EXPLAINING THE HOLOCAUST

[See Oraisa by Meiselman]


1. Uniqueness

a. implies unrelatedness to the rest of Jewish history

b. proportion killed, cruelty, social and psychological trauma were not unique - compare Chemelnicki, Crusades, second Temple, Babylonians, Twelve tribes

c. uniqueness of Nazi psychology is unimportant to us

2. National tragedy vs. individual suffering

a. many general reasons for suffering [The Informed Soul, chap. 6] - impossible to know in detail for particular cases

b. Holocaust as national tragedy: individuals can suffer without a recognizable national tragedy (e.g. via an international tragedy, or via many seemingly disconnected causes) - we are explaining only why the suffering took this form

3. Distinguish G-d causing from G-d allowing the Holocaust: the German's free will caused the Holocaust; G-d allowed them to act. [That also needs to be explained.] Thus no implication of Jewish guilt making the suffering of the Holocaust inevitable

4. Job and some Talmudic statements despair of explaining suffering; Lamentations and other Talmudic statements explain in terms of Jewish failure. Individual vs. national suffering - two paragraphs of Shema (singular vs. plural); Maimonides Laws of Fasts: all national suffering due to national failure in order to prompt reflection, analysis and cure

5. History and Meta-history

a. Esther: "What is this, and for what is this?" - underlying spiritual cause

b. in historical terms the Jewish People should not exist - only divine Providence can

explain Jewish survival - special divine protection required

c. purpose of Providence: maintain connection between G-d and the Jewish People

d. persecution (sometimes) a response to Jewish defection

6. [The War Against the Jews] Jewish population in pre-war Europe was 50%+ non-religious and rising; continuity of identity in Nazi ghettos - no rethinking of ideology; for the first time in 2200 years there is ideological defection from Torah: not forced conversion, but the idea that the alien ideology is superior to Torah - socialism, communism and secular Zionism

7. Why not the less religious population in the U.S.? Because G-d has expectations according to the resources of the community - compare Jonah's sailors

8. Compare response of secular and Torah-observant to camp conditions - Man's Search for Meaning, With G-d in Hell


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