either ... One thing is clear - Is the Holocaust [Shoah] a Separate event or is there a pattern of repetition of the event in 3500 years of Jewish suffering throughout History.
The present writer can reasonably say that there is a pattern throughout 3500 years of history
Of all the ancient nations we are one of a few who are still here.
Without understanding the dynamics of the process of Reincarnation, we look at this question as a reason as a matter of what's in front of you.
To illustrate. you see a chair made by somebody. who banged nails into a few pieces of wood together and he made an object useful to sit down on which we call a chair ...
Then someone 150 years ago discovered there are small particles called atoms that could be broken down into and commbined to make a piece of wood ...
100 years ago another person found the electron and proton were smaller than the atom - molecule and had negative or positives charges atached to it called ENERGY.
No one has seen these things wih his eyes. yet no modern scientist will doubt these exist ...
You don't like to call this super energy G-d then don't ... our sages have understood that there is a single force in the universe and anyone who has done research into the Law of Attraction - Repulsion will also see the POWER of human choice ... by virtue of this free choice you can either accept this power or deny this power. A live socket can be filled with a light bulb or your little baby finger ... you choose.
My next question will really show you the real truth... It's not G-d who allows man to klll 1 million Jewish children, but as you study the history you find that every country refused to allow Jews to come in to live there North America, South America
Africa, Australia ... in short The entire Civilised world did not raise so much as shout to save Jews Te Allies had a tremendous option to bomb the railway tracks bringing Jews to Auschwitz as early as 1942 yet they did not bomb those tracks .. so who is really responsible ... So we talk about the Holocaust and yet we are asking the wrong question here?
G-d gave the human race a developed mind and a ability to know right and wrong
If you will walk in my Chukim Laws Hashem promises good will occur - the laws of morality, as the laws of nature bear this that Hashem is in charge...
I deliberately left out the Kabbalistic - Reincarnation aspect because many will simply dismiss this explanation and to do so is beyond the scope of this paper!
I agree with you that your position is, as you state, indeed not complicated. It is not having a position which is complicated, and your repetition of the question while denying an answer to it for yourself as for others sets you up as judge of others -- and God -- while evading the same measure by which you would judge others.
This is classic moral relativism, in which one side is critiqued while the one critiquing evades any statement which might then be open to the same rules of debate and judgment.
Using your repartee, in response to your statement " I have no answer to the question," I shall adopt your response and return it to you. "Good for you."
This brings me to an end of this dialogue, in which you ask again the same question which you say has no answer. So why? So why? So why? No answer. So why? So why? No answer. So why? Exegisis of a high order, worthy of Gramsci himself.
No it isn’t, David, and if you think it is then we nothing to talk about.
Murder of individuals by individuals isn’t the same as genocide and taking refuge in mythic analogies and explanations isn’t rational.
You are going from historical and theological explorations to psychologizing me. Not a sign that you understand what I am saying.
“This is classic moral relativism, in which one side is critiqued while the one critiquing evades any statement which might then be open to the same rules of debate and judgment.”
No it isn’t moral relativism. Moral relativism would answer that the Holocaust was no different from any other murder or mass murder in history. It would equate the murder of a “Cain” by an “Able” with the murder of a million infants. That is moral relativism.
Because the Holocaust was so horrific that we need to ask serious questions. Asking a question is not a sign of moral relativism. Moral relativism offers answers and doesn’t ask questions.
Now some questions have no ready answers, usually the most important questions don’t as the author of the Book of Job and many of the psalmists knew.
It’s the very asking that leads you to further inquiry.
You seem to have found an answer for yourself, good for you. For me the existence of evil is still a mystery.
So the questions remain: “where was God or Hashem or Adonai” during the Shoah?
Your questions amass. "Is there an answer?"
"Do you really believe that God ordered the murder of millions of infants?"
"Still, if one is going to invoke God then he or she has to ask 'where is God in all of this.'" Another question without the punctuation to mark it as such.
"Good for you, so why did God stand by and let a million Jewish children be murdered?"
"So the questions remain: “where was God or Hashem or Adonai” during the Shoah?"
And you correct me with, "Because the Holocaust was so horrific that we need to ask serious questions. Asking a question is not a sign of moral relativism. Moral relativism offers answers and doesn’t ask questions."
Actually moral relativism asks many questions, and then asserts there are no identifiable answers.
You assert there are no answers while while you yourself invoke "God in all of this."
But your questions are questions of criticism, done in a clever way.
You say you have no answers, but each reprhasing of your question presumes that God must answer for the horrific deeds of man, political ideology and anti-Semitism. Each question -- some placed in the mouths of others who have responded to you -- asks in the negative, all the while you assert the questions are valid and yet no answers are valid.
Your questions come to this: You imply through questions that God is somehow answerable for the Shoah. Your questions posit their own answer.
I made a small comment about the recitation of the Sh'ma in a gas chamber, and you gloss over this. The State of Israel is born from the ashes of this horrific event.
As with the carrying off into Babylon, horrific things have befallen the Jewish people. Yet God remains. Not "where does God remain?" Simply God remains. Your repetition of the questions as an indictment of God or perhaps an indictment of your inability to find, as you write, "God or HaShem or Adonai" is your answer. It is your repetitious indictment of God. You no doubt will continue to indict God with more questions, all alike unto the above.
It is moral relativism cloaked in an assertion that there is no other human genocide or equal weight or value.
One third of the Cambodian people might argue your assertion. 35 million Ukrainians dead of famine under Stalin might argue your assertion. Mao's famine and 38 million dead Chinese might argue your assertion. The total dead from the Nazi camps number far more than just Jewish numbersm, in fact more that double.
Where was God in any of these? I cannot answer you the way you might wish, but I can answer a similar question. Where was man's politics in all of this?
Here is the answer: National Socialism. Soviet Socialism. Sino Socialism. Khmer Rouge Socialism. And more. Baathist socialism. Cuban socialism.
Death by brutal government and brutal ideology.
Your questions about God are indictments, remain indictments and you will not have it answered by others.
That six million is not thirty-eight million is not thirty-five million is not the third of a nation's entire population is obvious.
Question God as much as you like, but you focus on the evil of "God's absence" when the focus will be far more edifying if you focus on "man's presence" in all this horror of the Holocaust and holocausts.
Your questions remain, because you will have them hang in the air as indictments of God. And you would have others join you, questioning "where was God?"
Ah, the question surely is clearer when one asks, "where was man?"
Man was there, as the murdered as well as the murderer. In millions of individual acts amassed into horrific numbers. Man was there to drop the cannisters. Man was there to fire the bullets. Man was there to plan the genocides -- plural. In each man that did such heinous things, God was most certainly not there. But not of God's doing; of man's.
It is the loss of God which allows the chains of humanity to be rendered into murderousness. It is the absence of God as man makes it so that caused this misery.
So ask you indictment with a question mark. The answer is not where you seek it. The answer is where it is -- with the evils of men. Socialists, all.
This is why the Holocaust and other holocausts are so often trivialized, because the real culprit is vicious, muderous man. Where is God in all this? Absent in men such as there. Were that this not so. But it is.
“Do you really believe that God ordered the murder of millions of infants?"
Where did I say that?
“Actually moral relativism asks many questions, and then asserts there are no identifiable answers.
You assert there are no answers while while you yourself invoke "God in all of this."”
Moral relativism doesn’t ask questions. It merely states that all views are relative.
This is not my position. If you are going to argue with me, don’t invent quotes. Also if you don’t accept my assertion that I am not a moral relativist, then there is no need to keep up this conversation.
Sorry but this isn't true, many Nazis and pro-Nazis were clergymen who believed in "God." Some were Protestant, some Catholic, and some were Muslim.
These people were not "moral relativists." They believed in evil as an absolute.
As a recent writer said: The Nazis thought that Jews "were evil," while the pro Nazi the Islamicists think that evil "is Jewish."
Think about that.
Also try investigating what those nutty Naturei Karta believe about the Holocaust.
To your first question:
“Do you really believe that God ordered the murder of millions of infants?" Where did I say that?
Jacob Arnon on May 19, 2011 10:43 am: Do you really believe that God ordered the murder of millions of infants? (Last paragraph)
I have 'invented' none of your quotes.
You are correct. There is no need to continue this, for I have cut-and-pasted your quotes from the dialogue above, quotes which you question of yourself now. Re-read them if you are at all interested, for they are there as you posted them.
And yes, as to "Also if you don’t accept my assertion that I am not a moral relativist, then there is no need to keep up this conversation." I do not accept your assertion. Your debate tactic has been textbook moral relativism with the twist of asserting one great genocide while diminishing others and greater. This is not a Jewish persepctive, for all unjust deaths matter, whether ours or non-Jews.
'The Shoah can only be questioned, by questioning God' has been your consistent theme, and alongside it has been your consistent assertion that recurrently asking while not accepting answers is the gambit, and of course this places you as judge over others. As I say, it is textbook Frankfurt School, even if you learned it second- or third-hand from an intermediate source. The goal is "question God," then "question God" and especially "question God's absence." This is indictment by repetition, the inference being "God is absent." This tactic in other guises has been often used against the petit bourgeois, against capitalism, against family, against Judaism itself, against many life issues, and historically against Western civilization itself. The method for question by indictment is: 1) Why? But do not allow an answer or rebuttal! 2) Repeat step 1.
So I quote your last line, for quoting your own words seems apt here -- "...there is no need to keep up this conversation."
As to my question is was a question in a context. The context was your saying stating that God was not absent during the Holocuast:
Here is your comment:
"God was present in a killing chamber when one man said Sh'ma in his last moments, this story repeated in a variety of details by many."
SW on May 19, 2011 11:53 am:
What proof do you have that God was present then? Moreover to say that God was present in the Gas chambers is to say that he exists, that he knew what was going, and that he didn't care.
If this is your idea of non moral-relativism, you can have it.
I am not a moral relativist but some non moral relativists who believe in absolute values have done more damage to the cause of morality than moral relativism.
"The Shoah can only be questioned, by questioning God' has been your consistent theme..."
Only when I was responding to people like you who believe that belief in God is the only response possible to the Shoah.
Jacob Arnon on May 20, 2011 04:21 pm: "'The Shoah can only be questioned, by questioning God' has been your consistent theme..." Only when I was responding to people like you who believe that belief in God is the only response possible to the Shoah."
Consistent theme "only when I was responding to people like you...." says he. Thank you for your derision.
"I am not a moral relativist but some non moral relativists who believe in absolute values have done more damage to the cause of morality than moral relativism," he writes.
"Belief in absolute values has done more damage to the cause of morality than moral relativism" is an argument for and evidence in your own words that you practice moral relativism while denying it.
The opposites in your dialectic are relative and aboslute, and you defend the relative by condemning the aboslute.
The opposites in your dialectic are "God" and "God's absence," and you defend "God's absence" by the gambit of repititious indictment.
Yes sir, I conclude with gathered evidence of your own words that you practice moral relativism.
Well SW, I will not respond to your incoherent reply.
I didn't propose a dialectic. However, since 'moral relativism" is the devil as far as you are concerned then I must be a moral relativist and anything I say will fall on deaf ears.
As I said above moral relativism isn't the worst thing in the world given that most evil comes from absolutists like the Nazis, the Bolsheviks, the Islamicists and in general the religious fanatics of all faiths "moral relativism doesn't seem so bad, does it now?
Moreover, we live in a secular culture that has been practicing a form of moral relativism and eschews orthodoxy. Moreover Judaism was accepted here precisely because the founding documents believed that any moral absolutes (in the plural) would be detrimental to human freedom. It's odd then that you should embrace moral absolutism.
The opposites in your dialectic are "God" and "God's absence," and you defend "God's absence" by the gambit of repititious indictment.
So I'll ask:
For those who say that G-d is absent [so to speak] as if he has that power in major events in world history, is it possible to say that it is we who don't see the daily "yad Hashem" acting in our daily ordinary activities and we don't have any reason to be here at all?
For those of us who understand the laws of Entropy, know that matter is returning to its simpler form and were it NOT being kept going by a power we call G-d [see the Tanya in section 2] when he states emphatically that the if the very letters with which Hashem created the universe are still tanding in front of Hashem and the Tanya states that were one of these letters to disappear the ENTIRE UNIVERSE as we know it would revert back to Tohu Vavohu Eyin v'efes [a state of naught and nothingness just as IT WAS NON-EXISTENT] before the moment of Creation.
And now back to the question of where Hashem was hiding during the Shoah I don't have any answer that will satisy all here Except that the Torah is written in Lashon Adam [language of man] to make him understand who this force we call Hashem or G-d is and how he runs the Universe of which this planet we call Aretz runs on its axis around the sun tilted 23 1/2 degrees to create te six seasons in the torah after the flood of Noach's time.
This same Torah warns us in Parshat Bechukotai and in Parshat Ki Tavo of the dire punishments awaiting us if we choose to walk as if everything happens "beKeri" by Chance. And to the best of my understanding the Trah is reliable when it explains what will happen if we do not live in his laws.
Mr. Lindzon observes that not seeing the hand of God is not evidence that there is no hand of God, or that the hand of God is at any time or any place absent. This is Mr. Arnon's argument by the indictment of repitious questions.
Moral relativism is not a tenet of any belief system, and Judaism assuredly is a belief system. Moral relativism is the game played against belief systems, as one sees moral relativist attacks on not only Judaism, but other religions as well. This is because the stake for moral relativism is to "prove" the secular as greater than the sacred, even superceding it. I merely pointed out that a set of repititous questions was essentially an indictment of God, and that this is a textbook example of the 1900s Frankfurt School and forward, whose singular goal has been the withering of Western civilization. Among the necessary targets for this is belief in God, for the tearing down of the West is meant to install a secular belief in the state. Most of the European socialists of the early 1900s did not hold this view, many of them actually seeking to "socialize" society by liberating it from the state. This was an anthema to the Frankfurt School and remains an anathema to those who so energetically support their vision of the state, usually as powerful and correct. For a state -- or the dream of an even greater state -- to take deeper root, it must root out God, family, individualism and certainly religions as opposing entities.
Mr. Arnon errs in suggesting that I "embrace moral absolutism." In fact and oddly, his aboslute devotion to moral relativist argument is evidence of a belief system, whose roots I suggest are outside the normal root system of Judaism.
Mr. Lindzon writes, "reliable when it explains what will happen if we do not live in his laws." I think this the less aboslute view than a moral relativist's, for it acknowledges that there are "reliable" rules of society and human behavior but acknowledges that breaches of these rules have consequences. This is the real opposite to the moral relativist, who would deny rules as consequences.
Whether one reads Torah or Darwin, the notion that there are principles by which to live well is unmistakable. And like the Deuteronomic dyad of blessings and curses, we might see that there is good and there is evil. In science and in engineering as in physic and math, there are abiding principles which are inviolate. Lindzon's "reliable" strikes me as pleasant music for thought, while Arnon's repetitious questions for which he claims no answer and his derision -- my being "incoherent" is the latest example -- is well noted. Moreover his assertion that Judaism's "founding documents believed that any moral absolutes (in the plural) would be detrimental to human freedom" demonstrates that he has more loyalty to moral relativism than to the texts which he incorrectly has summarized as saying that there are no moral absolutes.
In this discourse, I am far more comfortable with that which may be seen as "reliable" over the spirited defence of moral relativism, which has suggests this odd argumentation is somehow more reliable by eschewing the "reliable."
My point was and remains that Mr. Arnon has been playing the cards of the moral relativist from start to this moment while denying this is true. He has argued against any view but his own, while defending moral relativism which proves that his moral relativism is in fact not "relative" at all, but amusingly absolute in its relativism. I suspect he is a passionate political man, whose allegiance to politics is greater by far than his allegiance to God.
In inverse observation, I suspect that Mr. Lindzon exhibits allegiance to the "reliable," as do I.
This does not make up moral absolutists, for I am sure we make allowances that there are other views, and that each man chooses some allegiance and then should accept the consequence of those choices. I opt for belief in God, as seen through the marvelous lenses of rabbinic Judaism. Why should this upset anyone commenting on this site, which is called "Jewish Ideas Daily?" The reason I come up with is that some arguments are not very Jewish at all, and for this I look back in history to see where such antecendent might inform on today.
What is indeed "detrimental to human freedom?" Certainly not a belief in God. What is usually detrimental to human freedom, as the history of the 20th century teaches in blood, is vicious government, the likes of the National Socialists, the Soviet Socialists and more. To escape notice of this salient detail for those who cherish moral relativism which might excuse much, one attacks Western civilization itself. One attacks belief. One attacks religion. One attacks God.
God does not take away human freedom. Men take human freedom away from other men. They do this by means of government espousing violence against a people.
God takes away nothing from us. To indictment him with such passion therefore suggests to me other elements at work. Throughout the history of the 20th century some of the greatest attacks have come through the offices of Gramscian thought. Moral relativism was among its postulates, its cudgels and its weapons.
Looking at Judaism alongside moral relativism, one finds the moral relativist loudly or subtlely acting against Judaism, while Judaism simply carries on. The hand of God did not carry a billyclub through the 20th century. It took militant socialism to make that real. Militant, morally relativistic socialism.
“For those of us who understand the laws of Entropy, know that matter is returning to its simpler form and were it NOT being kept going by a power we call G-d [see the Tanya in section 2] when he states emphatically that the if the very letters with which Hashem created the universe are still tanding in front of Hashem and the Tanya states that were one of these letters to disappear the ENTIRE UNIVERSE as we know it would revert back to Tohu Vavohu Eyin v'efes [a state of naught and nothingness just as IT WAS NON-EXISTENT] before the moment of Creation. “
Sorry David but the law of entropy is a specific to thermodynamics and has nothing to do with religion.
“Entropy is a thermodynamic property that can be used to determine the energy not available for useful work in a thermodynamic process, such as in energy conversion devices, engines, or machines. Such devices can only be driven by convertible energy, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency when converting energy to work. During this work, entropy accumulates in the system, but has to be removed by dissipation in the form of waste heat.
The concept of entropy is defined by the second law of thermodynamics, which states that the entropy of an isolated system always increases or remains constant. Thus, entropy is also a measure of the tendency of a process, such as a chemical reaction, to be entropically favored, or to proceed in a particular direction. It determines that thermal energy always flows spontaneously from regions of higher temperature to regions of lower temperature, in the form of heat. These processes reduce the state of order of the initial systems, and therefore entropy is an expression of disorder or randomness. This model is the basis of the microscopic interpretation of entropy in statistical mechanics describing the probability of the constituents of a thermodynamic system to be occupying accessible quantum mechanical states, a model directly related to the information entropy.”
Your use of it therefore can only be metaphoric at best and as an attempt to obfuscate at worst.
“And now back to the question of where Hashem was hiding during the Shoah I don't have any answer that will satisy all here Except that the Torah is written in Lashon Adam [language of man] to make him understand who this force we call Hashem or G-d is and how he runs the Universe of which this planet we call Aretz runs on its axis around the sun tilted 23 1/2 degrees to create te six seasons in the torah after the flood of Noach's time.”
This too is another one of your obfuscating comments. If you are comfortable fighting antisemitism through prayer and through ritual observance, that’s fine with me. Just don’t think it will save your wife and children in time of need.
Prayer is fine, but learning how to organize and fight back is more effective. Most of the Jews who survived in the Holocaust did so because they in one way or another they fought back.
God had little to do with it.
“The notion that moral relativism is the opposite of moral absolutism -- a term I have not employed -- amuses me.”
I am glad you are amused, however, you do seem to believe in an absolute morality.
Her or his use of Gramsci also shows that the poster was a former Marxist of some kind and seems to have brought this former belief system into his Judaism.
Marxism is of course an absolutist doctrine and this is why this poster has problems with relativism a mode of thought he or she hardly understands. This is why SW feels comfortable calling me a “relativist.”
In any case, SW, have fun arguing with yourself or with that other maven David Aharon Lindzon.
And he says repeatedly he has "no answer" to the questions he poses to others as well as to himself.
One wonders about a life without answers. One wonders about a belief in God wherein God is absent, if indeed there is any belief in God there. Else his questions are wholly rhetorical bait attached to his rhetorical hook.
Indeed if the argumentative Mr. Arnon measures -- by employing his own words addressed most recently yo me -- "how uncomfortable...he feels about the argument... he offers," might one expect him to again counter with more questions without answers, more comment without explanation and additional ad hominem to clarify his already quite clear position.
As he wrote for us to read, "I made it clear above that I have no answer to the question."
Quite clear. No answer.
RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG
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We are now in a position to wipe out whole cities as was shown by the devastating end of the World War II with the drppping of the Atomic Bomb on Japan.
We are obliged to remember Amalek and his sneak attack because he did not fear the natural universal LAW [hebrew: ELOKIM] of cause and effect.
Does the World learn its lessons? Well yes - it has avoided dropping Nuclear weapons on cities but it still engages in war ... Have we grown to be more compassionate as we work to the great day of Lo yisa goy el goy cheirev v'lo yilmedu od milchama - nation shall not strive against nation and not learn war again.
It is not my intention to treat the holocaust as an event by itself but to try to find an antidote for any future occurances.