"We are closer to G-d when we are asking the questions, than when we think we have the answers" Heschel

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Questions on Yom Ha'shoah

FNQ – questions for the week

Welcome back. I hope you all had a wonderful Pesach. Mine was incredibly meaningful. How could a chag spent with family and friends in Jerusalem not be. Now that vacation is over it is time to get back to work which for me means a return to the wonderful world of thought provoking questions. For my first two installments I will be discussing the special days of Yom Ha'shoa, (Holocaust Memorial day), Yom Hazikaron (Israel's Memorial Day for fallen soldiers) and Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel's independence day).

The thought of asking questions about the Holocaust is a daunting one. But we must ask for to remain silent is to be aloof and distant which is unacceptable when faced with the nightmare of the 6,000,000. We ask to connect to their holy memory. We ask so taht the Master of the Universe will know we haven't forgotten and the pain is still real. The questions may be old but our feelings when asking them must be as one who just heard of the horrific tragedy. Only in this way can we have any hope to connect to the power of the day. Come back (hopefully tomorrow) when I will try and give my thoughts (there are no answers) on some of these questions.

  1. Assuming that the Holocaust directly resulted in the creation of the The State of Israel, was it worth it?

  2. Is it appropriate to find comfort in the numerous stories of miraculous salvation and superhuman sacrifice or is this merely an attempt to run from the pain?

  3. Is the phrase “never again” an important idea that expresses our commitment to looking after fellow Jews or is a futile attempt to reassure ourselves that with our tanks and warplanes we, not G-d, are now in control?

  4. Is it shameful to wonder why our brothers and sisters (for the most part) went like sheep to the slaughter?

  5. Have you ever stopped to think what the Jewish people and the world would look like had the 6,000,000 not been killed? If you haven't you can not possibly feel the pain of this day.
What do you think?

Binyamin – always looking for a good question


  1. Why is being silent a sign of weakness? Silence when it comes to tragedy is a sign of great strength as represented by Aharon HaKohen when his sons were killed. And he was praised for his reaction! It must be that Aharon's silence was a deep level of faith in the Almighty. In addition, silence, as emphasized by Chazal in Pirkai Avot and elsewhere, is among the most admirable modes of conduct. I understand the need to ask when it comes to the Holocaust, but in my opinion it's a lower level of Avodat Hashem and emuna Ba"Hashem then silence is.

  2. This comment needs a response. I agree that the silence of Aharon Hakohen was a meritorious act; however, to compare his silence to silence in response to the Holocaust or any tragedy for that matter is very difficult. The greatness of Aharon's silence was in that he felt the incredible pain of losing two children and was able to overcome that pain because he realized that at that moment as the mishkan was being completed it was not the appropriate time to seek consolation or ask why. To truly feel the pain and still be in control of our emotions to the extent that we are able to keep them in check where necessary is certainly a sign of spiritual greatness. His silence was great because he really wanted to speak. But if we are silent, if we don't ask why because we aren't all that bothered or troubled by the horror of the Holocaust this silence is not spiritual greatness but moral apathy. I ask the questions because I am searching to feel and connect with the pain. Perhaps after I accomplish that I will be able to move to the next stage of va'yidom Aharon.