A. No doubt, the horrifying horrors of the Holocaust and the magnitude of its devastation leaves much questioning about why bad things happen to good people, and where was G-d, among other such legitimate and oft-asked questions.
But here’s something to think about, and for whatever reason isn’t spoken of enough: Think of Holocaust survivor resilience. We did a whole TorahTues class on this, with a title borrowed from President Barack Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope”.
These are people who lost entire families, they were robbed of their youth, their education and all worldly possessions. Many of their relatives, friends and entire communities were brutally wiped out.
Imagine starting life from scratch as a deeply scarred teenager or young adult, without a penny to your name, no family support, you don’t even speak the language, never mind having little or no education. Think of what tremendous inner strength it must have taken to pick yourself up like that, and not only survive, but to thrive and succeed. A vast majority of Holocaust survivors built new lives, they married, had children, established businesses or careers, and gave back to their communities. Many became communal leaders and religious leaders. Their many accomplishments would be laudable, even if they were ordinary citizens raised in regular schools with average families. Now consider all the horror, devastation and tremendous loss they went through – and it didn’t keep them back!
Studies have shown than the Holocaust had little effect on the faith or observance of Holocaust survivors. It’s remarkable and hard to imagine, but most of those who had faith in G-d in 1939, by and large, the same Jews had faith (shaken, but intact) in 1945.
This probably won’t answer your question on a philosophical or academic level, but next time we wonder about moving forward or upward 70 years after the Holocaust because of it, think again about all the people who actually lived through it, and lost so much in it, and yet it did not keep them back. It shouldn’t hold us back either.