Holocaust Remembrance Day 5782

Today (April 28) we remember a dark time.

We cannot detach the Holocaust from the totality of Jewish faith, which began when the Creator called Abraham: “Go… and I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.” (Gen. 12:1-2)

On the other hand, we cannot detach it from those of Abraham’s nation who distanced themselves from the GOD who called him. Whereas the Hebrews got this name (Ivrim – “those who cross over”) because their forefathers left idol worship to embrace the one true GOD, the era of so-called Enlightenment saw many Hebrews “crossing over” in the opposite direction. Since the 19th century, a great many Jews have left the God of their fathers for whatever was/is trendy – from pantheism (“everything is God”) to atheism (“there is no God”), and everything in between.

Ironically, the 20th century was considered the most ‘enlightened’ in history, the most liberated from the ‘superstitions’ of belief in the Jewish God; yet it produced mass murder in several forms. Today we remember the system dedicated to annihilating the Jewish people in a cold, methodical, ‘rational’ way, because they were seen as a threat to the Aryan race. That system did not distinguish between religious and secular Jews, Torah keepers and Christian converts, enlightened professors and simple peasants. The Nazis exterminated them all, even those with only one Jewish grandparent.

We who believe in the Creator turn to Him, bewildered. “Why did You let it happen?” we ask. His answer: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways…. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9)

People often complain that this can’t really be enough of an answer, when it comes to the Holocaust. In a way, they are right.

Why should only God be required to give an answer for this horrific chapter in human history?

We should be asking the advocates of European Enlightenment, the champions of humanism, the intellectuals who declared God “dead” and no longer needed by humanity: “You who claim to be free moral agents – Why did you let it happen?”

We should be asking the Jewish people who reject their ancestral faith as obsolete: “So, when our people are targeted for extermination, regardless of their politics or religious beliefs, does your atheism provide you with comfort, with hope? Does it help you to even understand why this hatred falls on atheists like yourself, just because you’re from a Jewish family?”

We should be asking those who attended church across “Christian” Europe, who had Bibles in their homes: “Why did your faith not produce action?”

As rational beings, we should also be asking ourselves: “Is it fair that the same people who hold God responsible when things go wrong, usually give the credit to everyone except God when things go right?”

Holocaust history is not only filled with horror stories. There are many testimonies of experiences that people of faith call miraculous: impossible escapes, jaw-dropping “chains of lucky coincidences,” and other lifesaving “accidents”. Aren’t these incidents part of the Creator’s answer?

Moreover, many non-Jews who rescued Jews from the Nazi killing machine – honored in Israel as Righteous Gentiles – did so at great risk to themselves. While a few were not believers in the Creator, a significant number of them were. It was their strong faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that gave them the courage and love to stand against the evil.

Hostility towards the Jewish people, or antisemitism, is sometimes called “the world’s oldest hatred.” The desire to eliminate the Jews from the earth has surfaced in so many different eras, and so many different environments (even among people who never met a Jew!) that it’s logical to suspect it is directed by a spiritual being, whose existence spans many centuries and cultures. The Jewish Bible (1 Chron. 21:1, Job 1:6-9, Zech. 3:1-2, etc.) calls this being Satan – Hebrew for “adversary”. As Heaven’s enemy, his motive is simple: He wants to destroy anything and anyone the Creator loves.

But he cannot carry out his destruction on earth without human agents. Those who follow Satan’s opposition to GOD have come and gone for thousands of years, expressing their Jew-hatred in various forms, with a long list of (contradictory) justifications for it. Today it has crystalized as rejection of the Jewish state. Not surprisingly, the latest slanderous lies about Israel are used as an excuse to also persecute Jewish people who are not connected with Israel – and supporters of Israel not connected with the Jewish people. Why?

Simple. Because the Lord of all the earth “chose the tribe of Judah, and Mount Zion, which He loved,” (Ps. 78:68) Satan’s servants hate them both: “Come, and let’s wipe them out as a nation, so that the name of Israel will no longer be remembered.” (Ps. 83:4) Because the LORD has promised to bless those who bless Abraham’s descendants (Gen. 12:3), Satan hurls curses at them. Because the LORD has vowed to never “reject all the descendants of Israel for everything that they have done,” (Jer. 31:37), Satan’s servants deceive uninformed Christians with the opposite teaching.

The Holocaust was called the “final solution” because Satan apparently thought this would finally be the end of the Jewish people. Given that the rebirth of Israel was a direct result of the Holocaust, we can guess that the Adversary is tormented by how his plan backfired so spectacularly. And it’s been downhill ever since. In calling Israel literally out of the graves of Europe, and putting them back in their land (Ezek. 37:12), the Creator was only getting started!

With every attempt to destroy Israel through war or terror, the country only gets stronger. Despite global backing for “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” (BDS), the nations of the world continue to buy Israel’s latest technological innovation or medical lifesaver. Even Islam-inspired hatred is faltering, as Muslim countries decide to join with Israel against Iran, and Muslims in Israel declare themselves proud “Zionists”.

But the Jewish people still bear the scars of the Holocaust. Even those who were born afterwards can feel the pain. The mighty acts of the Holy One today don’t necessarily answer that haunting question of the past: “Where were You then?”

And yet, somehow many instinctively feel the answer. He was there, in the camps, sharing the pain and taking some of the scars. There is an ancient Jewish source that expresses this idea:

 As one people, we feel the pain of those who suffered. Who can remain unmoved by the photos of camp survivors, who looked at the camera through hollow eyes, like shadows of human beings? Even the survivors who looked ordinary carried lifelong injuries of body and soul, which affected their children. The number of Holocaust survivors still living today is shrinking, and their memories of that time are minimal. They were infants or small children at the time, and many were hidden in non-Jewish families and taught to hide their Jewish identity. They carry scars of a different kind.

But there is a healing effect in seeing the Creator fulfill His promises to Israel. He will not change His mind (Jer. 31:35-36, Num. 23:19).

There is also healing through the loving care of Sabra Fund, given to these elderly Holocaust survivors by cheerful volunteers who visit them, help them with daily tasks, and organize gatherings for holidays and personal celebrations.

We will not forget; we will bring the Creator’s love to those who lived through that dark time. We will tell each one that he or she is a living miracle. Together we will draw closer to the Maker of Heaven and earth, and wait patiently for the day when His Messiah will rule the earth with justice and righteousness, putting an end to all hatred.

And we will not forget that you who support Sabra are a part of this holy work.

From Zion and Jerusalem,


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