Doesn't the fact that the Holocaust happened and the world stood by silently mean that Jews have a right to govern themselves?

02/04/07

Dear Rabbi,

It appears that "Jews Against Zionism" does not reject that the holocaust was a systematic execution of a race; facts and numbers being irrelevant to this claim. Some, many, a majority, or the whole world stood by and allowed this to happen. Though this might sound controversial, the mass execution was very different than most others; the Jews were civilized and functioning members of society. As such, there is little room to claim that the holocaust was a result of anything OTHER than race. Countries would not accept the Jewish people into their homeland. This was hardly a question of religious differences; this was a race issue.

If Jewish people can be forced out of countries systematically, and if Jewish people are not allowed into other countries, than where should they live?

This is ignoring the fact that many other nations that have not been systematically executed in a period of global civility have their own countries. The Jewish people were global citizens, contributing to society, and that did not matter. The invisible hand of economics and greed, which one can consider the only thing holding many people back from chaos, did not stop this tragedy.

At this point, I think this qualifies the Jewish people's right to self-governance; whether or not this means a homeland in itself..

The reason that I would think Israel is appropriate was because it was historically the Jewish people's land anyways. A right of passage. Or you could just consider it a gift from the world for their mistakes and injustices of the holocaust against the Jewish people; so never again would a Jewish person be left to the morality of the masses. For the same reason there is a constitution in the United States to protect inalienable rights, that is the reason why the Jewish people need to have a place where they are welcome.

What are the objections from your organization to my logic?

Let it be known that I would be more than happy to be convinced counter to my initial observations.

Thanks,
Leslie Baum

Hello Leslie Baum and thank you for your letter. You have a Jewish name but I don't know whether you are religiously observant or not. In any case, your analysis of anti-Semitism and Jewish history fails to take into account the fact that G-d has a plan for Jewish history, He is watching over His people and He will eventually redeem them. The exile, which began with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 69 of the Common Era, was planned by G-d for many reasons. One reason is as atonement for the sins of the Jewish people; another reason is so that the Jewish people could spread around the world and spread the Divine truth, and attract converts. Another reason is to sift out the bad elements in the Jewish people. The Jewish people in exile may be compared to a patient on the operating table of an expert surgeon. The surgery may be painful, but it would be suicidal for the patient to jump up in the middle and run out of the hospital.

I cannot go too much into the reasons for the Holocaust here. I am certainly not great enough to claim to know them on my own, but I have learned much from my teachers, especially the late Rabbi Avigdor Miller. A book is soon to appear based on a manuscript he left over about the Holocaust and its reasons. The point I want to make now is that we Orthodox Jews believe that everything was done by G-d for a reason. G-d's world is not just a free-for-all, where any crazy murderer can kill 6 million Jews.

So to say, "We will never let it happen again, we're going to make a state so that it won't happen," is not only futility, it is heresy from a Torah point of view. It is like saying that G-d let it happen for no reason, only because the Jews weren't strong enough to defend themselves. The right way to approach the Holocaust is to analyze the spiritual decline in the Jewish people that brought it on, and repair that decline.

The Talmud says that G-d scattered us among the nations so that we would be more safe - if one king decides to destroy us in one place, the others will be left over in another country. G-d made sure that not all of world Jewry was under Hitler's domain, so that they could continue. The Zionist vision, on the other hand, would put all Jews in one place, leaving them open to destruction. Thus even from a purely practical viewpoint Zionism is dangerous, not safer for Jews.

My family is Jewish; I consider myself agnostic. A hopeful agnostic if that is any consolation.

I want to make one comment on why the holocaust just doesn't sit right with me with regards to the Jewish people being God's chosen people, etc. etc. I am sure this argument has been brought up before by many
however I do not know the response, although I am sure that you will have one. Why did God punish it's chosen people over those who did not accept the Jewish fate? Did each and every Jew sin? children? I
can forsee a response either being yes, and children by proxy of parents, but that doesn't really sit right.

"another reason is so that the Jewish people could spread around the world and spread the Divine truth, and attract converts. " This is an interesting response. It does in fact show some validation for your theory [providing you believe in the contents of the torah]; is this an interpretation or is this direct quote [so to speak, not word for word]?

"So to say, "We will never let it happen again, we're going to make a state so that it won't happen," is not only futility, it is heresy from a Torah point of view. It is like saying that G-d let it happen for no reason, only because the Jews weren't strong enough to defend themselves. " Couldn't one make an argument that God let the holocaust happen, to show the Jewish people that they needed their own homeland, so that they could practise Judaism; this would still be in line with the belief of God and still be in line with the Jewish people being God's chosen people. What kind of objections would come from that?

Personally, I kind of enjoy the idea of that first quote. Not exactly what it said, because I'm not to keen on believing in the Torah, but the message that it sends. That we should all be living together.

Unfortunately it is hard to forget about pragmatism. Realistically most or a lot of countries are religiously based; more so at the time of the holocaust. The West = Christian, East = Buddhist, MiddleEast = Islam, regardless of whether or not I am making generalizations or have mislabeled certain areas, let us pretend that I am correct in my interpretation. All countries are religious based. Fortunately there are now places like Canada (and Switzerland I believe) that are pretty good for their secular governance; though at the heart the people are mostly Christian, save for a few spots.

If that was the case (that all countries were religious based) and all religions try to convert others then should the Jewish people be forced to live in such places? Would you still hold that it was God's will (I'm sure you would) that he wants Judaism spread if the Jews do not have the means to spread it? Or is it wrong to talk in hypotheticals such as that because God wouldn't let things come to that?

Essentially is it your position that no Jewish homeland, but the others religious states are okay?

Rabbi Aaron Cohen in his speech in Iran, Paragraph #20, said: "To be replaced by a regime fully in accordance with the aspirations of the Palestinians." Again, others countries have the right to do so, but the chosen people do not? Is the concept of 'rights' hypocritical to Judaism, when one comes at the expense of the other? And when it doesn't?

I was also considering the fact that we should not intervene when God punishes the Jewish people in the form of the holocaust; but what of people of other religions? The perspective kind of seems like a perpetual state of suffering; we can't have it, but we must ensure that others do. We must suffer, but make sure others do not. While it has a certain romanticism to it, it doesn't seem to be a very sound philosophy.

If God made us the way he did then it is unlikely that we can expect to combat our own logic, which in itself has a certain drive seemingly more powerful than religious belief itself, second only to the thirst for life that we all have. Nobody would believe if I said that God spoke to me from a bush (Moses [I think]). None of this invalidates God's existence but I do think that logic and survival are programmed (for lack of a better word) into us at the will of a creator if one exists and as such it would seem like it would be "heresey" to not embrace these tools (again, lack of a better word).

Thanks again.
Leslie Baum

Thank you for your excellent questions. Although G-d runs the world, He wants it to look like it's following natural rules, because otherwise His presence would be too obvious and no person would have a real choice whether to obey Him or not. So when He brings a punishment to the world, it's not just lightning coming down and striking the exact people who sinned. It's an arguably natural event, and in every natural event there has to be some randomness. Some innocent people or children get killed. The case of the Holocaust was no different. G-d saw that His people in Europe had slid downhill and were defecting
en masse from the Torah lifestyle they had followed for centuries. He brought destruction on them a) to punish those who had sinned, b) to save those who had not yet sinned but were on their way to it c) to clean out the old rotten homeland of His people and replant them with a fresh start somewhere else. But there were definitely many righteous observant Jews who were also killed, as well as innocent children and babies as you say. For G-d to save all the children and babies, He would have had to perform open miracles. Don't think that those children are being shortchanged, because they are now enjoying the highest level of pleasure in the World to Come, since they died a martyr's death.

You say maybe G-d brought the Holocaust to teach Jews that they have to have a homeland and fend for themselves. Firstly, even if you don't accept our position that Jews are forbidden to have a homeland during exile, you cannot claim that not having one is a sin, for which such an awful punishment was meted out. Secondly, if you read the Bible and the Talmud you will realize that it's not just a belief in G-d and a need to guess His motives in the world, the Jewish belief system is much more concrete and detailed than that. We are in exile now, waiting for the messiah who will bring us back to the Holy Land and rebuild our homeland. We do have the "right" to a homeland, but only when G-d decides it is the right time. To do it ourselves is to pre-empt G-d's plan. So we are not stabbing in the dark, we know why we are here and what we are waiting for.

Yes, my statement about converts was a direct quote from the Talmud. The idea is not that we should actively seek converts; that is discouraged. We just have to be here so that the noble souls who are lost among the gentiles will have the chance to come and join us, on their own. So this is no contradiction to the fact that the gentiles have their own religions. In fact, some of the most famously righteous converts to Judaism lived in countries where Christianity was enforced and they were punished severely - burned at the stake - for what they did, e.g. Count Pototsky in Russian Poland.

You ask about using our instinct to survive. It takes practice and getting used to, but when one believes in G-d and the Torah and understands the whole of Jewish history, one realizes that G-d does the best job taking care of His chosen people. He is our shepherd. Sometimes one sheep may feel an instinct to run away and take a drink from the river, but the shepherd hits it with his crook and forces it to go with the rest of the flock, because he knows best what's good for the sheep.