Have you ever been in a situation where your faith has been tested? In other words, has there ever been a time in your life when you were struggling a lot, you prayed to god, but situations seemed to be getting worse? If you were, did your faith stay the same, or did you lose faith. During the holocaust of 1942-45 many Jews that were put into concentration camps. Others, that luckily survived, saw very cruel things happen. Many of them lost their faith because they questioned why god would let cruel things happen. If I was in that situation, I would’ve lost a little bit of faith, however, I would still have faith because I was lucky enough to survive. I can prove my point by examining the actual experience of Elie Wiesel and other survivors. In the book Night, Elie talks about his experience in the holocaust and how his faith was tested.
Night by Elie Wiesel tells the story of Elie Wiesel of Sighet, Transylvania. This is memoir is written from Elie’s point of view of his experience in the concentration camps during the holocaust. His faith in God is very high before the holocaust but changes after his family is forced into wagons and taken to the concentration camps. When his family got to the concentration camps his sister and mother were sent to the crematory. Meanwhile, his dad and him were put into work camps. In the memoir I can see that his faith is very high before he is sent to the concentration camps because he sates, “by day I studied Talmud and by night I would run to the synagogue to weep over destruction of the temple.”(Wiesel 3).
This quote shows that Elie’s faith was very high because he was very committed to his religion. After he is in the concentration camp we can see that Elie had lost faith in god because he says, “For the first time, I felt anger rising towards me, why should I sanctify His name? The almighty, the eternal and terrible master of the universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank him for?”(Wiesel 33) In other words, after all the evil Elie had seen in the concentration camp, he had nothing to thank God for. After being in the concentration camp for a long time, Elie seemed to have lost all faith for God. This is because he had seen so much evil that it became normal. However, he couldn’t understand why God didn’t do anything about it if he is the most powerful soul in the universe. We can see that God had died to Elie when Elie states, “Where is he? This is where-hanging from the gallows…”(Wiesel 65) This means that to Elie, God had been killed by evil and he had lost all his power to stop it.
The believe that God is present is present in the existence of evil is called theodicy. According to document 1, “Theodicy is the branch of theology (the study of religion) which defends God’s goodness and justice in the presence of evil.” This means that theodicy is the study of religion where God overpowers evil. Most of the time God is mentioned as the master of the universe or the greatest soul. This is because usually when something bad is occurring people pray to God to help them with the problem. Since God has the power to do anything, then he is able to answer everyone’s prayers. However, many people and holocaust survivors lost complete faith in God because they prayed to God to help them be free from the nazi control, yet they saw incredible evil happen. Many survivors saw kids get killed, siblings being separated, and even parents being cremated. During this time people also starved, got beaten, and some died, so how is it that if God has the power to stop anything, he couldn’t stop the nazis.
Elie Wiesel and many other survivors were in the same concentration camp, Auschwits, yet, some had different experiences. One example of a survivor that had a different experience than Elie was Esther Bauer. Ms.Bauer was 9 years old when Hitler became the leader of the Nazi Germany, and she was sent to Auschwits with her family. Her family had died in the horrifying grounds of the concentration camps. According to the Riverdale Press Ms. Bauer said, “….no faith whatsoever…if there is a God who let this happen, I would kill myself” In other words, it was impossible for her to believe in God, when she saw non-stop evil happen right in front of her. In the article Staring into the void: God and the Holocaust by Brett Buckner it says that during the Holocaust many Jews were hidden in a cellar and someone wrote, “I believe in the sun when it’s not shining.
I believe in love even when not feeling it. I believe in God even when He is silent.”(Buckner) This quote means that at the moment everything was dark, not only in the actual cell, but also in his/her mind. Everything about the holocaust seemed unclear. They wondered why such evil had to occur to such innocent people, or why God would let that happen. Also, in the cell all they felt was fear, and uncomfortable, they didn’t feel much love. Maybe some of them tried to give each other affection, but it was difficult to feel happily loved when they were in a dark and wet cellar.
In addition, he/she had a strong believe in God because they still had faith even when they were in terrible conditions. They still beloved in God even though he didn’t do anything to stop 6 million Jews from dying and other millions from suffering. Furthermore, another holocaust survivor named Riva Schuster Hirsch said, “If it weren’t for God, I would have died, he’s the only thing I had left. They took everything else. Hitler was evil, but God never abandoned us. He was always there.”(Buckner) This means that to this specific survivor God was the only bit of hope they could hold on to, everything else had crumbled to pieces right in front of them. They believe that the only reason why they’re still alive is because of God.
In the book Night shows how his experience was tested throughout the time he was in the concentration camps. WWII was about sixty five years ago so his beliefs in faith have changed a little. To Elie, God had died when he was suffering in the concentration camps, but his faith changed. According to A Conversation with Elie Wisel by Joseph Lowin, Elie said, “I never lost my faith. If I had lost my faith, I would have no problem. I don’t say I don’t have problems with God. I do have problems with God. As I say elsewhere, the tragedy of the believer is deeper than the tragedy of the non-believer.”(Scheiner) This shows that Elie still believes in God but he still wonders why God couldn’t do more, than just stay silent, to prevent all the evil.
In conclusion, if my faith was tested I would probably lose faith in God. However, it depends to what extent. If I would’ve been in Auschwits in the 1940s and I saw that situations kept getting worse, that kids were dying, that people were being cremated, shot and experimented on, I would’ve said, this is absolute evil. If God let it happen then why would I pray for no answer. I personally do believe that their is a God watching over us, or a soul greater than anything else, but I’m not very religious. I pray and I thank God for the things I have but I rarely attend church. However I believe in hope. I hold on to hope that things will get better every time I’m going through a difficult situation.