Dei'ah Vedibur - Information &

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Shevat 5766 - February 15, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
On the Ways of the Holy Ones: Remembering the Holocaust

by Yisroel Spiegel

Part I

Last year marked sixty years since the Holocaust. The liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in which one and a half million people, the majority of them Jews, were brutally put to death is now marked in many places as a day of remembering the entire Holocaust. Rallies and memorial services are held yearly on the premises themselves, and in many places throughout the world.

There is a certain significance to the events of this kind with an international nature, especially upon the painful background of such a proliferation of renewed antisemitism in accelerated form in these past years. This is taking place, of all places, in European countries, those very countries which were victims of the vicious conquest of the Nazi war machine.

Antisemitic phenomena teach that the lessons of that murky period were not internalized and not learned but, on the contrary, hatred towards Judaism and Jews was not eradicated even in view of the dire consequences resulting from the sophisticated genocidal program of the Nazis. Added to this is the disgusting trend of Holocaust denial, as if it never took place or only occurred in minuscule proportions in relation to what really took place.

This actually corresponds to the gentile attitude towards Jews dating all the way back in history. It is perhaps futile to ask questions on a phenomenon which is obscure, unfathomable and enigmatic vis-a-vis normal human logic. Is this not the very time-worn axiom of "It is an immutable law: Eisov despises Yaakov"? A fact which cannot be changed.

But there is another part to it, which relates to the relationship of Judaism towards the traumatic events of the slaughter of European Jewry. And this is something which must be faced and dealt with.

At this point, one must make two distinctions in the reaction and relationship in the post-Holocaust period up till present times. One way is what the secular leadership and its followers have embraced which, to some degree, has dragged the religious Zionists after it. The other approach is that of chareidi Jewry, which continues to conduct itself along the beaten path blazed by its spiritual leaders, Torah sages and Chassidic leaders. Regardless of the differences between these latter leaders and their institutions, the single purpose before them is to unite and consolidate with those millions who were incinerated al kiddush Hashem, and to continue where they left off.


The chief secular spokesmen presided last year over the ceremony which took place in Auschwitz. We mean the President of the State of Israel, Moshe Katzav. He, like others, express the substance of their message as, "Never Again." In other words, after the establishment of a Jewish state, such a devastation as occurred in Auschwitz and other death camps can never be repeated.

Mr. Katzav also reiterated the foolish saying which has been stated in the past by other Israeli leaders: "The State of Israel came into being just too late for the six million . . . " In other words, had it existed at the time, during the Second World War, the Holocaust would never have taken place.

This is an idiotic statement since it has no grounding in reality.

Let us assume that it had already been in existence. Would it have been mightier than Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Belgium, Denmark and other countries, all of which were crushed with lightning speed by the Nazi stormtroopers? Would it have been difficult for the German army to reach Eretz Yisroel and conquer it without undue effort? Were not the troops of Field Marshal Rommel verily at the gates of the land and only by an open miracle was Hitler's scheme foiled in that he suddenly opted to stop their advance in the Middle East in favor of a surprise attack on Russia? What, then, is this inane talk about "if we had only been on the scene?"

Let us further presume that Rommel was disinclined to enter into battle with the Israeli army which was defending its country. How would this have simultaneously prevented the massacre of the six million Jews throughout Eastern and Western Europe? Would they have sent paratroopers there, naval commando forces, marines? Would they have had any chance whatsoever to penetrate there, to infiltrate forces with the capacity of stopping the satanic process of evicting Jews from their homes and herding them into ghettos, and from there, transporting them en masse to concentration camps, a process which was meticulously charted and masterminded with typical German thoroughness in every single detail?

Perhaps, thanks to the establishment of the State and the enactment of the Law of Return, all of those millions of Jews would have managed to immigrate to Eretz Yisroel and settle themselves, and thus be saved from the diabolical fangs of the Nazi beast? But this theory is likewise invalidated from beginning to end, for with the outbreak of the Second World War, there were some nine million Jews living in Europe, all of them targeted by the Nazis. In other words, in order to prevent the destruction, it would have been necessary to remove them all from Europe.

Would Eretz Yisroel, under the conditions prevailing at the time, been able to absorb such a massive refugee influx? Would Israel, even under the conditions prevailing today, be capable of such a thing? In those times, there were only four hundred thousand inhabitants living in Palestine. Let us suppose that thanks to the establishment of a Jewish state — depending when this would have happened — hundreds of thousands of Jews would have converged upon the country. Would they have been able to absorb them, and the millions more which the Nazis longed to remove from the face of the earth?


The attempt to present the State of Israel from this aspect as a potential for Jewish salvation had it only been in existence at the time is altogether vacuous.

Is it any better today? The world which was supposed to have learned a lesson from what happened during that period, did not become much wiser. In the course of time, after the Second World War, there have been some very severe examples of attempted genocide in places all over the globe where the `hands' of the leading world nations were powerless to avert, or assist the victims. And surely little Israel, with all of its military might, could not have prevented them.

The debate on this topic seems altogether pointless in light of the bitter fact that Jewish lives even within the precincts of the State are a far cry from being secure from the wicked machinations of our enemies. Even its secular leaders have expressed the view that the most dangerous place for Jews is here, of all places, more so than in any other country in the world. And reality seems to bear out that in Israel, more Jews have been killed just for being Jews than in any other place.

In the face of such harsh facts, the strident voices that mocked the millions of Jews who were `led like sheep to the slaughter' have been altogether muffled. As if it could have been prevented!

When eleven Israeli athletes were murdered in Munich in 1972, people began to understand how it was possible for people being held captive in the clutches of brutal murderers to be so helpless to act. How much more so when you are talking about a very powerful police state with diabolical intentions, a world power that conquered entire nations, almost overnight, in its sweeping war path.

The argument of "had there been a Jewish state at the time" is utterly ridiculous, as are the boastings of the nature of "Never again." All that remains is the very Jewish age-old reality of our people being like "a sheep among seventy wolves." It is with this fact of life which we must contend and maneuver.

We must follow the leadership of our Torah sages, first and foremost through a constant reinforcement of a Torah life, in study and practice. Our tradition has proven that so long as we guard ourselves in this aspect, our enemies are helpless to harm us or carry out their nefarious schemes against us.

"The voice is that of Yaakov." So long as the voice of Yaakov resounds in the halls of yeshivos and places of worship, the hands of Eisov are powerless, and vice versa; if the sound of Torah ceases, the enemy's hands become strengthened (Eichoh Rabbah, introduction, 3).

Similarly, "So long as Israel is not doing the will of Hashem, the nations of the world decrease its ranks and flog [punish] it" Ovos deR' Nosson 34).

End of Part I

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.