Where was God in the Shoah?

In a recent article, Pope reaches out to Jews in personal e-mail to Jewish leader, Pope Francis made a gesture to Menachem Z. Rosensaft, who asked the question of my title in light of our six million murdered, and the specific murder of his brother. The pope asked him to remember, “First Kings 19:12 [“After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper”], the logic of that ‘gentle breeze’.” I wondered at absolution for earthquake and fire, and gratitude for the “breeze” which inspired a discussion with one I considered a learned and caring Jew. I do not want to be seen as cherry-picking his responses to me so encourage the interested reader use the hyperlink to read the discussion, between a learned religious Jew, and one more secular in outlook.  What follows is my recent response in our exchange:

As regards Tikun, Gavriel, at least for myself the reward is not in the result, but in the giving.

As regards the problem of God’s Time and Human Time, in this lies, it seems to me, Reb Rosensaft’s question, his doubt, his challenge that God reveal Himself.

In my blog I accuse Christianity of foundational Jew-hatred; foundational in its scriptures as I’ve already described. Hitler’s Final Solution was not pure self-delusion but the inheritance of two-thousand years of tradition: “the Jew” as Christ-killer, “the Jew” as fathered by and willing associate of Satan in (and here the rub) persecuting Christianity: “the Jews” as antichrist. And all this summarized in the very title of the Holocaust as, the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem. Wherefrom this “Jewish Problem”?

That Germany and the West entire are implicated in achieving that goal does not make the goal a departure because secular. It is an inheritance. The curse is eternal as described, for example, in Matthew 27:25 (only the most dramatic of the gospel charges), deeply ingrained in “western civilization.”

And so, to dismiss the Rosensaft’s doubt and challenge as resulting from his limitation to Human Time is to miss the point of his loss, of human pain surviving in the only time we are aware of. Which returns us to the original question: How can a caring and omniscient and omnipotent God omnipresent stand by and observe the suffering of that mother from whose arms that infant is torn; that mother ordered to choose between two children the promise being the second will survive (this is recorded, and of course all died. Just a case of “schadenfreude”). To simply dismiss such acts and their horrific impact on the victim as all will be well in God’s Time is no consolation for we, the living.

About the Author
David made aliya in 1960 and has been active in Jewish issues since. He was a regional director for JNF in New York, created JUDAC, Jews United to Defend the Auschwitz Cemetery during that controversy; at the request of Jonathan Pollard created and led Justice for the Pollards in 1989.