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Holocaust Responses- Week 1-6 or Units 1-5.docx

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Jewish Studies
JS 203
Dr.Wayne Allen

Week 1: Lecture Topic- Introduction In the Wrath of God, the word Holocaust is not used because of all the baggage it carries If you used the term 'Holocaust', it could be identified as a object that was sacrificed and entirely burned (in the King James Version of the Bible) Of the Jewish victims, there were still survivors. Rabbi Huntner does not like the term "shoah" because it is not percise enough. Shoah means catastrophe which he believes is not a strong enough word 'Hurban' is preferred 586 BCE: the first Hurban; the Babylonians sent the Jewish nation into exile 70 How did Jews of the past think of these events? If God is all powerful, why is he letting these things happen to me? Theodicy: justifying God in the face of evil himself how can an all good and all powerful God let bad things happen? Why is it that good people suffer? When it comes to innocent people them we have a sociological problem If you think suffering is the norm, then you do not ask this question Why do bad things happen? (the Jews believe) People suffer because of their sins; become "food for your enemies" (Leviticus and Deuteronomy); "we cause of our sins, we were exiled from our land", they brought it on themselves by not obeying God  "There's no death without sin and not suffering without transgression"  Automatically then when we see someone suffering, we assuming that they have done something wrong The Book of Job 7 sons, 3 daughters One of the wealthiest men of the East Job is not Jewish, but he is a man of intense religion condition; made regular sacrifices on behalf of his children Job was scared that while his children were under the influence of alcohol, they would "Blaspheme " God so Job would go to the temple and pray Job believes God is blameless and good Satan insists that without God's blessing, he would blaspheme God  If God did not protect him, Satan believes Job would not stay faithful to God  God agrees that Satan can go ahead but he cant not physically hurt Job  Flocks died, camels stolen, camel hearers murders, children all died when building collapse  Satan then tells God that he should be allowed to hurt him but not kill him Job's wife told him to blaspheme God, so he would be killed and die Job's friends tell him that he must have done something wrong  Job can not think of anything he has done wrong that would cause this suffering  Job examined everything he has done and still has no answer to why this is happening to him Only God can be certain of who is sinless; Job could not be completely thorough No one can have the knowledge God has therefore no one can claim to challenge the actions of God In the end:  Gets back all he had and more; 10 more children, and died after 140 years and was "content" Questions;  Why did his children have to died for a bet?  God's ways are beyond human comprehension; God grasps the "bigger picture" Two alternatives: made by Rabbis in the 3 &4th century  If you fall to give the right amount of study to the Jewish tradition, you will suffer  If you are suffering, God must love you. Because "God loves to the afflict the righteous" Jewish responses to the Holocaust "we deserve it" or "its just a sign that God loves us" Sin: if one of the 613 rules were broken Sin is a religious term not a political term Why these are inadequate?? (what the prof believes) You can not punish children, minors are not responsible for these deeds therefore the children that were killed in the Holocaust were not possibly able to sin Many of the adults lived totally devote lives as a Jew Just because they did minor things, that does not mean the punishment will be death Who lived and who died was totally unpredictable Silence is a natural reaction to hurt Book of Kings Elijah never died, instead God came down and carried him to heaven in a burning chariot Holocaust has not been the only genocide The scope of the Holocaust The holocaust is different from other genocides because  The killing of the Jewish people was of the three supreme national goals  Needed massive resources to order to go through with it  Did not use train for military which they were supposed to be used for but were used to transport the Jews  Everything was mobilized to achieve this The destruction of the Jewish people was not done for material interest  The Jews could not bribe their way out of it (especially not after 1942)  Conversion would have been no help  If you were 1/16 Jewish, you were too be killed  The Germans were not threatened by the Jews Proceeded by the de-humanization of the Jews; so they were exterminated  The Nazi were to make sure that this process would proceed the killing  6 million Jewish victims (1/2-1/3 of the world's population of Jews)  Only now is the world population of Jews approaching what the world population was in 1939  Its not just the numbers, its how communities were also completely wiped out Initial Response: Silence Wednesday, January 16, 2013 11:55 AM Readings:  Religious thinkers were unable to respond to the catastrophe from a faith standpoint; they were intellectually paralyzed  A Plea for the Dead o Jews seem to be held responsible for everything: famines, death of Jesus, unemployment o Job never understood his own tragedy o "perhaps that's the gift which God gave to man: it prevents him from understanding everything, thus saving him from madness, or from suicide" o At Auschwitz, the sacrifices were without point, without faith, without divine inspiration o When people asked the witnesses/survivors why they dint attack or why they didnt resist, they all stated the same thing... "You cannot understand. Anyone who was not there cannot imagine it." o Why did the rest of the world do nothing?? How did they think this was okay? Lectures:  Leviticus o Moses' brother Aaron, had he two sons die before his eyes and he did not say anything in response to this (God sent fire from heaven and killed them) Silence  The shock of the event, deprives us from the will to react  It is so shockingly cruel we almost pretend that we never heard it; like a reflect unable to work because of shock o Silence become a natural reaction  The events of the Holocaust or Shoa, are so incomprehensible that you don't know what to say o We cant answer 'why'. o We have all the information, yet it still makes no sense. Therefore there is silence. o You have to stay silent because any answer is doomed to failure because o The Hebrew translation of the word "passover" could be "mouth talking" which means that some things are meant to be kept silent  Silence is also known as a defence mechanism (Beddleheim) o We dont have to come to terms with such things that are so horrifying; o 1944: the Nazis and their supporters were engaged in activities that defied our imagination  Defending ourselves against this... We were silent  "Our minds prefer to reject the truth"- Judah Magnus; since it is incomprehensible, we don't want to think about it o Spring 1945: liberation of the concentration camps  Silence is a way of reacting o Not a pause or relay of reaction; it was a purposeful reaction o 1965- "Play for the Dead" a play. He is still in shock of what when on and he even went through it at the age of 15 o Since he has nothing to say, the result is silence o Kapo- a Jewish guard o No person's blood is redder than anyone else's- no one should die over someone else o "Silence is the price we own to the victims"  Silence is not just a reaction, its a program o To say anything would only embarrasses us...  Silence- shame avoidance o Blame the victims/ humiliate the dead o From the perspective of others... They remain silent. o Affirmation of the sacred of the dead o They all knew about it but they didn't want to talk about it because it brings back memories that we don't want to bring up  Rabbi Aaron Wright o Killed in Auchwicht o Speaking in 1943 o He believes there is an answer but he does not want to answer it o "we are unable to answer these people, but there will be a time when the answer may be given. Till then we will keep our mouths closed." o The glory of the redemption that awaits us and then we will look back and see that this was all a passing in time. So don't say something you will regret.  He cant say there is a reason for it because he cant see that there is The word genocide was first used in 1943. Jeremiah 5:18 o Promises that Israel will never die; even though it seems like it after the Holocaust  A political response for silence o Repression: o The beginning of the Cold War  It was economic, social, political but not military  Germany became an alli of the Western powers  Silence is a myth o If you understand it as a program, silence still remains a response o If you understand it as a moral lapse of the generation that wanted to avoid talking about the Shoah for any of the reasons above, then the myth of silence has been expose as false o Between 1945 till 1956, there was nothing written about the Holocaust (Shoah)
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