Some have tried to explain the Holocaust, the Nazi attempt to industrially exterminate the Jewish People, and the betrayal by most bystanders who did little to stop it. Attempts to make sense of this sad peak of genocide have so far failed. They just make people angry. I won’t even try.
However, there is a way around this. We can ask ourselves: What could this atrocity teach us? That doesn’t justify it happening. It doesn’t say that all is for the best. But it still lets this outrage not go to waste. Many things can be understood from it! This is what I learn from it:
Gentiles and Jews
1. It should not have happened.
2. This is how low humans can sink. Don’t underestimate our Evil.
3. Most of the world has a serious problem with the Jews. Denial of that, in the end, can only lead to denying Jews the right to live.
4. The Holocaust was a failure and humiliation of Gentiles, not Jews.
5. Gentiles’ lives should show that they won’t let this happen again.
6. Even after the Holocaust, most nations wanted nothing to do with the Jews, and voted for having them move to their own country.
7. The essence of hatred for Jews is not hatred but rather a lack of gratitude for what Jews have given the world and jealousy.
8. There is no alternative but to honor the Jews, stand with them learn from them and ask them to teach morality.
Jews and Gentiles
9. It shows in a negative way (there are positive examples) that the Jewish People is fundamentally different from all other Peoples.
10. It’s over – something to be grateful for. Even a (perceived) threat of a second Holocaust is better than being in the first one.
11. If Jew haters did not distinguish between religious and secular Jews, how much more should we not.
12. It is better to live a very short time in great pain than never to have lived at all.
13. How glorious the survivors who after witnessing such horrors did not give up on promoting a better world and on raising kids.
14. After 2000 years of silence, the Jews are back in the limelight.
15. Nothing can stop the Jews. We are blessed more than anyone.
16. Chosen does not mean favored. Rather, it’s: extra gifted, with as consequence: extra responsible. Its extra reward comes later.
17. It is better to be persecuted than to be persecuting.
18. Never forget to honor the ones murdered by dancing and singing as if it never happened.
19. Our heroism credits us; if we can’t stand G^d anymore, we’re excused.
20. G^d loves us so much that He would not let the worst in human history be done by Jews. He chose us because we won’t.
21. Anger at G-d is not denying Him. Denial is a lack of anger: It just happened to happen. Anger is still a form of relating.
22. All human failure is foreseen by G^d. He lets it all happen as a wake-up call of how hard we still must work to return to Paradise.
23. The hardest to see G^d’s Hand is not when things go really bad. The hardest it is when all is relative quiet and calm, like now.
24. Evil and pain can enhance our merit. Doing good deeds despite strain, are a 1000 times more meritorious than without pain. Improving ourselves and repenting are more valuable when they aim to remove Evil, than we could gain in a world without pain.
25. It made clear that there is such a thing as war crimes, crimes against humanity. Not all is allowed in even such a disaster as war.
26. It is a mistake to learn our deepest morality only from a calamity. It is better also to learn wisdom from things that went well.
G^d doesn’t ask or need our approval. He doesn’t want us to suffer. He wants us to learn. And that is exactly what we did here. And He wants us to improve ourselves and the world around us, together with Him. Deep learning must lead to becoming better people. That’s all we’re alive for.
Disclaimer: My four grandparents were gassed in Auschwitz as part of the Holocaust. My two parents survived the Dutch Camp Westerbork.