He Who Decrees
Translated an d Adapted by Chaya Sara Ben Shachar
Six million. Too large a number to contemplate. Too large a number to grasp.
All gone. Slaughtered by the Nazi hand.
"Where were the Jews? How could they go like sheep to the slaughter?" Asks the civilized world these days. "Why didn't anyone resist?"
Indeed, where were we? Where was everyone? How could a world full of enlightened people allow such barbaric crimes to take place? How could a madman, lacking formal education, persuade a country of sixty-two million people to perform such atrocities?
The questions are not new. Moshe asks the very same thing over three thousand years ago, "How can one [person] pursue a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight?..." (Deutoronomy 32:30).
And the answer? In that very same verse, "…their [Mighty] Rock has sold them out, and the Lord has given them over"(Ibid).
There is Someone behind it all. Someone conducting. Someone pulling the strings. Deciding who shall live and who shall die. Turning civilized people into barbarians.
An Upper Hand. It simply makes no sense for Hitler to have succeeded otherwise. For a nation of Jews to put up barely any resistance goes against the very grain of human nature. And as for the German people? How else could they have accepted the craziness of Mein Kampf? How else could they have gone along with the horrible "final solution"?
The questions are so strong, so fraught with emotion and incomprehension that they have spilled over to the non-Jewish world as well. University professors have been hypothesizing about it for decades and world history teacher, Ron Jones, even proposes an answer in a movie entitled "The Wave".
And yes, there may be rational ways of explaining some aspects of the holocaust: the way the human psyche works, the incredible effects of propaganda... But the tragedy is so much bigger than all of that. The numbers are so great. Intellect alone cannot grasp the magnitude of it all. It's too much for the human brain to understand.
And so there is faith, something bigger than intellect. Belief. Belief in a Higher Being. The belief that humans alone aren't responsible for all of the suffering in the world. One maniacal leader couldn't have generated such a following if He hadn’t decreed it. And there would have been far, far greater resistance if He had so wanted it.
"…the Lord has given them over." For reasons known only to Him, He chose for tragedy to befall the Jewish people.
Our questions remain, but sometimes it has to be enough to know that He has the answers.