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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776
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Was the Holocaust Punishment for Sin?

Are we to believe that these Jews who were devout and pious were being punished?


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Holocaust



The theory of the holocaust-as-punishment is not just abhorrent. It is factually absurd.

But there is more.

Do those who argue that European Jewry were nearly wiped out by God as a consequence of sin really believe they are doing God a favor with this heresy? Do they believe they are defending His reputation? Let’s  say for a moment that they’re right. God bears no responsibility for the gas chambers at Auschwitz because the Jews of Europe had it coming. They earned death by virtue of their iniquity. They deserved to be turned into ash because they had abrogated God’s covenant.

Now, how many of you feel like praying to a God who could do that? How many of you feel like loving a God who enacts the death penalty for eating a cheese burger? How many people would want to worship a God who cremates children when their parents drive on the Sabbath?

No, this stomach-turning theory paints God, and the Jewish people, in the worst possible light, when, in reality, it’s the Nazis that deserve that opprobrium.

As to God and the question of where He was as the Jews of Europe were slowly exterminated, I will forever believe that we have the right, nay, the responsibility, to challenge and question God on that issue.

I don’t know why God allowed the holocaust. Nor do I care. Any explanation would not minimize the horror of it. Nor would it bring back my six millions murdered Jewish brothers and sisters. Indeed, asking for an answer is itself immoral insofar as it is an attempt to reconcile ourselves with the irreconcilable. What we want is for God to fulfill his promises to the Jewish people, that they might live a blessed and peaceful existence, like so man other nations that are not perennial targets for genocide.

True, God has sustained us, for the most part, and we alone have survived from antiquity. We are grateful to God for our longevity. But it should not take the deaths of innocent Israeli soldiers to guarantee our survival.

It is high time that God show Himself in history and bless a people who have been, for the past three thousand years, the most devoted and religious of nations, deeply faithful to God, practicing charity, promoting scholarship, fostering hospitality, and spreading light and blessing to all nations of the earth.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

About the Author: Shmuley Boteach, whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the founder of The World Values Network and the international bestselling author of 30 books, including “The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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