Essay on The Challenge of Having Faith in God Today

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The Challenge of Having Faith in God Today

In Elie Wiesel’s book Night, one character professes to have “more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He’s the only one who’s kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people” (77). After all they have gone through in their rich and lengthy history, Jews have every right to feel angry toward God for not keeping His promises. God told them that they were His chosen people; but who would feel privileged to be a Jew if being “chosen” meant having to live through Auschwitz? For many Jews who lived through the Holocaust, their faith in God will never be the same. The question that many of them ask is “Why?” Why the gas chambers? Why the Jews? “Why has God apparently forsaken us?”
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Wiesel described how the Holocaust changed his faith:

Once, New Year’s Day had dominated my life. I knew that my sins grieved the Eternal; I implored his forgiveness. Once, I had believed profoundly that upon one solitary deed of mine, one solitary prayer, depended the salvation of the world.

This day I had ceased to plead. I was no longer capable of lamentation. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone – terribly alone in a world without God and without man. Without love or mercy. I had ceased to be anything but ashes, yet I felt myself to be stronger than the Almighty, to whom my life had been tied for so long. I stood amid that praying congregation, observing it like a stranger. (Night 65)

The Holocaust had challenged his profound faith, and the Holocaust had won. In his forward to Wiesel’s Night, Francois Mauriac considers the idea that there were more horrors in the Holocaust than the obvious ones. There was also the horror of “the death of God in the soul of a child who suddenly discovers absolute evil” (ix). When people come face to face with the kind of evil that pervaded the Holocaust, it is hard to cling to their former faith.

In another work, Wiesel adapted an actual experience in Auschwitz into a play set during the 17th century pogroms of Eastern Europe. While he was in Auschwitz, Wiesel

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