A world of faith is a moral world - opinion

The Jewish people remember and will never forget. But in a world where a man is affected by evil from his youth, “never again” can only be maintained under the rule of faith.

JEWS BEING transported by railway during the Holocaust. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
JEWS BEING transported by railway during the Holocaust.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
On the 10th of the Hebrew month of Tevet, the Jewish people remembered the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, when the process of its destruction started. On the same day, the public in Israel also marked the “General Kaddish Day,” remembering the victims of the terrible Holocaust in Europe.
A memory that is indicated in the recitation of Kaddish is not a “dead memory” but a “living memory,” a constructive and creative one. The Holocaust of European Jewry did not take place in a vacuum. It could only happen in a world evidently absent from God where, instead of not giving the Creator a foothold, it was a world devoid of faith.
In such a world, where a man was “über alles,” there were the laws of the jungle: The strong win, the weak are defeated, the government belongs only to the upper race. The heart of man was evil from his youth, and in a world without God, this evil was given free rein. Then the skies of Europe darkened and its roads were washed away by rivers of blood.
The Jewish people remember and will never forget. But in a world where a man is affected by evil from his youth, “never again” can only be maintained under the rule of faith. A world of faith is a moral world: Every human being was created in the image of God and every human being has a place under the name of God.
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau at the world ceremony marking "Day of Salvation and Liberation" in front of the Western Wall. (Credit: Eli Itkin)Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau at the world ceremony marking "Day of Salvation and Liberation" in front of the Western Wall. (Credit: Eli Itkin)
When the remembering person cries out, “Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba,” he knows that everything is from God, the good and the bad. He does not seek revenge because the Lord takes vengeance, the Lord is a jealous and avenging God. The Jewish people remember, but in order to prevent such horrors from happening again, they spread the only possible pesticide: faith! Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba!
In last week’s Torah portion, Joseph stands in a trembling position in front of his brother and his memory is clear. Nothing is erased, but he has the power to contain everything because “Joseph the governor” is “Joseph the righteous” and his world is a world of faith.
“YOU HAVE thought evil of me, God has seen good. You are just puppets in the plans of the Creator of the world. You thought of selling me into slavery, God thought of selling me to the king!” In a world of faith, memory is necessary so as not to leave evil a return path, but it is a containing memory because it was from God.
This is perhaps the place to honor Dr. Gabriel German Zakharyayev, the Jewish leader and philanthropist from Russia who deserves international recognition for his actions. He was the one who reshaped the collective Jewish memory and through his educational activity succeeded in introducing “Day of Salvation and Liberation” into the Jewish calendar, the day when the Nazi beast was destroyed.
It is a day of “catheterization” of emotions and the blockages that the passing of time can cause, as well as a day of sharpening the faith, with participation of the entire Jewish world alongside world leaders. This is a day whose goal is spreading the universal belief in the Creator of the world. It is the day of the downfall of the godless Nazism, the evil that appeared in the world without God.
It is also a day of spreading a noble morality of gratitude to the soldiers of all nations who paid the price of their lives in the war of the free world against the dark, the victory of the good over evil and cruelty. This was well-defined by my friend, the author Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize-laureate who has indeed gained international recognition in his famous statement, “If a person does not know good, something is missing in his humanity,” and that an inhuman world is dangerous. Wiesel stated, “If you bring life into the world, you must protect it by changing the world.”
This is also the message of the 10th of Tevet - the General Kaddish Day that calls for all of us to change the world by spreading faith and correcting a world as the kingdom of God. We thus reformulate the true formula for peace between peoples, true peace between a man and himself and peace between a man and his Creator. “Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba.”
The writer is a former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel and current president of the Yad Vashem Council.