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Jewish Insight of Holocaust Essay

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Holocaust, the extermination of Jews from the European land was the example of brutality and viciousness of the Nazi Germany. The post holocaust era was one of the remarkable eras in the Jewish history. It did not only jolt the Jewish history but also the world history. In order to interpret the results different Jewish responses came out and evaluated the issue according to their personal psychological aspect.

About 80,000 survivors of the holocaust immigrated to the United States only between the years 1945 and 1952. On one hand, they had to complete the thorny task of rebuilding their demolished lives and on the other hand they were trying hard to get back the previous normal state of their retarded minds which got hurt after the terrible incident.

Meanwhile, many historians were observing the situation critically and wanted to present their ideas about the Holocaust and the injustice of the Nazi Germany. All the Jewish responses are of course negative and sour but they also differ with respect to their difference in vision which makes us to mention those evaluations in this paper. We can find a great deal of literature about the evaluation of Holocaust by different Jewish historians and by which we will be able to present our evaluation about the matter.

In this paper, we will be discussing the evaluation of two Jewish historians which are considered as the masters of the Holocaust studies on their part respectively. We are going to elaborate the ideas of the post Holocaust era by the two famous historians Richard L. Rubenstein and Emil Ludwig Fackenheim. Rubenstein is regarded as one of the excellent religious writers of the past. He was an educator and an eminent writer in the American Jewish community. His study related to the Holocaust studies is commendable[1].

On the other hand, if we talk about the Fackenheim’s contribution towards the Holocaust study we can say that his contributions should be noted. He considered Holocaust as the one incident who brought a remarkable change in the Jewish history[2]. Both the writers have elaborated their ideas in a different way but on few points they also agree with each other. We are going to discuss the perceptions and ideas of both the writers and then we will derive our evaluation[3].

If we talk about Rubenstein than he was the one writer who had not experience the Holocaust but the issue compelled him to write about it. He has observed the incident religiously. In his book “After Auschwitz” Rubenstein has in a way negotiated about the Jewish concept of religion in which people are observed by God and He will decide the punishment and reward of their sins or good deeds. He said that the Holocaust event has nothing to do with the personal doings of the Jews.

The incident cannot be considered as the negative reaction of Jewish sins and Hitler cannot be regarded as their Lord who is observing their acts and is ready to punish them. Rubenstein strongly oppose the Jewish ideology. He wants them not to follow such belief. This was actually due to His past bitter experiences of meeting Ruth Gruber (An American journalist) and of course the drastic Holocaust incident[4].

After the destructive incident of Holocaust which ruined the lives of many Jews, Rubenstein was cleared about his ideas that Jews should no longer worship their Gods because in his opinion there is nothing named as God. God is not present around the people. If He did than he could not allow the Nazis to slaughter His innocent people, if God was there He could not bear the mayhem in those horrifying concentration camps and if God was there He was not treating the people like the Nazis did.

Further he said that the Jews should forget about all their religious lives and the exchange of their prayers with their God because it is totally useless to worship a thing which does not exist[5]. He considered that God is dead and He is not there for the people so people are making them fools if they are thinking that someone is listening to them.

By the realization of the Protestant’s Death-of-God movement Rubenstein was more confirmed and convinced about his thinking that God does not exist. But originally it does not mean that God is not present[6]. It was just a hyperbolic statement by those who cannot accept the truth of God. They have basically overstated the matter that they don’t believe in God just to convince people and draw their attention towards their view.

The people should not be disappointed by the Rubenstein’s ideology about the existence of God. He just wants to depict the thought that if people want to understand the horrifying incident of Holocaust than they must realize his ideology. Furthermore, Rubenstein stated that Jews will have to rebuild their ethics. They will have to establish a thought which will connect them with their land. He suggested that the Jews should continue to worship nature and they should not carry on the old preaching.

However, most of the Jews preferred not to get back to Israel as many were killed during the migration towards Poland. Many Jews lost their faith too and adopted secular Judaism rather than converting themselves to any other religion. Thus, Rubenstein’s views about the existence of God were only due to his numerous confrontations with Him in the past so nobody should set any expectation from him as he is only conveying his thoughts[7].

The other side of the view is given by Emil L.Fackenheim who has a little bit same idea that the Holocaust event should not be considered as the punishment of Jewish sins. But his concepts differ immensely when he defines his idea about the existence of God. Basically Fackenheim has a positive sight. He visualizes the Holocaust in an optimistic manner. He said that although Jews had faced problems but they also fought with the difficulties.

Also he mentioned his believe that God is Omni-potent and Omni-present. He sees his people and help them too when they are in trouble. Fackenheim was of the view that God is present and it is up to the believer that he/she accepts His presence or not. Fackenheim also believed that many people will deny his saying by saying that if God was there than why He could not stop the barbarism which was going on in the camps but he has elaborated this in a different and positive way.

He said that if we can assume God’s presence on the Mount Sinai then why we can’t consider His presence in those camps? The Jews had served as the personification of gallantry and bravery in that throbbing time. Despite of the butchery carried on in those concentration camps the Jews continued their prayer life and religious practices. They set the example of patience and humanity by their courageous behavior. So, in this way they lived like heroes and died with dignity[8].

This portrays that after the 613 commandments given to the Jews in Torah this example of grit appeared to be the new 614th commandment for the Jews which was exposed to the innocent people in those camps by God. By having a precise over view on Fackenheim’s ideology of the Holocaust we can conclude that he was of the view that Jews should have to remember all the miseries, all the sorrows and all the pains they suffered in those camps during the Holocaust.

They should learn this lesson that one day they will be taking the revenge of the destruction of precious lives of their people. If the Jews will not be able to fight and negotiate than they cannot be considered as Jews. They should not lose the dignity and self-esteem. So, they must proud of what they did[9].

In short, both the historians have presented the Holocaust incident on the basis of religion. They differ in ideas but the level of analysis is similar. They have given clarifications about Holocaust by presenting the conflict in ideas about the existence of God. They have tried to compare the theory of Holocaust to the idea of God’s existence.

One of the theologies supports the idea that God is dead and he is nowhere. While the other theology tries to evident the divine presence of God by the courage of Jewish people who were surviving in those brutal camps.

They have basically focused a single side but also they have given the positive and negative sides of the matter. Basically the writers have tried to completely clarify their point of view and also have convinced people to an extent but if have to evaluate their theologies than I must say that they have only mentioned their thoughts about the religion, their thoughts about the presence of God not the Holocaust.

Actually they wanted to impose their religious concept about the existence of God on people so they took the example of Holocaust incident which is wrong. Because by this one of the writers has shown that he has a bad approach of emphasizing the people emotionally.

He has done this just to compel the people towards his thoughts due to the fact that in the past he had some awful experiences by which he drew himself towards the thought that God is nowhere. Similarly on the other hand Fackenheim although has not given the negative idea infect he showed a positive aspect related to the ideology of Death-of-God but he is basically negating the idea of Rubenstein and has only talked about the religious aspect[10].

But if I have to make a choice between two of the theologies on the basis of perspectives only than I will obviously second the Fackenheim’s perspective because he has a positive and sensible thought about the incident. He has talked about the optimistic view that God has surely a divine presence on Earth.

He is there for His people whether anyone accepts this or not. He has also specified a constructive view by saying that the presence of Jewish courage, dignity and bravery was evident of the presence of God as God provided them that zeal and enthusiasm to fight for their lives.

Fackenheim has elaborated this thought and his emphasize was on the fact that if can assume the presence of God and worship Him throughout our lives than why we cannot accept His presence on those camps. We know it really well that in our day to day life we experience different evidences about the presence of God and various acts which cannot be done by an ordinary person than why we raise questions over this. It’s noticeable and obvious[11].

So, it is cleared that God is present and He is there to see the on doings of His people. Also, the incident of Holocaust tells about the celestial existence of God by the Jewish acts of heroism which was a God gifted aspect of Jews at the time of sufferings. So, people should realize that answers can be easily given to the questions on presence of God.

We don’t need to look into complications because it is cleared from the evidences we get in our daily lives. If God was not there with His people in those camps then the Jews could not have survived to such extent. They could not be able to face those difficulties if they were not provided by the faith in God. Their ultimate faith and loyalty to their God is the brilliant example of their valor.

The Jews have basically showed the world that they have these strong basis and faith in the religion which made them to live like heroes and die like a martyrs. Various scholars, historians and writers have conflicted in their ideas of religion and Holocaust. Many failed in conveying their views and many got able to clarify themselves but among the two of the historians, Fackenheim’s idea was close to the originality.

Implications of understanding Judaism as more concerned with Orthodox than Orthopraxis:

The two terms Orthodox and Orthopraxis define two ideas: Firm Belief and Good, Effective Behavior. Orthodox is derived from Greek words “orthos” means Truthful and “doxa” means Belief. While on the other hand Orthopraxis is the other word which is derived from the combination of “ortho” as previously defined as Truthful and “praxis” means Behavior[12].

There has been a number of literature regarding the Orthodox and Orthopraxis in the western ideology in which the matter is supposed to be highlighted between Christians and Jews[13]

The Christians support the Orthodox’s camp while Jews are related to the camp of Orthopraxis. Christians are of the view that firm Belief in anything can lead them to the top. While, Jews have the instinct that behavior and actions are very necessary in every situation[14]. Christians and Jews have depicted this in many occasions.

If we want to know about the implications of understanding Judaism then we will come to know that Jews have always followed their idea of Orthopraxis. We can take example of the Holocaust incident when Jews were in a deep chaos. They had shown their support to the idea of positive actions and behavior by fighting with the terrible situation in an historic way[15]

Bibliography

Braiterman, Z. “(God) After Auschwitz” [1998] Princeton University Press. Web.

Edwards, J. “Orthodox c.”. Web.

Gray, J. “On Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy”. Web.

Irvine, A. “Liberation Theology in Late Modernity: An Argument for a Symbolic Approach” [2011] Journal of American Academy of Religion , 1.

Jackson, T. “The priority of love: Christian charity and social justice” [2003] Princeton University Press.

Morgan, M. “13 Emil Fackenheim, the Holocaust, and Philosophy” [2011]. Web.

Olachea, P. “A Dangerous Separation” [2009]. Web.

Patterson, D. “Emil L. Fackenheim: a Jewish philosopher’s response to the Holocaust” [2008] New York: Syracuse University Press.

Ratzinger, C. “Eucharist, Communion And Solidarity” [2002]. Web.

Rubenstein, R. “Richard Rubenstein” [2011] Worldlingo. Web.

Rubenstein, R. “Richard Rubenstein’s Theology on Holocaust” [2009]. Web.

Schwartzberg, S. “” [2010]. Web.

Time. “Theology: The God Is Dead Movement” Time. Web.

Wallaston, I. “The Possibility and Plausibility of Divine Abusiveness Fackenheim, E.” [2000]. Web.

Footnotes

  1. Rubenstein, R. “Richard Rubenstein” [2011] Worldlingo.
  2. Morgan, M. “13 Emil Fackenheim, the Holocaust, and Philosophy”.
  3. Braiterman, Z. “(God) After Auschwitz” [1998] Princeton University Press.
  4. Schwartzberg, S. “A Century of Recording and Making History” [2010].
  5. Time. “Theology: The God Is Dead Movement” Time.
  6. Rubenstein, R. “Richard Rubenstein’s Theology on Holocaust” [2009].
  7. Patterson, D. “Emil L. Fackenheim: a Jewish philosopher’s response to the Holocaust” [2008] New York: Syracuse University Press.
  8. Jackson, T. “The priority of love: Christian charity and social justice” [2003] Princeton University Press.
  9. Wallaston, I. “The Possibility and Plausibility of Divine Abusiveness Fackenheim, E.” [2000].
  10. Irvine, A. “Liberation Theology in Late Modernity: An Argument for a Symbolic Approach” [2011] Journal of American Academy of Religion , 1.
  11. [5]
  12. Olachea, P. “A Dangerous Separation” [2009].
  13. Ratzinger, C. “Eucharist, Communion And Solidarity” [2002].
  14. Gray, J. “On Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy” [2007].
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