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Holocaust must serve as lesson for humanity, not lesson in divinity

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  • Holocaust must serve as lesson for humanity, not lesson in divinity

    Where was God?

    11:13 , 05.05.05

    Holocaust must serve as lesson for humanity, not lesson in divinity

    Yedioth Internet
    By Avraham Burg

    Where was God during the Holocaust?

    That is the most poignant question raised during in-depth discussions
    on "Hitler's Century."

    An atheist would mostly find justifications for his arguments in
    God's disappearance during the Holocaust.

    "A God who allowed more than a million children to die as if they were
    bugs cannot exist," he would say, "and if he does exist, he must not
    be worshipped."

    On the other hand, the religious advocate needs the "Holocaust's

    "It's a fact, the Holocaust led to the establishment of the State of
    Israel," he would say. "It's a fact, less than half a century after
    the crematoria the Jewish people is stronger than ever."

    "It's a fact, I survived," we survived!

    And what happened to my God during the Holocaust? My God was not
    even there.

    My God is found elsewhere.

    'It wasn't God who failed during Holocaust'

    For me, God and the Holocaust do not belong together. My question is
    not where God was, but where were the people, my brothers and sisters?

    After all, the 20th Century was the most secular one we have ever
    known - the century of man, where doctrines and perceptions from
    previous centuries were realized.

    A spirituality of liberation and secularization, ideologies premised
    on power and nationalism, combined with the globalization of material
    violence and unbounded, immoral greed.

    It was not God who failed during the Holocaust, but rather, those
    he created.

    Moreover, the believer who found God during the Holocaust and the
    heretic who lost his God during the same dark period are not that
    different from each other.

    Both of them either worship or dismiss a God who is their own creation.

    They are angry at or cling to something that flows from inside,
    and in fact worship themselves and their imaginations.

    I belong to those who believe in something that is beyond human,
    while they believe in man's selfish idolatry. They direct their gaze
    internally, to the ego, instead of looking up to that which is hidden,
    magical, significant and found beyond all of us.

    The 20th Century and its Holocaust must serve as a lesson for humanity,
    not a lesson in divinity.

    The lesson of man who failed in his mission.

    A God who observes the minutest details, or a personal providence,
    do not really exist. Neither is there a God of reward and punishment
    - I pray and he saves, I behave piously and sanctimoniously and he
    responds and makes things better.

    Indeed, belief is a much more sophisticated matter.

    New thinking needed

    God gave us the "earth" to live in and rule over. Belief means
    responsibility, not secular haughtiness or ultra-Orthodox weakness.

    When things don't work out on earth, it is the failure of the
    responsible parties, humans, those around me, myself! It is not the
    responsibility of the delegating authority, the invisible God up
    there in the "heavens."

    The Holocaust is still too close, its questions have not yet been
    fully asked, and its answers cannot yet be provided.

    But still, the direction is clear: the old religions and particularly
    Judaism, the mother of all western faiths, need new thinking.

    Not a doctrine of eternal revenge or the perception that the world
    always was, is, and will be against us. Not a "Holocaust Judaism"
    that justified all our injustices because they pale in comparison to
    the major injustice inflicted upon us.

    The individual, and the group, need new thinking, which rejects that
    personal providence notion, God as a babysitter. Because a God who
    manages the lives of all individuals means a God who does not leave
    any personal space for humanity to produce, correct, and be a partner
    in creation.

    'There are other Holocausts that aren't ours'

    The new thinking stemming from the holocaust must focus on the forging
    of better humans and a better humanity, that would never again give
    rise to destroyers of humanity such as the Nazis, and would not allow
    victims to be exterminated, as happened to us and the Gypsies and
    homosexuals who were there with us.

    Just like happened to the Armenians before us, and the victims of
    genocide in Rwanda and Cambodia after us.

    We need the kind of thinking that does not give us a monopoly on
    suffering and exclusive rights to the Holocaust, because there were,
    and there are, other Holocausts that are not ours.

    New beliefs, and particularly Judaism, must breach the boundaries
    of the enclosed old religion and turn the belief in humans as God's
    creatures into the basis for its tradition and customs.

    Indeed, this new thinking must serve as the binding basis for dialogue
    between followers of all religions who are willing to leave their own
    "territory" in order to protect us and the world from bloodshed in
    the name of closed-minded religion or arrogant humanity, wherever it
    may be found.

    Avraham Burg is a former Labor party Knesset member and author of
    "God is Back"
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