Sunday, April 15, 2007
Yom HaShoah -- Never again! Never again? (Darfur, Rwanda, ...)
Today is Yom HaShoah. That is, Holocaust Remembrance Day. The world over, are people thinking about it? Remembering? Recalling? Reliving? So few Holocaust survivors remain. And by that, I mean individuals directly impacted by the Nazi horrors. Not Joe Shmo who was enjoying a hot dog in Chicago on State Street while millions were dying in Europe. No. I'm talking the individuals of witness and loss.
Friday at Shabbat services, the sermon was brief, but impactful. The thing is, the rabbi (whom Ian and I weren't particularly fond of -- the shul has three rabbis and we enjoy the other two) related Yom HaShoah to this week's parshah, which includes the death of two of Aaron's sons by fire. The first part of the parshah discusses the "alien fire" that the two sons present on the alter, resulting in their consumption in flames at (most likely) the hands of G-d. Flames, fire and ash. "Shoah" appears in the Tanakh THREE times, and more or less means total destruction or devastation. The rabbi then read a very graphic, touching, horrific portion from Elie Wiesel's "Night." I read the book a few years ago and cried uncontrollably. Thinking about the book or even hearing pieces from it is devastating.
The section she read depicted the hanging of three Jewish prisoners -- one of which was a child. When he was hanged, he remained alive for nearly a half-hour, his weight too small to kill him quickly. He shook and wriggled and the prisoners were made to watch. A prisoner screamed "WHERE IS G-D?!" over and over. Elie Wiesel thought to himself that G-d was there, hanging before them. The rabbi continued on saying "Where was G-d? He was there, suffering alongside us."
But that wasn't enough. It's never enough just to say that, is it? I'd been in a very good mood throughout the evening. Ian and I sat in Argo, traveled North and headed to shul -- I was content. But this sermon shook me, putting me into a state of depression that continues on at this moment. I had two horrible nightmares that night and was depressed all day yesterday. The dissatisfaction from the rabbi saying that G-d was there, suffering ... was just so little, so sad. So unfulfilling. I don't command an answer, a reason, an explanation to the Shoah. It can't be karma, it can't be G-d's will, it can't be that it just happened.
Anyhow, the sadness won't let up. So on this Yom HaShoah, I beg for peace of mind.