Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Thank you DovBear (Still fuming...) for fisking Toby Katz's horrendous comments about why the Holocaust occurred.

She said (in a comment thread): "Jews tried to leave Judaism but G-d reminded them that He does not allow that. When we try, there are fearful consequences, spelled out in the Torah. The same Torah also promises that our enemies will never be able to destroy us, that we are an eternal people. Individuals die but Klal Yisrael does not die." In a further comment in the same thread, she redoubled her obnoxiousness: "I don't understand those of you who claim to be orthodox & yet attack someone so vehemently for saying that the reform was a major factor in the Holocaust. The Torah at the end of Vakikra & Devorim say clearly that if the Jewish people don't follow the Torah they will be punished with terrible punishments. When the Second Temple was destroyed Chazal gave reasons to explain which sins were the primary cause. Likewise when Betar was destroyed. I think the same was done through out the generations when tragedy struck the Jewish people. In all of those tragedies the good & bad were punished together but that did not stop the Rabbis from attempting to attribute what sins were the primary cause of our punishment. If not following the Torah is the cause of our punishments, is it not logical that the reform movement should be on the top of that list? Certainly religious Jews were not perfect & I'm sure that they too contributed to the punishment, but the point remains that those who abandoned the Torah the most are the most culpable for G-d's decision in decreeing or allowing(per R' Berkovitz) the Holocaust."

Until I had read this discussion on DovBear, I didn't realize that this nonsense was still being propagated in Orthodox (or ultra-Orthodox) circles. When will Jews stop blaming other Jews for the Holocaust? How about blaming the true perpetrators, the Nazis, and their collaborators?

A good response comes from Cara, who replied to her: "Toby- Most of my mother's family was killed in Germany during the Holocaust. None lived in Berlin. Of those who survived and came to America, only my mother's children (and some distant cousins in NY) are still frum. Given my family background, I don't know what pains me more: to read the dreck you just wrote about how certain you are with regards to the reasons why the Holocaust happened the way it did, or to know that you believe what you wrote."


  1. "If not following the Torah is the cause of our punishments, is it not logical that the reform movement should be on the top of that list?"

    I'll just have to take personal responsibility here, but only with the further note that logically and obviously, those such as me who are more or less completely unobservant clearly bear the greatest level of fault for causing the Shoah. (Also, I support the Gaza withdrawal, and am therefore a Nazi.)

  2. The gemara brings down a story about a wealthy rabbi who's 200 barrels of wine turned into vinegar. When his friends came to comfort him on such a tragic event, they told him to examine his deeds. He then said to them, "Do you suspect me of doing something wrong?" He was confidant in himself that he hadn't.
    The reply is what got me.
    The other rabbi replied, "Do you suspect that God did something for no good reason?"
    Then they figured out something that he had done wrong. and thats the end of the story.

    It would be very painful to say that the Jews were not the cause of the holocaust. That would be saying that just randomly 6 million Jews were killed. I would not venture a guess as to the particular sin, nor would I dare to place the blame on anyone or any group.

    Look at the Purim story. We are told that it was because the Jews sinned. The only difference between that story and the holocaust is that in purim it ended by the Jews banding together and doing tshuva. But who was the first person who was going to be killed if they had not done tshuva? Mordechai! He was the leader of the generation and hadn't done anything wrong.

  3. Rock of Galilee, where do you get your information that the Jews in Persia were going to be killed because they had sinned? There's nothing in the book of Esther saying that. I think that the book does allude to the reason that Haman wanted to kill the Jews - it traces his ancestry back to Agag, the Amalekite king (Esther 3:1), and traces Mordecai's ancestry back to King Saul (Esther 2:5) - who refrained from killing Agag along with the other Amalekites when ordered to by the prophet Samuel (1 Sam. 15). These allusions support the idea that this was an ancient enmity, rekindled in Mordecai and Esther's time.

    I don't understand why it would be painful to say that the Jews were not the cause of the Holocaust. Why not say that the Nazis and their Jew-hatred were the cause of the Holocaust? Why besmirch the honor of God by saying that he determined to destroy his people through the evil Nazis? (Not to mention besmirching the honor of the Jews so horribly killed).

    I think it's useful to take a look at the book of Job, which in my opinion puts paid to the notion that people suffer only because they have personally sinned. See what God says to Job's "friends" at the end of the book: "I am incensed at you and your two friends, for you have not spoken the truth about Me as did My servant Job" (Job 42:7).

    Among other things, Job says these words to his friends, who tell him that he's suffering because he's sinned: "But you invent lies; all of you are quacks. If you would only keep quiet, it would be considered wisdom on your part" (Job 13:4-5). I commend the rest of chapter 13 to your consideration.