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December 21, 1979 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-12-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

4

111E BURNT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, December 21, 1979

Indestructible Faith in Almighty and Rejection of Faithlessness
Is Emphasized in Eliezer Berkovits' Volume, With God in Hell'

rial day, his organization's
guest speaker, a rabbi, de-
clared that in view of what
happened in the concentra-
tion camps and the cre-
matoria, he could no longer
believe in God. His confes-
sion greatly upset the audi-
ence.

camps is tackled in this de-
eply moving volume by a
very prominent author. The
basis for the study and for
the affirmation of faith is
made to the author by a
leader of a national secular
movement. It is quoted in
the preface:
"On a Holocaust memo-

A warning that faith
should not be treated lightly
is the emphasis in "With
God in Hell: Judaism in the
Ghettoes and Death
Camps" by Eliezer Ber-
kovits (Sanhedrin Press).
The question of how one
can believe in God after
what happened in the death

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been so deeply perturbed
by the rabbi's statement.
After all, theirs was a
secular group. His an-
swer was: `Many of them
were concentration camp
survivors,' and for him
this was a sufficient ex-
planation.

"He meant to say that
these survivors, who might
well have lost their fatih as
a result of their experiences,
were angered by this 'suc-
cessful' American rabbi's
facile dismissal of the possi-
bility of faith in God."
They must have thought,
"This man, who grew up in
the most prosperous coun-
try on earth, who never
went hungry to bed, whose
life was, most probably,
never seriously threatened,
who never spent a day in a
ghetto or a concentration
camp, who never watched
the clouds of smoke over the
crematoria, he is lecturing
to us about loss of faith!
What does he know of the
anguish of the believing
Jew who loses his faith be-
cause he is so overwhelmed
by the inhumanity of man
that he can no longer be-
lieve!' "
Having quoted this
statement, Dr. Berkovits
comments:
"I began then to under-
stand that we have been
talking and writing about
faith lightly, without fully
appreciating what we were
about. Suddenly I saw be-
fore me tens of thousands of
Jews for whom Judaism was
the sustaining well of their
entire existence -- Jews for
whom the loss of faith was,
indeed, a greater disaster
than the loss of all their
worldly possessions.
"I could not help thinking
of the multitude of Jews
who, having lost their faith
as well as their lives in the
gas chambers, pleaded be-
fore the heavenly court:

" 'Almighty God! We
can forgive You every-
thing that was done to us
on Your polluted earth.
Only one thing we cannot
forgive: that You did not
look after our faith in
You; that You allowed
such trials to be heaped
upon our heads to which
our faith was unable to
stand up!'

"That survivors, who had
lost their faith, could be de-
eply hurt by the facile disbe-
lief of one completely alien
to their own experience
made one doubt that the
modern Western Jew knew
what he was talking about
when he spoke of belief or
disbelief.
"This made it a demand-
ing necessity to attempt to
unravel the mystery of faith
with the help of numerous
testimonies to its continued
manifestations, even in the
ghettos and the concentra-
tion camps. Forever pre-
occupied with the problem
of faith after the Holocaust,
many of us often overlook
the fact that in the ghettos
and concentration camps-
there were untold numbers
of Jews who to the very end

lived and died as Jews. We It is for this one that God
prayed when He created
know of many thousands
man.
who walked to the mass
graves and the gas cham- "Oh, the realization of My
dream,
of My longings.
bers with the dignity of an
all-conquering trust in the My chosen one, whom My
soul desires."
God of Israel and in the fu-
"Everyone of the exam-
ture of the Jewish people,
and with the superior ples presented here stands
knowledge of the ultimate for the conduct of thousands
defeat of the Nazi monster. of others and Katzenelson's
"Only by making the ef- praise of Shloniti Zlichovsky
fort of establishing em- is shared by many. The few
pathetic contact with the of whom we have heard are
authentic Jew of the ghettos a reflection of the continuity
and the camps dare we hope of Judaism in the most ex-
to gain some inkling of the treme conditions. Each one,
mystery of Jewish faith, and in his own most personal
a more significant under- life, reflects the eternity of
standing of the nature of Israel."
Among the leading
Judaism and of the historic
destiny of the Jewish Jewish philosophers, Dr.
Berkovits has a deep
people."

Drawing upon scores
of examples of faithful
resistance, of devotion to
the idea of indestructibil-
ity for the Jew, Dr. Bee-
kovits makes his book a
veritable encyclopedia of
martyrdom that is rooted
in defiance of the god-
lessness of the barbar-
ians. His "With God in
Hell" defines his own and
the Jewish principles of
faith in this declarative
proclamation of faith:

'The ghettos and concen-
tration camps that saw so
much demoralization and
human degradation were
also the holy of holies on
this earth. In those long and
dark years, when mankind
was silently standing by as
the most barbarous crime in
all human history was
willfully perpetrated by one
of the technologically most
advanced nations of the
world, it was in the ghettos
and the concentration
camps that the dignity of
man was safeguarded,
where the faith of man
reached its highest man-
ifestation, commensurate in
its greatness to the abysmal
depths of the moral bank-
ruptcy of Western civilize-
lion.-
"Yitszhak Katzenelson,
the great Jewish poet of the
Holocaust, immortalized
the walk of Shlomo
Zlichovsky from the prison
to the gallows. Katzenelson
calls upon heaven and earth
to sing that name, the name
of the man who redeemed
human dignity on earth.
The poet comforts this poor,
degraded globe of ours:
Sing!
Comfort ye,
Comfort ye, my earth,
Speak to the heart of the fal-
len one:
Hail unto thee, earth!
. . . graced and blessed . .
Who are all your heroes
compared to the one
hanged there in the mar-
ket place of Zdunska-
Wola?
God Himself,
smiles sadly,
wrapped in brilliance.
For Shlomo Zlichousky has
found favor in His eyes,
the man and the song.
He loves Ibis son,
Shlomo, the weak, the pale

One.

Who in all the earth is
mighty like he!

commitment to Judaism
and is a thorough in-
terpreter of Jewish
teachings. In this book he
deals with the Jewish
identifications and devo-
tions.

A chapter in this
noteworthy book on
Emunah, faith, belief, is a
philosophical classic. To
quote Dr. Berkovits:
"And these are my last
words to You, my God of
anger: nothing will avail
You! You have done every-
thing that I deny You, that I
shall not trust You. Yet, I
die as I lived — with rock-
like emunah in You.
"May He be praised
forever, the God of the dead,
the God of vengeance, the
God of truth and justice,
who will yet let His counte-
nance shine upon the world
and shake its foundations
by the power of His voice
. . .
"Shema Yisra'el! Hear, 0
Israel! The Eternal is our
God, the Eternal is One!
Into Thy hand I entrust my
spirit."

— P.S.

Diary Challenged

LONDON — David Irv-
ing, author of "Hitler's
War" which questioned
whether Hitler knew of the
mass killings of Jews, now
is questioning the authen-
ticity of "The Diary of Anne
Frank."
Irving has asked Anne's
father, Otto Frank, now of
Switzerland, to send a copy
of the original manuscript
for testa by an independent
firm of experts.

In 1978, a right-wing
West German attorney,
Ernst Roemer, accused
the now 90-year-old
Frank of "inventing"
Anne's diary. Frank sued
and a German court fined
Roemer.

Roemer appealed and the
court has asked experts to
authenticate the age of the
paper and ink of the original
manuscript and Anne's
handwriting.

Intellectual consistency
is far from being the first
want of our nature, and is
seldom a primary want in
minds of great persuasive,
as distinguished from con-
vincing power.

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