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Indoctrination bells are ringing. A few days before the Holocaust Day, Israeli newspapers began their yearly rite of publishing articles explaining what that day is about. All articles are quite obvious, but one of them caught my attention. It didn’t state anything new. It didn’t throw light on an oversight. Simply, it summarized the Israeli official position as if it was written by a political police agent, including the religious and numerical aspects. The religious arguments made it irresistible.
Judy Montagu published an article called “In My Own Write: Where God stood in the Shoah” in the Jerusalem Post edition of April 6, 2010. Her main thesis is summarized in the following sentence: “God brought the Children of Israel safely out of Egypt; why, then, did He not show them the way around Hitler’s ovens?”
I won’t repeat here her arguments. Their systematic exposition is another symptom of the point I’m about to make at the end of this article. Instead, I want first to extract several positions expressed there. Despite being used there each time for a different argument they have something very frightening in common.
“’Look,’ said my friend. ‘If there is a God and He is the God of the Jewish people – all-knowing, all-powerful and able to intervene in history – then either He stood by and let the Holocaust happen, or He wanted it to happen. I refuse to believe in such a God.’”
“If nothing happens without God’s intention, he reasons, then the Shoah must have been part of that intention; and believing Jews, who consider God righteous and just, in order to comprehend the deaths of six million of their people, somehow have to blame the victims – otherwise why would they have suffered this horrible punishment?”
“’Too often,’ wrote Rabbi Reuven Hammer in a May 2000 op-ed in this newspaper, ‘we hear people… make a causative connection between the Shoah and the establishment of the State of Israel.’ They say the Shoah ‘is the price we had to pay for our national rebirth.’ The implication of this for religious people is that the Shoah was part of God’s plan for bringing His people back to its land…. ‘Personally,’ Hammer commented, ‘I would rather have no concept of God than one that makes Him such a monster.’”
“’In a Munich synagogue last year,’ wrote Rabbi Shlomo Riskin in May 2005, ‘there were about 100 people in shul; but only the cantor and I were praying. Everyone else was talking – not in the hushed tones in which neighbors generally speak during a prayer service, but loudly, even walking from place to place as they spoke, seemingly unaware of the prayer and Torah reading going on... ‘My host explained: ‘These Jews are all Holocaust survivors or children of Holocaust survivors. They’re angry at God, so they can’t, or won’t, speak to Him. They can’t live with God after the Holocaust, but neither can they live without Him. They do, however, speak to each other.’”
“Young American writer Shalom Auslander, raised in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Monsey, New York, says he was taught to respect – but above all to fear – ‘the Man Upstairs.’ When we obey the Man, he says, ‘He likes us,’ but when we don’t, ‘He hates us. Sometimes He tries to kill us.’”
“Then there’s the story – poignant even if apocryphal – about Jews in a concentration camp who decided to put God on trial because he had failed to keep his promise to the Jewish people. They argued back and forth, and reached a decision: God was guilty. … Then one participant said, ‘Now it’s time to pray Ma’ariv.’”
Of course, the author doesn’t touch the guilt of the Jewish leaders of the time. Neturei Karta’s website displays documents clarifying this point beyond doubts.
On the theological angle, the thing in common here is a very basic misunderstanding of God and religion. While still in Israel, I heard twice – each time from a different rabbi – an astounding statement. While answering the question if they believe in God, they claimed: “In order to be a good Jew, I need to fulfill the Mosaic Law. Nowhere there is stated that I should believe in God.” This type of semantic acrobatics is typical of the Talmud and the Pharisees. Most of the readers understanding Hebrew would probably smile at the rabbis’ answer, without comprehending the absurdity and horror of it. Theologically, Jews live in the Legalistic Trap: they believe there is something they should do in order to be redeemed by God.
A more careful and complete analysis of the scriptures reveals a different reality. God just asks for our faith. Redeemed by it, our good deeds will emerge naturally and give testimony of our special relation with God. For the sake of Judy Montagu and her readers, I want to quote two texts, one from the Old Testament and the other from the new one:
Isaiah 58:5-11 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
Matthew 25:31-46 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
Probably, most Israelis do not know either one of the passages. Probably, after reading them, they don’t comprehend them. Let me be brutal and use a language you understand. What God wants is that you show love and compassion to other humans. Instead, you have recently been defined as terrorists by the Human Rights Commission of the UN.
Do Pharisaic rabbis need further help with the definition of “love and compassion?”
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