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Extreme Suffering, and Moral Dilemmas, Because of the German-made Shoah,

jan peczkis|Thursday, February 4, 2016

This is a collection, written by rabbis, of the unfolding Holocaust. The rabbis were from Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Poland, and other eastern European nations. Some of these accounts date from the Shoah itself, while others were written fairly soon after WWII. Unlike many modern Holocaust materials, these authors tell it like it was. They do not try to de-Germanize the Nazis.

The writings include timeless questions of why God allows evil, as well as the belief that God will avenge those that were murdered. They frequently quote from the Bible as well as Talmud. As an example of the latter, Reb David Reznik quoted Shabbos 21b, wherein something learned while one was a child is more entrenched in one's memory than something learned while an adult. (p. 373).

Modern Holocaust materials sometimes speak of “the empty sky over Auschwitz”, and of the six million murdered Jews “a sacrifice to God’s pitiless indifference.” However, these rabbinical writings are remarkably free of such rancor.


The following narrative is based on Rabbi Yaakov Avigdor.

In religious Judaism, there are three cardinal sins: idolatry, illicit relations, and murder. A Jew should rather die than commit these sins. On this basis, a Jew should not convert to Christianity even if it would save his life. (pp. 54-55).

Furthermore, during SHMAD (forced apostasy), a Jew is obligated to resist, to the point of martyrdom, all changes to even the most apparently minor aspects of religious practices—such as the changing of the color of one’s shoelaces. (p. 55). [The allusion is to Sanhedrin 74a-74b].

However, the Nazis were not forcing Jews to convert to Christianity. Just the opposite—they forbade conversion to Christianity on penalty of death, and imposed the death penalty on Jews who even pretended to convert to Christianity. (p. 56). For the rabbis to forbid conversion to Christianity would mean that they were supporting a Nazi edict! On the other hand, conversion to Christianity was a means of resisting the Germans.

In addition, since the Nazi action was not an act of SHMAD, the Jew was not obligated to observe every precept, of his religion, to the point of martyrdom. Instead, the saving of one’s life overrode all other religious considerations, save that of committing the three cardinal sins. On this basis, the rabbis ruled that conversion to Christianity was allowed under the circumstances. (p. 56). However, this still risked the transgressing of lesser forms of the three cardinal sins.


After WWII, Jews who served the Nazis were held morally responsible for their actions, and were brought before courts. Nowadays, the usual tendency is to suggest that the Jews were facing impossible choices under the Nazis, and so the usual standards of morality had ceased to function. In contrast, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Meisels found both considerations to be valid in the matter of Jewish-Nazi collaboration.

He comments, (quote) As is well known, the kapos were usually hard-hearted, wicked people, the lowest scum of the Jewish nation. In this case, however, there was some justice to their argument that they were responsible for supplying the exact number of children entrusted to their care. They were commanded to hand over the group to the SS in the evening and if one was missing, the kapo in charge would be taken instead, “a life for a life.” However, after much pressure and give-and-take with the desperate relatives, the kapos’ lust for money got the better of them. They eventually agreed to release some of the youths for large sums of ransom money, but then immediately seized other youngsters from the camp to make up the quota. (unquote). (p. 265).

However, some parents did not try to ransom their young. They adhered to the teaching of Sanhedrin 74a: If a murderer orders you to kill someone or else they will kill you, do not fulfill the order and kill the person, because who knows whose blood is redder? (p. 265)


Rabbi Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg indicates that he was a prisoner at Pawiak, in Nazi German-occupied Poland, where, according to his amazing statement, “all the prisoners were Jews, command of the prison was given to Polish killers.” (p. 458). He must have been in an extraterrestrial environment! As every knowledgeable person knows, that Pawiak prison located on planet Earth had mostly Polish prisoners, and they usually died horrible deaths there—at the hands of the Germans. To speak of “Polish command at Pawiak” is as grotesque as the Polonophobic canards of “Polish guards at Auschwitz” and "Polish death camps"!
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