Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Reason to be Frum (Orthodox, observant, etc...) for Me -

I have often thought about why the Holocaust happened. After having thought about this several times and in several different ways, from an Orthodox perspective and from an un-orthodox perspective when I was not Orthodox, I have not come to a good, conclusive answer to perfectly satisfy me on why G-d would allow such a thing to occur. I have come to a realization though, that the inability to have an answer to such a thing should not be a source of distress or a stab to faith in the least. There are many things in the world and existence that I do not understand, and many of those things are good things, so why should I fret when I don't understand the nature and dynamics of how bad things happen? Do I fret when I don't understand the most intricate mechanics of how being in love, for example, or connection with G-d functions? The fact is that they do function and that a driving force behind them makes them function; it is the same logic that drives me to believe that I do not need to understand the mechanics of a negative thing any more than I need to understand those of a positive thing.

Consider; I might have the tendency to strive to understand evil or negative things simply because they unseat me and bother me. However, looking at a positive thing, that that thing brings me satisfaction, logically, does not excuse me from trying to understand it from the inside out. Having said that, there is no inherent difference between a good and an evil occurrence; if I am to try to understand either of them it should be because I am curious, but if I decide not to strive to understand either of them, it's because I accept the way G-d makes things work. Ultimately, however, I should either strive to understand both of them or neither of them, because anything else would be a bit hypocritical.

In the end it comes down to this. I do not possess the knowledge or insight of G-d to understand why the Holocaust happened. All I am left able to do is to thank G-d that I was not there, for I do not know if I could have passed such a test, and rather than feel like I missed out on a special test (which seems sadistic), I am much happier knowing that G-d has chosen a different lot for me in this world and has blessed me by having made me born in this time rather than that one. Having said that, having seen survivors, especially survivors who are believing and observant Jews, I am in awe of their ability to pass such a test, and rather than wanting to confer merit on myself by saying that I would be able to pass such a test too, I realize something else. If they did so much to keep their Judaism through such evil occurrences, I, who face much less evil than they do (thank G-d), am up against much less adversity than they are and am able to be Jewish much more easily than they are. Since this is the case, I will keep Judaism. What do I face compared to them? Assimilation? Potential strife with other Jews (and possibly family) because I reject a secular life-style? All of these "challenges" pale in comparison to things that my elders faced in the Holocaust, and I will stray from my Judaism because my challenges confound me? The survivors did so much to ensure their own survival and ultimately the survival of Judaism that I owe it to them, not to mention to G-d, to pick up the mantle where they took off. G-d knows it's much easier for me to do that today here then it was for them there. Yes, it is logical to say, when a thing is so glaringly obvious, that one should do something simply because he can. I can keep Judaism and so I will. This is one motivation that kept me going strong in observance after I already had become so.