Sunday, August 11, 2013

Memorializing the Holocaust Can Be Wasteful

Rabbi Avigdor Miller (zt'l) answered this question once, at the end of his lecture:
"Is it true too much time, money and energy is spent studying the Holocaust instead of disseminating Torah and Judaism?"

ANSWER
Yes and No. Without reference to God, it's absolutely a waste of time; It's a waste of money! All the Holocaust memorials are almost worthless if they think they're going to change the gentiles into being more remorseful by making a big memorial, to make the gentiles ashamed and therefore they'll become kinder to the Jewish people; It's not so.

The Holocaust memorials only give some gentiles more appetite to do the same. The more they hear what Hitler did, the more they're inspired to emulate him. You have to know that; You cannot make them sorry for what they did.

However, for Jews - it's a valuable study if we'll begin to understand "What has God done to us?" (Gen.42:38) God did it. Try to understand; What was the situation in Eastern Europe and Germany before the Holocaust came? What was the situation of Jews in Holland and in Belgium, and in France?

Those Jews who were suddenly dragged from their comfortable homes and deported to the crematoria, what were they doing before this happened? Were they assimilating, were they getting lost? What were the Jews in Poland and Lithuania and Latvia doing? What were the Jews in Russia doing? Were they getting lost with Communism? Millions of Jews in Russia were trying their best to become real Russians; Very many were members of the anti-God societies.

The Yevsektsia was a Jewish organization that was devoted to the eradication of the Jewish religion - they were all Jews, by the way. And in Poland, the Tarbut school was the most popular form of school for children. All Tarbut schools were in the hands of atheists, and they were the most widespread schools for Jewish children in Poland.

So you have to look back and understand the Holocaust didn't come for nothing, otherwise it's a waste! God visited such punishments on His people, and no lessons are being learned! "For what should you be smitten?" (Isaiah 1:5). "Should you persist to get worse?", instead of getting better? And therefore, when people utilize the Holocaust as an argument against God, "Why did He do that to us?" - instead of arguing for God - certainly they're misusing it.

But it could be used properly, were it taught as one of the forms of the Rebukes (Deut.28:15-68, Lev.26:14-42), and just like you learn about the destruction of The Temple and we say, "For our sins we were exiled from our Land" (Musaf), we'll understand also from the Holocaust; There's very much to learn. And we in America have to take it to heart, because in Germany they were just as confident it can never happen there. Had you told a German in 1920 that someday his children would be murdering Jews, he'd put his hand on his children's head and swear by his god it would never happen. Even to Germans it was unthinkable they would kill people for nothing. Germany was a decent, civilized country.

And therefore the Jews of America and of all other countries where they are enjoying liberty should take the Holocaust to heart and study it like we study the Rebukes. Such a study would be valuable.


-- From the Introduction to Rabbi Miller's book, "A Divine Madness"

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