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Impact of Holocaust Theology


Impact of Holocaust Theology Explain the contribution to the development and expression of Judaism of ONE significant person OR school of thought – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Impact of Holocaust Theology

Impact of Holocaust Theology
  • Explain the contribution to the development and
    expression of Judaism of ONE significant person
    OR school of thought
  • Analyse the impact of this person OR school of
    thought on Judaism

Historical Context Patriarchs
  • Abraham/Moses
  • The chosen people
  • The kingdom
  • The promised land
  • The covenant
  • Word of God as given to Moses
  • Beliefs
  • One God
  • Omniscient/Omnipotent/Omnibenevolent

Historical Context Scripture/texts
  • Sacred Scriptures/texts
  • Torah
  • Oral Torah (Talmud)
  • Tenak - Hebrew Scriptures containing 613 laws
  • Halakah complete Jewish law
  • Midrash stories about the stories
  • Prophetic vision Tikkun Olam heal the world

Mid 1800s Enlightenment leads to variants
  • Orthodox
  • remain faithful in all ways to the halakah
  • Progressive/Reform Jews
  • the most liberal Jews Jews who do not follow the
    Talmud strictly but try to adapt historical forms
    to modern world 
  • Conservative reaction to Progressive/Reform
  • Jews who keep some of the requirements of the
    Mosaic law but allow for adaptation of other
  • Zionism
  • belief/philosophy that Jews need to create
    messiah/promised land not wait

History as a Persecuted People
  • Jews marginalised
  • Slavery/Exodus
  • Destruction of 1st and 2nd temples
  • Massacres/expulsion from Spain
  • Attacks by Catholic Church
  • Diaspora (The Diaspora the collective group of
    Jews diaspora condition of living outside of
    promised land, spread out)

  • New testament
  • Matthew 2725 which spoke of some Jewish leaders
    was used instead to apply to all Jews "His blood
    be on us and on our children...Ye are of your
    father the devil."
  • Protocols of the Elders of Zion
  • grew from rumours of Jewish conspiracy/poisonings,
    spread of plague

  • Nuremburg laws
  • Final Solution
  • Concentration camps
  • Ghettos
  • Work Camps
  • Pogroms
  • Shoah/Holocaust 6,000,000 Jews murdered

Immediately Post-Holocaust
  • Muselmänner - (Primo Levi) the living dead
  • UN decree
  • Jewish state, Holy land
  • Jews given land, fight to establish statehood
  • 1948 state of Israel declared
  • Emotions too raw to have any no
  • Many Jews disillusioned with faith

Varied ResponsesThere is no God
  • Reform - Richard Rubinstein After Auschwitz
  • Only honest response to the Holocaust is the
    rejection of God, and the recognition that all
    existence is ultimately meaninglessness.
  • No divine plan or purpose, no God that reveals
    His will to mankind, and God does not care about
    the world.
  • Man must assert and create his own value in life.
  • His views were rejected by Jews of all religious
    denominations, but his works were widely read in
    the Jewish community in the 1970s.
  • Later views one may believe that God may exist
    as the basis for reality.

Varied ResponsesFree will
  • Modern Orthodox Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits
  • Faith after the Holocaust
  • man's free will depends on God's decision to
    remain hidden.
  • if God were to reveal himself in history and hold
    back the hand of evil tyrants, man's free will
    would be rendered non-existent.
  • Holocaust (Shoah) is not Gods fault, but result
    of mans choice to choose evil over good

Varied ResponsesThe Mystery of God
  • Conservative Theologian Neil Gillman
  • all arguments proposed by Jewish scholars fail to
    answer the problem posed by the events of the
    Nazi regime
  • there can be no resolution of the religious
    questions posed by the Shoah
  • we should stop trying to explain what is beyond

Varied ResponsesThe Mystery of God
  • Reform/Progressive - writer David Ariel What Do
    Jews Believe?
  • there is simply no way that the Holocaust can be
  • Gods will is unfathomable (Gods response to
  • we can empathize with Jobs suffering, but it is
    impossible to understand Gods will
  • the mystery of how God could have permitted the
    murder of millions of innocent victims remains

Jewish State - 1967
  • Kibbutz -collective community in Israel that was
    traditionally based on agriculture , socialism,
  • Idealistic approach to Israel/ mission as Gods
    chosen people
  • Six Day War Israel fights to maintain
  • In response to threats to Israel, Emil
    Fackenheims 614th commandment

614th Commandment
  • Thou shalt not grant Hitler posthumous
  • Survive as Jews lest the Jewish people perish
  • Remember the martyrs of the Holocaust
  • Forbidden to deny or despair of God lest the
    jewish people perish
  • Forbidden to despair of the world lest the Jewish
    people perish
  • Focus becomes Jewish survival/protection in face
    of enemies

Quotes of Emil Fackenheim
  • I myself for many years compared the Holocaust to
    prior tragedies in Jewish history, and avoided
    the fundamental differences, thus reaching the
    comfortable conclusion that Judaism and the
    Jewish faith are not called into question in a
    unique, unprecedented way. Yet there is a
    radical, fundamental, shattering difference.

Quotes of Emil Fackenheim
  • Hence after Auschwitz, there is need for a new
    Jewish theology, perhaps a new philosophy,
    possibly both.
  • Realist that he was, Maimonides did not consider
    the time ripe for Jewish sovereignty, Messianic
    as it would have to be, in a Jewish state.

Quotes of Emil Fackenheim
  • (Jews who visit Jerusalem today) would see Jews
    from Western countries as well as Muslim and Arab
    countries -- Jews from as far away as India and
    China. They would be filled with a profound
    astonishment, as if to say "The city that sat
    solitary yesterday, that was ruins even if holy
    ruins -- how full of people it is now!" ... the
    deepest Jewish response to taunts about the
    destruction of Jerusalem is Jewish Jerusalem
    rebuilt. It is today the most profound expression
    of the Jewish faith that the long but not
    incurable disease of Jew-hatred will one day come
    to an end.

Implications of 614th
  • Christian faiths - doctrines normally advocate
    conversion of nonbelievers, but many have a deep
    respect for Fackenheim's concept
  • After Auschwitz the Christian churches no longer
    wish to convert the Jews. While they may not be
    sure of the theological grounds that dispense
    them from this mission, the churches have become
    aware that asking the Jews to become Christians
    is a spiritual way of blotting them out of
    existence and thus only reinforces the effects of
    the Holocaust.

Implications of 614th
  • Holocaust remembrance
  • The concept encounters broad acceptance in
    connection with Holocaust remembrance. In the
    late twentieth century, efforts to document the
    memories of remaining Holocaust survivors echoed
    the notion that preserving these facts for future
    generations was a way to keep Hitler and his
    ideas in the grave.

Criticisms of Fackenheims 614th
  • Rabbi Toba Spitzer
  • Holocaust is compared to the Exodus/Passover
  • ...of a people born in slavery, freed by their
    God, and taken on a transformational journey. It
    is the story of the steps taken towards becoming
    a community bound by a holy covenant, where
    social relationships are defined by the Godly
    principles of tzedek and chesed, justice and love

Criticisms of Fackenheims 614th
  • Rabbi Marc Gellman
  • I am Jewish because my mother is Jewish, and,
    more importantly, because I believe Judaism is
    loving, just, joyous, hopeful and true. I am not
    Jewish, and I did not teach my children or my
    students to be Jewish, just to spite Hitler.

Criticisms of Fackenheims 614th
  • Rabbi Harold M. Schulweiss
  • We abuse the Holocaust when it becomes a cudgel
    against others who have their claims of
    suffering. The Shoah must not be misused in the
    contest of one-downsmanship with other victims of
    brutality....The Shoah has become our instant
    raison d'etre, the short-cut answer to the
    penetrating questions of our children 'Why
    should I not marry out of the faith? Why should I
    join a synagogue? Why should I support Israel?
    Why should I be Jewish?' We have relied on a
    singular imperative 'Thou shalt not give Hitler
    a posthumous victory.' That answer will not work.
    To live in spite, to say 'no' to Hitler is a far
    cry from living 'yes' to Judaism.

Criticisms of 614th
  • Daniel Shoag on Zionism in The Harvard Israel
  • Fackenheim fails to locate a religious or divine
    source for his moral imperative. For Fackenheim,
    self-defense, and its manifestation in Zionism,
    are not religious values but rather things that
    precede religious value or stand outside of it.
    Thus Fackenheim locates the significance of the
    Jewish State in the Holocaust rather than in
    traditional Judaism.

Newer generations of Jews and 614th
  • few survivors of the Holocaust - many Jews feel
    their memories and opinions deserve respect
  • idea that people must not further Hitler's goals
    has become a meaningful part of public discussion
    about Judaism, Zionism, and anti-Semitism
  • many who discuss it sympathetically do not
    embrace it wholeheartedly
  • some in the newer generations only know Holocaust
    as history - they feel the commandment to grant
    Hitler no posthumous victories denies positive
    interpretations of the subjects what the
    Holocaust means for Jews

  • Eliezer Schweid Is There A Religious Meaning To
    The Idea Of The Chosen People After The Shoah?
  • Israel and normalisation
  • focus on the individual/economic achievement does
    not allow for a sense of the universal message
    that Judaism is about.

Eliezer Schweid Modern Orthodox
  • On the basis of their loyalty to their
    humanistic, monotheistic, and moral Jewish
    purpose, these movements must spark a renaissance
    for Jewish humanism, bringing the Jewish people
    back to the ideal of moral elevation as its
    purpose and destiny. In practical terms, this
    means reviving the norm of communality based on
    the principles of charity and justice a balance
    between rights and duties and responsibility for
    our fellows and for the collective.

Eliezer Schweid
  • My conclusion is that unless the Jewish people
    is restored to its real self as a people engaged
    in the realization of a redeeming principle for
    itself and for humanity, it will become a
    stranger to itself, will bring itself to the
    brink of another catastrophe, as it has already
    done several times during its long history.

Eliezer Schweid
  • but the idea of a chosen people may become
    meaningful again, and indeed redeeming, if
    interpreted in terms of the ancient prophetic
    covenant that obligated the Jewish people to the
    ethics of responsibility to build a different
    society and a different statehood based on
    freedom and justice.

Where to? Moral imperative for Israel
  • Eliezer Schweid
  • The morality of the covenant is the only way to
    reunite the Jewish people, to ground it in its
    sources and historical memory
  • The commandment to mend the world should be
    interpreted in the terms of the covenant.
  • Israel must strive to realize the eternal
    prophetic values of Judaism and redeem the Jewish
    people spiritually as well as materially, and
    contribute to the redemption of humanity.
  • Israel must become a society and a state that
    will become the spiritual centre for the Jewish
    people and the source of a universal message to

  • Eliezer Schweid
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  • Other
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