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Holocaust Video Project with Dr. Kenneth Hanson

Aug 18, 2020

When it comes to modern approaches toward faith, God and spirituality, the Shoah has arguably changed everything. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once remarked: “We have all the reasons to give up … on man, on faith, and even on God. We have the reasons to do so, but we will not invoke them. And in spite of everything, we will go on believing.” Not only is it important to consider how the Jewish faith has been affected, post-Holocaust, but how observant Jews were impacted, with regard to their faith, in the midst of the tragedy. Elie Wiesel, for his part, was said to have put God on trial at Auschwitz. It will also be instructive to consider two Jewish leaders, both ultra-orthodox rabbis, who were victims of the Nazi genocide. Their perspectives (unlike post-Holocaust theology) provide a window on Jewish thought while events were unfolding. The reflections of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, who was residing in Warsaw at the outbreak of the war, were published in Israel in 1960 under the title Esh Kodesh. Taken as a whole, Rabbi Shapira’s book lays out a normative theology of suffering. Another ultra-orthodox rabbi, Yissachar Teichtal, was living in Budapest during the Nazi era. His theology is even more dramatic, rejecting all exilic philosophies, and developing a religious Zionist philosophy. If there is a to be found a merging of the two approaches, it is in the idea of “reconstruction,” on the one hand of the individual, and on the other, of the Jewish nation – the uniquely Jewish concept of tikkun.