Steven Bayme, 1997 Understanding
KTAV Publishing House ISBN 0-88125-581-5
The Church and the Jews
Judaism and Christianity as Competitive Religions
Rome accepted Christianity in the early part of the fourth century C.E. The status of Judaism officially was unchanged, inasmuch as it remained a religio licita of the Roman Empire. However, as Christianity became more important within the Roman Empire, the relationship with Jews and Judaism underwent serious revision. The fuming point came in the fourth century, under Constantine the Great, who recognized Christianity's official status, converted to Christianity himself, and reconstituted his capital in the East at ConstantinopleUnder Constantine, the nature of Christian legislation toward Jews was defensive in nature. Rather than engage in offensive anti-Semitism, Christian concem was with protecting confessing Christians from contact with Jews lest they relapse into Judaism. Both Judaism and Christianity were proselytizing faiths in the declining centuries of the Roman Empire. Christianity, to be sure, possessed many of the advantages of Judaism-monotheism, scriptures-but without the defect of being associated with a defeated faith. However, Christian leaders feared that converts to Christianity n-dght well become targets for conversion to Judaism as well. Therefore they sought to limit Jewish proselytizing activity and minimize Jewish-Christian contacts. Constantine himself restored two privileges to the Jews, which were critical in Palestine. First, he allowed Jews to reside in places from which Jerusalem could be sighted, e.g. Bethlehem. Secondly, he allowed Jews to enter Jerusalem one day a year, on the ninth of Av. Previously this had been done only illegally, usually through bribery of Roman soldiers. These grants given to Jews were very important in terms of Christian doctrine. By focusing attention upon the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, which had occurred so shortly after the Crucifixion, Constantine was demonstrating that the Jews were being punished for their rejection of Jesus. No sooner had they engaged in the crime of deicide than, within a generation, they had lost their homeland and the central symbol of their faith, the Jerusalem Temple. Moreover, the concern with Palestine reflected a broader desire to infuse Christian symbols and institutions in the Holy Land. Theologically, Christianity had substituted a spiritual Jerusalem for an earthly Jerusalem. Yet practically, Palestine had been the land in which Jesus had preached and lived, and refocusing attention upon it, via Christian pilgrimages, would provide a physical symbol for Christianity's past heritage. Constantine built churches in Palestine, especially in areas in which Jesus was said to have lived. Moreover, he created holy places, or objects of pilgrimage, for devout Christians seeking to pay tribute to the life of their savior. The years following Constantine marked the major translation of Scriptures into Latin, the Vulgate translation of Saint Jerome. The Vulgate enabled Christians to study Scripture on their own and, in turn, to make them less dependent upon Jewish interpreters. Some of the new legislation was social in nature. At the Council of Antioch in 341 C.E., it was decreed that Christians may not visit Jews on the Passover holiday, nor may they eat matzot together with them. At the Council of Laodicea in 360 C.E., Christians were enjoined from accepting gifts from Jews on the holiday of Purim. Secondly, it was noted that Christians must work on Saturday and observe Sunday as the Christian Sabbath-again an attempt to prevent Christians from lapsing into Judaizing practices. In 357 C.E., the ban on Jewish proselytization was extended even to conversion to Judaism absent n-dssionary activity. Conversely, Jews were enjoined from assaulting or harassing any Jewish converts to Christianity. Similarly, Jews were banned from possessing any gentile slaves, for it was generally expected that the slave of a Jew in effect become a semi-proselyte. Holding slaves meant that one had a captive audience for conversionist activity, especially if conversion to Judaism meant freedom and emancipation. Christians now interpreted the biblical dictum of "the elder serving the younger brother" as referring to Jewish subservience to Christianity. For Jews to possess Christian slaves would violate that principle. To be sure, the ban on conversion to Judaism was observed more in the breach than in reality. We find conversions to Judaism continuing well into the Middle Ages. Increasingly, Jews suffered for accepting converts both in Christian and in Moslem lands. The fact that they continued to do so reflects the continuing esteem for conversion within Jewish history. By the end of the Middle Ages, conversion to Judaism had ceased, and at the beginning of modern times, Jewish abstention from conversionary activity became articulated as a Jewish value-namely, that others seek converts but Jews do not. Only very recently, under the leadership of Reform Judaism in America, has conversion to Judaism reentered the basic ethos of Jewish teachings and values. In articulating a program to stimulate conversion to Judaism, the Reform movement reinvoked a major theme of classical Jewish history. One fourth century Roman Emperor rejected Christianity. Julian I, "the Apostate" (361-363 C.E.), sought to weaken Christianity and restore the philosophical paganism articulated by neo-Platonists. To accomplish these aims, Julian sought to strengthen Judaism in Palestine at the expense of Christianity. Therefore, he ordered a rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple. This may also have been motivated by political concems-his ongoing war with Parthia and his desire to gain the support of Parthian Jewry-again an illustration of how diaspora Jewry's influence affected conditions in the Jewish homeland. Theologically, by rebuilding the Temple, Julian would destroy the fundamental Christian proof that the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple had signified the validity of Christianity. Work on the Temple commenced but was destroyed by fire. Christians saw this as an act of God; Jews charged Christian sabotage. Both views may be substantiated. An earthquake in Palestine in that year may well have set off underground fires, suggesting natural causes for the conflagration. However, a similar undertaking to restore a pagan temple with animal sacrifices in Antioch was also destroyed by fire. That Christian preachers had predicted that rebuilding the Temple would meet with Divine retribution may have, of course, stimulated some to instigate a fire deliberately. In any event, the damage of the fire was by no means extensive. Rather, it provided an excuse to delay work on the Jerusalem Temple until Julian had returned from his war with Parthia. During that war, Julian was killed by a Christian soldier, and the project was abandoned permanently Significantly, there is no evidence that the Palestinian Jewish Patriarchate cooperated in the venture. Julian may, in fact, have damaged the Patriarchate by abolishing the tax on diaspora Jewry raised to support it.
By the fifth century, Roman legislation concerning Judaism went much more on the offensive, inasmuch as Christianity had now become the-rather than [email protected] religion of Rome. Thus Theodosius I in 390 C.E. prohibited construction of new synagogues. To be sure, he equally prohibited the destruction of existing synagogues, although, unfortunately, this at times did occur. As a result, when Jews wished to repair a synagogue, they now claimed that the synagogue had been constructed prior to Theodosius 1. In 415 C.E. Gamaliel VI, the last of the Palestinian Jewish Patriarchs, was accused of building a synagogue as well as of circumcising slaves and adjudicating disputes among Christians. The Patriarch was punished and humiliated, setting the stage for the abolition of the institution upon his death in 429 C.E. Taxes previously directed for the Patriarchate were now directed to the imperial treasury, and the continuing symbol of Jewish autonomy and sovereignty, which traced its lineage to Davidic times, was now abolished. To be sure, outside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, in Babylonia, the exilarch of the Jews continued to claim Davidic ancestry and served as the symbol of ongoing Jewish autonomy and even sovereignty. Yet within the Roman Empire, the church had now gone on the offensive. Palestine became essentially a Christian land. Although Judaism remained a religio licita of the Roman Empire, it could be nowhere near as prominent and assertive as it had been in the last centuries of a pagan rather than Christian Rome. The Church itself had to reconsider the place of Jews and Judaism in its theology. The Church father Augustine is perhaps best known for reformulating Christian theology at the time both of Rome's decline and of her becoming Christian. Augustine's City of God is a classic statement of Christian dualism. The book was inspired by the sack of Rome by Alaric the Visigoth in 410 C.E. Augustine posed the appropriate question of how Rome could have been sacked almost immediately after she had become Christian. The answer lay in Christian dualism. Rome represented only the city of man. The ultimate city of God was a spiritual entity that was not at all subject to devastation by barbarian hordes. This dualism also explained the vision of Jews and Judaism in Christianity. The Jews represented Israel after the flesh. Their doctrine of an earthly restoration to Jerusalem was fundamentally n-dsguided. Like their ancestors who had rejected Jesus, the Jews of today conunitted a similar mistake in thinking in earthly rather than in spiritual terms. The Jews prayed every day for a physical rebuilding of their Temple. What they did not realize was that true salvation lay through faith in Jesus and not through physical expression of peoplehood and flesh. This dualism led Augustine to articulate a fundamental theological conflict between Jewish and Christian teachings. For Augustine, salvation was a matter of predestination. As Paul had stated, "The just shall live by faith," meaning that those who have been given the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus would be awarded salvation. This is not subject to free will. Man had lost his free will at the time of original sin and the fall of man from Eden. Individual human beings were chosen by an act of God. Human activity was relatively insignificant in determining whether one would be saved or not. Jewish tradition, by contrast, emphasized the centrality of free will and human action. Rabbinic Judaism had decreed that all is in the hands of heaven, except the fear of heaven-meaning that Divine rule was providential in history, but every human being is free to work out his or her own destiny. Salvation in Judaism is awarded not on the basis of a Divine gift, but to those who merit entry into Paradise. Meriting entry is very much a function of human action and inaction. Augustine illustrated this point by drawing a distinction between himself and his mother. He, the intellectual, had been tortured for many years by doubt, leading him to try every form of Christian heresy. In the Confessions he documents his intellectual joumey until he finally arrived at a position of faith in Jesus. His mother, by contrast, a woman of pure faith, was able to accept Jesus freely and lovingly. Augustine indicates, as Dante did subsequently in the Divine Comedy, that he preferred his mother's pristine faith to his own journey of doubt and intellectual struggle. Rabbinic Judaism, by contrast, placed much greater emphasis on the role of intellectual struggle. The rabbis emphasized, "Go out and study"-meaning that questions were by no means to be avoided, but rather must be intellectually engaged. Yet this contrast of Judaism and Christianity is part and parcel of the larger struggle between their views of human nature. Because Christianity saw humanity as beset by original sin, men and women were simply incapable of working out their own salvation. Jewish law was criticized because, as an intellectual doctrine, it was accessible to the human n-Lind, and mastery over it would only increase human pride and thereby sin. Judaism saw the law as a vehicle of salvation. By studying it one came to practice it, and through practice one entered into the heavenly paradise of the soul. Thus Judaism and Christianity differed fundamentally over the question of human capacity to work out personal salvation. Judaism was far more this-worldly and optimistic about human nature and emphasized the continuing relevance of Jewish law as a vehicle of salvation. Christianity was far more pessin-dstic, seeing man as irretrievably n-dred in original sin and therefore incapable of working out personal salvation. To such a mind-set, the continued presence of Judaism signaled an obsolete faith which had lost its purpose in contemporary society.
Doctrine of the Witness
Yet in practice, the Jews continued to exist centuries after the Crucifixion and the destruction of the Temple. Augustine and the other Church Fathers wrestled with this question of why Judaism continued if it had apparently lost its purpose? Augustine's answer lay in the "Doctrine of the Witness." This doctrine suggested that the continuing physical presence of the Jews was desirable because the Jews themselves provided testimony to the truth of Christianity in two ways: First, the Jews possessed Scriptures, thereby proving that Scriptures were by no means invented retrospectively by Christians to predict the coming of Jesus. Many years before Jesus had been born, the Jewish Scriptures were in existence. Christian interpreters now combed Hebrew Scriptures for alleged proofs that the authors knew of Jesus and predicted his coming.
Secondly, the physical status of the Jews provided testimony to the truth of Christianity. The Jews existed in a subjugated, secondclass status as a defeated people. The origins of that subjugation lay in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E., only 40 years after the Crucifixion. The perpetual servitude of the Jews reminded the world that the Jews are being punished for their rejection of Jesus. Therefore it was desirable that the Jew remain in Christian society. As long as Jews retained their second-class status, they would remind the world of their crime in rejecting Jesus and the validity of Jesus's teachings. Augustine confessed that he had no clear picture as to what would take place in the Second Con-dng, but he was convinced that one step in the messianic age would be the final conversion of the Jews to faith'in Jesus. As a result, Christian rulers were enjoined from eliminating the Jews. Although the Jews' status would always be second-class, the Church Fathers decreed that the Jews must be protected and not eliminated. In this context medieval Christian anti-Semitism provided a protective mechanism against the elimination of the Jews. Or, as Duns Scotus, a thirteenth century Christian theologian, put it, the Jews could be persecuted and virtually eliminated, but some of them would have to be kept alive on a deserted island until the Second Coming. Thus a certain ambivalence appears in Christian teachings concerning Judaism. The Church Fathers developed the teaching of contempt-that Jews represented Israel after the flesh and were guilty of the crime of deicide. The typology of the Jew was that of the murderous elder brother-the Cain who murdered Abel, the younger brother symbolizing Christianity. The destruction of the Temple, as prophesied by Jesus, constituted fitting retribution for the crimes of the Jews. Yet the Jews remained a valued people in terms of God's having chosen them initially, for Jesus's having been sent to them at first, and currently as witnesses to the truth of Christianity. In other words, the Jews retained their status as the people of Scripture, who had been chosen by God to receive His holy Word and Law. Therefore they had been privileged to hear first the message of Jesus. In our own day, the Jewish presence must be preserved, for the Jews are witnesses to the truth of Christianity. Despite this ambivalence-reverence for the Jews as God's chosen people, yet contempt for Jews for the crime of deicide Christian doctrine remained supersessionist. The Jews, at best, connote a fossil faith, one whose greatness lay behind it rather than in its future. Jewish aspirations for the future-visions of a restoration to Palestine and Jerusalem-reflected the Jewish obsession with the earthly and their incapacity to grasp the truly spiritual. The Jewish Christians, in this view, were equally mistaken, for they did not recognize that the law of the Jews had been made obsolete by the ministry of Jesus.
Christian heresy also inclined toward anti-Judaism. The Gnostics argued that the God of the Hebrew Bible was really the Demiurge, a demonic deity who had hidden the ultimate God and had thereby created this world and revealed himself to the Jews. The true God had remained hidden for many years, but had become flesh via the person of Jesus in order to penetrate the Den-Liurge and allow humanity to believe in Him. Yet the world as we know it continued to be ruled by the Demiurge. Therefore evil holds sway in this world. Against Augustine and Orthodox Christians who believed that the presence of evil was at most an illusion or the absence from good, the Gnostics, like mystics subsequently, argued for the reality of evil. Satan was alive and well and ruled on earth. The Jews, in this view, were the best representations of the power of Evil. The God of Israel, or the Demiurge, prevented the world from obtaining salvation through the person of Christ. The True God remained hidden in a world governed by the Den-durge, who had created this world, given the Torah to the Jews, and had prevented the full flowering of Jesus's ministry. Gershom Scholem once described Gnosticism as "the greatest case of metaphysical anti-Seniitism." Yet the primary concerns of the Gnostics were probably more with anti-Judaism than antiSemitism. Marcion, the leading Gnostic theologian, demonstrated little concern with actual Jews, but was far more concemed with demonizing Judaism and with uprooting Christianity from its Judaic roots. Gnosticism remained a Christian heresy. Orthodox Christians cannot believe in a dichotomy between the God of Israel and Jesus. The message of Christianity remained that of the Trinity constituting a unity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. However, the Gnostic heresy, to the extent that it became a popular doctrine owing to the power of mystical thought and its interpretation of the reality of evil, represented an extreme form of anti-Judaism. The Gnostics, in effect, laid the groundwork for subsequent identification of Jews with the devil and the Jewish messiah with the anti-Christ. Palestine and Palestinian Jewry remained until the m-id-seventh century under the sway of the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium. The dominant form of Christianity in Byzantium was Greek Orthodoxy, and it featured strong imperial intervention in theological matters. For example, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the sixth century prohibited the Jews from studying the Oral Law and encouraged the utilization of the G ' reek translation of the Torah (thereby detracting from the Oral Law) during the prayer service. In 614 C.E. the Persians again invaded Palestine and, with Jewish assistance, expelled the Roman authorities for three years. Jews were given partial control over Jerusalem. This represented the last period of Jewish ' olitical control in Palestine until the twentieth century The Byzantines reconquered Palestine in 629 C.E., but were in turn reconquered themselves by the Moslems in 638 C.E.
Augustine, in The City of God, asks how, so shortly after adopting Christianity, did Rome decline so badly. Theologically, his question is, if Christianity offered salvation, why did its acceptance means Rome's destruction? Augustine's answers lie in Christian dualism. The earthly city of man may be destroyed, but it ultimately pales into insignificance when compared with the city of God. True reality is spiritual rather than earthly. Significantly, rabbinic Judaism responded that God would not enter the heavenly Jerusalem until He hadfirst entered the earthly Jerusalem, suggesting that rebuilding the physical city of man took precedence over entering the heavenly city of God. Augustine's City of God, then, serves as a Christian statement of a philosophy of history. Human history is divided into several epochs. The current epoch of life after the birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus isfundamentally differentftom the preceding epoch in which the Jews had lived under the Law. Yet the world stands unredeemed until the second coming of Jesus, which all are awaiting. Augustine here offers his forecast of the "end of history," acknowledging that he is by no means certain of the precise order of events. This vision of history moving toward a definite end colored much o the Christian reading of historyfor the next two millennia.
Reading: Augustine, City of God, Book XXI, ch. 30
Heaven, too, will be the fulfillment of that Sabbath rest fore told in the command: 'Be still and see that I am God.' This, in deed, will be the ultimate Sabbath that has no evening and which the Lord foreshadowed in the account of his Creation: 'And God rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. And he blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because in it he had rested from all his work which God creat ed and made.' And we ourselves will be a 'seventh day' when we shall be filled with His blessing and remade by His sancti fication. In the stillness of that rest we shall see that He is the God whose divinity we ambitioned for ourselves when we lis tened to the seducer's words,'You shall be as Gods,'and so fell away from Him, the true God who would have given us a di vinity by participation that could never be gained by deser tion. For, where did the doing without God end but in the undoing of man through the anger of God? Only when we are remade by God and perfected by a greater grace shall we have the eternal stillness of that rest in which we shall see that He is God. Then only shall we be filled with Him when He will be all in all. For, although our good works are, in reality, His, they will be put to our account as payment for this Sabbath peace, so long as we do not claim them as our own; but, if we do, they will be reckoned as servile and out of place on the Sabbath, as the text reminds us: "The seventh day :" is the rest of the Lord.... Thou shalt not do any work there in.'In this connection, too, God has reminded us, through the Prophet Ezechiel: 'I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign be tween me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctifies them.' It is this truth that we shall realize per fectly when we shall be perfectly at rest and shall perfectly see that it is He who is God. There is a clear indication of this final Sabbath if we take the seven ages of world history as being 'days' and calculate in accordance with the data furnished by the Scriptures. The first age or day is that from Adam to the flood; the second, from the flood to Abraham. (These two 'days' were not identical in length of time, but in each there were ten generations.) Then follow the three ages, each consisting of fourteen generations, as recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew; the first, from Abraham to David; the second, from David to the transmigration to Babylon; the third, from then to Christ's nativity in the flesh. Thus, we have five ages. The sixth is the one in which we now are. It is an age not to be measured by any precise number of generations, since we are told: 'It is not for you to know the times or dates which the Father has fixed by his own authority.' After this 'day,' God will rest on the 'seventh day,' in the sense that God will make us, who are to be this seventh day, rest in Him. There is no need here to speak in detail of each of these seven 'days.' Suffice it to say that this 'seventh day' will be our Sabbath and that it will end in no evening, but only in the Lord's day-that eighth and eternal day which dawned when Christ's resurrection heralded an eternal rest both for the spirit and for the body. On that day we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise-for this is to be the end without the end of all our living, that Kingdom without end, the real goal of our present life. I am done. With God's help, I have kept my promise. This, I think, is all that I promised to do when I began this huge work. From all who think that I have 'said either too little or too much, I beg pardon; and those who are satisfied I ask, not to thank me, but to join me in rejoicing and in thanking God. Amen.
Bibliography for Further Reading
Parkes, James. The Conflict of the Church and Synagogue, Athenaeum, 1969,1977 Reuther, Rosemary. Faith and Fratricide, Beacon Books, 1974 Schiffman, Lawrence. Who Was A Jew, KTAV, 1985
Jewry and Islam
Mohammed and the Jews
Mohammed lived in seventh-century Arabia and appears to have been influenced by both Christians and Jews. He demonstrated considerable knowledge of both the Jewish Bible and legendary midrashic materials. Muslim tradition, however, claimed that the Jews distorted Scriptures. In the original version of the text of Genesis, Ishmael was the favorite son of Abraham and was to have received the promise of the Abraham-dc Covenant. The Jews distorted this record making Isaac Abraham's heir. Nevertheless, Mohammed reflected the influence of Judaism in numerous places in the Koran. He insisted upon the unity of God, denying the Christian doctrine of Trinity. Sin-dlarly, he constantly emphasized the importance of law, a Judaic doctrine in pronounced contrast to the Christian emphasis upon faith. Moreover, he stressed the role of the prophet, the Day of judgment, resurrection, and angelogy-all of which, in varying degrees, reflect the influence of Jews and Judaism.
Furthermore, Moslems believed in the importance of hadith, oral traditions which are said to go back to Mohammed and which are necessary to interpret Islamic Scriptures. This notion of oral tradition seems far more indebted to Jews and Judaism than to Christianity or other faiths.
Mohammed referred to the bearers of other monotheistic faiths as "Peoples of the Book"-a term suggesting considerable reverence and respect for fellow monotheists in contrast to pagan infidels, against whom Mohammed preached recourse to jihad, "holy war." in particular, a number of rituals introduced by Moham-tned seemed oriented toward the Jews of Arabia. For example, prayer was directed toward Jerusalem. Mohammed emphasized ritual ablutions and abstention from pork. There were, of course, Jewish communities in Arabia. These dated from Second Commonwealth times. Most likely Jews had emigrated to Arabia for trade opportunities that existed in the Roman Empire. Several Jewish kingdoms had arisen. The last of these was destroyed by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the generation prior to Mohammed's birth. By the time of Mohammed, several Jewish tribes populated various areas of the -Arabian peninsula. Most likely these possessed only fragmentary knowledge of Judaism, having been so removed from the centers of Jewish life for centuries. Mohammed seems to have come in contact with them and absorbed much of their Jewish teachings. However, his fragmentary knowledge of Judaism may well explain the considerable degree of confusion regarding Jewish thought in his teaching. In particular, the constant confusion between Jewish texts and legends is characteristic of Mohammed's writings about the Bible. Mohammed originally lived and preached in Mecca. His flight, or Hegira, to Medina is the central orientating event in Islamic heritage and constitutes year one of the Islamic calendar. This flight to Medina appears to have been motivated by a search for new allies. The Jews of Medina, in Mohammed's view, constituted fertile targets to receive his message. However, the Jews of Arabia felt little attraction to Islam. Those doctrines of Islam that appeared close to Judaism were already available to Jews. By contrast, Mohammed's insistence that he represented the "seal of prophecy"-the last and greatest of the prophets-pointedly contradicted the Judaic notion that no prophet after Moses was as great as he. Similarly, Mohammed regarded Jesus as a prophet, a doctrine which Jews could not accept, having taught that Jesus was a false messiah. Lastly, Jews most likely regarded Mohammed's depictions of Judaism as a caricature rather than an accurate representation, owing to the constant confusion between legend and history. As a result, Mohammed attacked the Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula with his army. He offered them the alternatives of conversion to Islam or expulsion. Although there were few converts to Islam, some resisted Mohammed militarily and were exterminated. Others were reduced to very heavy tribute. Mohammed preached that ideally the Arabian peninsula should be free of non-Islan-dc elements. As a result, Islan-dc doctrine declared Arabia off-limits to Jews and Chrisfians. In practice, however, echoes of Arabian Jewry have persisted into modern times. The image of Arabia as "judenrein" was more theoretical than real. However, even during the 1991 Gulf War, Jewish soldiers stationed in Arabia were instructed not to display Jewish symbols openly, so as to avoid offending Moslem sensitivities. Theologically, the Jewish roots of Islam were significant. As a monotheistic faith, Islam more closely approximated Judaism than Christianity. Where Judaism profoundly contradicted the Christian doctrine of Trinity and the resurrection of Jesus, the conflict with Islam appears to be more limited in scale, focused on whether Mohammed represented the actual "seal of prophecy". Later Jewish thinkers, particularly Maimonides, studied Islamic philosophy and appeared heavily indebted to Moslem theologians. Certainly conversion to Islam was regarded by some Jewish thinkers as considerably less reprehensible than conversion to Christianity. All agreed on the fundamentally monotheistic ideals of Islam. By contrast, Jewish thinkers were divided as to how they should view Christianity. Most acknowledged that Christianity was preferable to paganism, but controversy ensued as to how Jews ought interpret the doctrine of the Trinity. To be sure, Islam suggested a new theological conflict with Judaism virtually absent from Jewish-Christian relations-namely a conflict over territory and territorial imperatives. Moslem theologians divided the world into dar al-Islam, or "territory of Islam" and dar al-harb or "territory of the nations." Theologically, territory that had passed over into Islamic hands could never revert to territory of the nations. The land of Israel, having once been Islan-,ic land, could never revert to Jewish hands. By that reasoning, of course, the State of Israel today becomes a theological travesty, reflected in the uncompron-dsing rejection of Israel's existence as a state by fanatical Islamic groups such as Hamas or Islamic jihad. The acceptance of Israel as a Jewish State requires greater secularization, or at least a reform of traditional Islamic theology.
Jewry and the Islamic Empire
Shortly after Mohammed's death in 632 C.E., the Arabian tribes began their conquest of the Mediterranean world under the banner of Islam. Palestine itself became a Moslem territory in 638 C.E. The Arabian tribes extended their domain to Persia in the East and as far as Spain in the West. The Zoroastrian faith virtually disappeared, althou-h some Parsees persist to this day, and Zoroastrian influence concerning dualism and the reality of evil can be traced in Christian sectarian thought, emphasizing the devil and the antiChrist, throughout medieval and modern times. This conquest had pronounced implications for Jews internationally. Politically, the Arabic conquest virtually unified world jewry for the first time in over a millennium. The overwheln-dng majority of Jews now lived under Islamic rule. One principle of Jewish survival throughout the Greek and Roman periods had been that the presence of two Jewish communities acted as a safety valve ensuring Jewish survival. If Jewish life were endangered under one form of gentile rule, Jews could emigrate to another political authority. Persecutions in Byzantium, for example, might be countered by Jewish migrations to Babylonia. Political unity, therefore, posed a theoretical threat to jewry. In practice, Jewish unity under Islam was far more beneficial than harmful. It permitted Talmudic authority, expressed via the Pharisaic rabbis, to spread throughout the international Jewish community. The growth of the Arabic language provided a common medium for the transmission of culture and heritage. Lastly, the unity afforded by Islam was never absolute. Some Jews lived outside the boundaries of Islam, particularly in Christian Europe. Thus originated the ethnic, cultural, and religious distinctions between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. Although the division between Ashkenazim and Sephardim is by no means an absolute distinction between Jews living in Christian Europe and Jews living under Islamic rule, the chasm between these two groups of Jews owes its origin partially to the Islamic conquest, which did not extend to areas such as Germany and France, which, in turn, became the strongholds of Ashkenazi jewry Generally, Islamic rule tolerated Jews but denied them equal status. The term dhimmi denoted a protected people, but one with second-class status. Many Jews converted to Islam, given that Islam represented the ascendant force, while Judaism was associated with a defeated faith. Historian Salo Baron claims that Jews had once represented close to one-third of the population of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, and 10 percent of the Roman Empire. Yet Jewish numbers declined radically during the years of the Moslem conquest, as social status rose with conversion to Islam. Conversely, Moslems were prohibited from converting to Judaism. The Jews fulfilled critical ftmctions for the Islan-dc Empire. They acted as international traders providing a link between the Islan-dc and Christian worlds. There was even some involvement of Jews in the slave trade, although Jews owned very few slaves themselves, and the leading perpetrators of the slave trade were Moslem and Syrian Christian rather than Jewish. Lastly, Jews fulfilled certain bureaucratic needs of the Islamic Empire, freeing Moslems to serve in the military. Jewish status under Islam was confirmed by four basic freedoms: Jews were promised protection from injury to life, limb, and property. To be sure, some religious persecution did exist. For example, during the reign of the fanatical Caliph, Al-Hakim, 1012-1020 C.E., synagogues were bumed, and pogroms against Jews ensued owing to a hadith, or oral tradition, that Mohammed had prophesied that within 500 years of his death all Jews were to be converted. Similarly, in the 1140's, the Almohades, a Moslem tribe, compelled Jews in Spain to convert to Islam. However, these persecutions and pogroms were sporadic during the years of Islamic rule. On a day-to-day basis, Jews living under Islam reasonably could expect protection of their personal lives and property. Secondly, Jews were guaranteed freedom of worship. This provided full freedom for the development of the trappings of a religious community education, welfare, religious services, etc. The sole exception was the ban on Jewish proselytization. However, into modern times Jews enjoyed religious freedom in Islamic lands. Although political freedoms would lapse, especially in the context of the conflict with Zionism, religious freedoms were maintained, at least in theory and usually in practice.
Thirdly, Jews were granted the freedom of settlement and movement within the borders of the Islamic Empire. This freedom of settlement did not extend to the two holy cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, for Mohammed had decreed there was no room for nonbelievers within the Hejaz itself. However, the freedom to settle and move elsewhere in the Islan-dc Empire greatly assisted the Jews to function as international traders. There was no Jewish "ghetto" or area of the city in which Jews had to reside. To be sure, there was usually a Jewish quarter in which Jews voluntarily resided, but they were not compelled to limit their residence to a particular section of town. Lastly, Jews enjoyed freedom of occupation and econon-dc pursuit. This freedom greatly improxted Jewish economic status and clearly made Jewish life under Islam preferable to living under Christianity. Jews were not compelled to adopt any particular form of econon-dc activity. They availed themselves of the diversity of occupations [email protected] proffered. To be sure, Jews were encouraged to fulfill certain economic functions so as to leave Arabs free for military conquest. However, in theory, Jewish economic life was free and diverse, in pronounced contrast to Jewish life under medieval Christendom. Yet the term dhimmi clearly denoted second-class status. Jews were subject to heavy taxes simply on the grounds of being Jewish. In addition to imposing economic disabilities and providing an inducement to convert to Islam, these taxes were humiliating. Only dhimmis had to pay them, and they symbolized the inferior status of those who were fellow monotheists but not full Moslems. Other restrictions denoted the special and inferior status of dhimmis. Jews were prohibited from building new synagogues that were taller or higher than neighboring mosques. When passing a Moslem in the street, the Jew had to stand aside, denoting the inferior status of the dhimmi. Special garments, forerunners of the infamous yellow badge, were meant to designate clearly who was a Moslem and who was a dhimmi. Although many of these restrictions were more theoretical than real, they symbolized the protected yet second-class status of dhimmis. Islam waged holy war against the infidels but pern-dtted the "peoples of the book" to remain in peace, so long as they accepted second-class status. Many Jews, to be sure, preferred conversion to Islam. Jewish historian Salo Baron estimated that by the year 1200 there were only 2 million Jews left in the world, given the losses resulting from conversion coupled with the destruction of Jewish lives in the various rebellions against Rome. These restrictions also signalled some of the differences in treatment of Jews in Islamic as distinct from Christian lands. In Islan-dc lands, restrictions on garb were meant to communicate who were the rulers and who were the ruled. In Christian lands, by contrast, restrictions on dress were meant initially to segregate Jews and ultimately to exclude them from Christian society. As Mark R. Cohen has argued, only from the fifteenth century onward did the treatment of Jews in Islamic countries approximate the day-to-day treatment of Jews under medieval Christendom. This picture of protected but second-class status for Jews in the Islamic Empire has several implications for contemporary Moslem-jewish relations. First, the status of Jews under Islam was far more protected and offered greater economic opportunities than under Ch.rigtendom. Moreover, Judaism shared more in common with Islam as a religious system than it did with Christianity. However, it is a myth to speak in terms of an utopian era of Jews and Moslems living in equality and harmony. Arab historians in recent years have capitalized on this myth, suggesting that antiSen-Litism was unknown in the Moslem world and that its modern manifestations were strictly a function of the Arab-Zionist conflict. On the contrary, dhimmi status did mean humiliating and secondclass status for Jews and Judaism. Periods of persecution were by no means unknown, although they were more sporadic than under Christendom. The Arab-Zionist conflict did not invent tensions between Jews and Arabs. On the contrary, their contacts over the centuries often were filled with tension and animosity. Lastly, when Islamic lands experienced social and economic decline, as they did in the latter part of the Nhddle Ages and modem periods, the pressure against Jews and Judaism became more intense. Deteriorating social and economic conditions often increased religious fanaticism, resulting in increased persecution, pogroms, and even compulsory conversion. This deterioration occurred long before there was a modem Zionist movement. To say that Arabs and Moslems cannot be anti-Sematic for they are Sen-dtes themselves amounts to little more than semantic delusion. Rather, Moslem anti-Semitism, while very different from Christian anti-Semitism, possesses its own checkered history independent of the Christian record.
Jewish Messianism and Sectarianism
In studying Jewish messianism, we must distinguish between the messianic idea, messianic calculations, and messianic movements. The messianic idea promised a future restoration of the Jews to Palestine, coupled with a universalist vision of a world at peace. Jewish thinkers often divided between those who saw a future messianic era as gradually evolving out of present-day conditions, a medieval form of the modem idea of progress, and those who argued that the messianic era would be totally unlike anything that existed today This latter, more apocalyptic view saw messianism as the direct obverse of the idea of progress. In this view, the world would deteriorate to the point that only a radical cataclysm could alter the course of history and usher in the Redemption.
Of particular interest in this messianic idea was the theme of the warrior-messiah, the Messiah son of Joseph. This messiah would precede the Davidic messiah, do battle with the enemies of Israel, and in fact, die in battle. The precise origins of this doctrine of the Messiah son of Joseph are unclear. Some suggest they lie in attempting to account for a failed messiah, e.g. Bar-Kokhba. More likely, the doctrine relates to the age-old hope of the Jews for restoration of the unity of Israel and the return of the Ten Lost Tribes. A Messiah son of Joseph who dies in battle on behalf of the people of Israel would signify both the return of the Ephraimite tribes to the Jewish people and the final ascendancy of the House of David over the House of Joseph. Lastly, Prof. David Berger. following the late Louis Ginzberg, has argued for a typological explanation, relating the Messiah Son of Joseph to the Rabbinic legend of a failed exodus of the tribe of Ephraim from Egypt 30 years prior to the exodus of the Jews generally. In other words, an early precursor, albeit unsuccessful, of redemption is paralleled by a later precursor of a final redemption. Messianic calculation usually involved attempts, based upon biblical data, to fix the date for the arrival of the messiah. The dates fixed often were sufficiently far off in the future as to be relatively meaningless to contemporary Jews. Some calculators of the end of days, however, were themselves guilty of arousing messianic frenzy by fixing a date in the relatively near future. Messianic movements dot the entire course of medieval Jewish history. These generally reflected counter-establishment movements, led by charismatic false messianic personages, who themselves inspired followers to take up the cudgels of a messianic movement. If the establishment focused upon preservation of Jewish life in the diaspora based upon the foundations of Jewish law, these counter-establishment messianic movements advocated return to Palestine sometimes coupled with abrogations of the Jewish legal system. The rabbis encouraged the messianic idea, which set a future vision of where Jewish history should lead. They were highly ambivalent about messianic calculation, for it could be quite destructive. They were most opposed to messianic movements, for these at best would result in widespread disappointment and at worst would shatter the modus vivendi Jewish leaders had worked out for living in the diaspora. The rabbis had codified this view of messianic activity by claiming that the Jews had vowed not to return to Palestine en masse or to rebel against the nations in exchange for a pron-dse that the gentile nations would not overly oppress the Jews. These vows, which ultra-Orthodox opponents of Zionism regard as binding to this day, reflected the view of the rabbinic establishment throughout the medieval period. The most important things for Jews to db consisted of building their own lives as constructively as possible and recognizing gentile power and authority. Jews prayed daily for a future restoration, but no messianic activity ought be undertaken directly. Observance of Jewish law bound one to the Jewish community and acceptance of rabbinic authority. Messianic activity, by contrast, would not only constitute a violation of rabbinic authority, but would also be perceived as revolutionary and destructive by the gentile authorities and a rebellion against their sovereignty. Lastly, even if such messianic activity would be viewed benignly by the gentile authorities, the failure of any particular messianic movement would engender only widespread disappointment and sadness within the Jewish community at large. The messianic idea, in other words, was a particularly thisworldly idea. The rabbis downplayed messianic hysteria or fantastic dreams of other-worldly redemption. Jews were taught to think in terms of a redemption in this world involving a return to the Jewish homeland of Palestine. However, the way to reach that end was to go about ofie's day-to-day work in accordance with Jewish law, rather than to engage in concrete political activities or rebellion against gentile authority. To be sure, conflicts between world powers generally fed messianic speculations. The rise of Islam, the conquest of the Byzantine empire by the Persian Empire, or the conflict between Christendom and Islam all nurtured Jewish speculations about an end of days in which the fourth kingdom envisioned by Daniel would be destroyed and in its destruction the fifth kingdom or Kingdom of God would commence. Daniel had calculated that the messianic era would commence after "time, times and half-a-time," an indeterminate period 3 1/2 times of which would theoretically provide the date of the messiah's arrival. Historians have generally interpreted this as 3 1/2 years, meaning the time of the Syrian Greek persecution which the Hasmoneans overthrew, and on which Daniel was commenting. However, throughout the medieval period and even into modem times, Jews witnessing cataclysmic world events invoked the "time, times and half-a-time" calculation as a vehicle for detern-dning messianic dates. Ironically, the dates chosen often tumed out to be years of destruction rather than redemption. World-wide cataclysmic events often had catastrophic rather than redemptive effects upon world Jewry. 1096, 1492, and 1648-dates predicted to be "messianic"-all represented years of pogroms or expulsions. The Talmud itself offered several dates suggesting the Messiah would arrive several hundred years following the destruction of the Temple. More generally, the rabbis believed that the era of redemption was far off in the future and that Jews should concem themselves with the here and now rather than be concerned overly with the far-off future. In addressing messianism, the Talmud cited the view that the messianic era will not differ greatly from the current era. The world will continue as usual, with the difference that the Jews would be restored to their rightful place among the nations and will dwell in security. One Talmudic rabbi went so far as to say that none of the. prophecies of messianic personage recorded in the Bible will come to pass. They were all meant to refer to the biblical King Hezekiah, and since the Jews were not worthy in his time, none of these prophecies have future validity. To be sure, the rabbis rejected this view, but they did not condemn it as heresy. To Moses Maimonides, Jewish messianism was also a modified form of the idea of progress. Change will come in a slow and evolutionary way, and the arrival of the messiah will only culminate a long period of human activity. Jewish mysticism articulated a similar view that the messiah will essentially be expected to usher in a period of universal peace, restoring the harmony of the cosmos, rather than an age of worldwide cataclysms. For Maimonides, skepticism conceming particular messiahs does not imply disbelief in the messianic idea. Rather skepficism toward messiahs reflects leadership responsibility and reasonable caution. These views of the rabbinic establishment did not resonate with those severely discontented with the status quo. First, the voices of moderation essenfially asked the Jews to be content with gentile rule, exile from homeland, and the status of a defeated nation. Messianic voices, by contrast, appealed to memories of past Jewish glories and dreams of future Jewish sovereignty. Generally these movements set themselves in opposition to the prevailing rabbinic order. The rabbis, by contrast, cooperated with the Islan-dc and Christian governments to quell such movements. Gerson Cohen has noted that the Sephardic ambience was more messianically oriented than the Ashkenazi one. The political successes of Jews living in Islan-dc lands whetted their appetites for messianism. Secondly, the greater skepticism of Sephardim encouraged greater challenge to rabbinic authority, as compared with the absolute faith and piety more characterisfic of Ashkenazim, reflected in the greater tendency to Jewish martyrdom in Ashkenazic lands. Lastly, a rational society posited a Deity who was predictable-hence the value in efforts to predict an end to history. Some of the messianic movements themselves serve as good examples of these tensions. In 450 C.E. Moses of Crete led Jews into the Mediterranean, promising to part the waters to enable them to walk to Palestine. The Christian text records that as Moses and his followers drowned, so great was the disappointment among the remaining Jews of Crete that widespread conversions to Christianity ensued. In the eighth century a Jew named Abu-Issa claimed to be a prophet and precursor of the messiah. He abolished divorce, prohibited meat, and instituted prayer on a seven-times-per-day basis. Arab armies regarded him as a potential threat to Islamic rule and killed him, although his followers could be found as late as the tenth century C.E. Perhaps the most romantic figure was David Al-Roy, a twelfth century Baghdad Jew who claimed magical powers. Two impostors acting in his name urged Baghdad Jews to assemble on the rooftops to fly to Jerusalem. Jewish authorities cooperated with the Moslem authorities in having Al-Roy arrested and subsequently killed. British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli would later immortalize him in an historical novel. Messianic movements continued well into the nineteenth and twenfieth centuries. In 1840, with the failure of the messianic movement slated for the year 5600, conversions to Christianity ensued, including rabbinical authorities. Yemen, in particular, was a hotbed of messianic activity in the late nineteenth century. In the twentieth century messianism has been the province of two contrasting movements: Religious Zionism and Lubavitch Hasidism. For the religious Zionists, the creation of the State of Israel was the first step in the messianic redemption. Chief Rabbi Abraham 1. Kook had hailed World War I as the final apocalyptic battle of Gog and Magog. His son, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, greeted the Six-Day War with its conquest of judea and Samaria and the unification of Jerusalem as ultimate acts of redemption. In this view, potential surrender of territory of the historical land of Israel would negate the imminent coming of the messiah. The most extreme forms of this messianism expressed itself in a Jewish underground in the early 1980's, involving terrorist activity against Arab civilians.
Lubavitch messianism, by contrast, was rooted more in the personality of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe. Schneersohn died without heirs. In his final years speculation increased, especially among the Lubavitcher youth movement, that he was destined to be the messiah. Although Schneersohn himself never gave official sanction to such statements, and in fact his leading advisors repudiated them, widespread belief that the Rebbe was himself the messiah increased during Schneersohn's last years. His passing in 1994 raised all of the questions associated with failed messianic movements and disappointed many within the Lubavitch camp. Surprisingly, the messianic fervor continues, often expressed in advertisements placed in the New York Times and other media concerning the imminent con-dng of the messiah. Needless to add, this excitement stands in pronounced contrast to the realistic caution of Moses Maimonides in his Epistle on Martyrdom: " (If the messiah comes,)-life will be more pleasant. If he does not come, we have not lost anything; on the contrary we have gained by doing what we have to do."
Sabbetianism and its Aftermath
The background to Sabbetianism lies in the transformation of Jewish mysticism in sixteenth-century Safed in Palestine. Another response to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, in addition to the economic and social ones described in Unit XVIII, was the renewal of Jewish mysticism in the Holy Land. Under the leadership of Isaac Luria and his primary disciple, Hayyim Vital, who came to Safed in the 1560's, Kabbalism now emphasized tenets that signified renewed interest in Jewish messianism. Particularly salient among Luria's doctrines was the transmigration of souls, or reincarnation. Earlier Jewish mysticism had relegated reincarnation to the periphery-strictly as punishment for crimes of sexual deviancy. In Luria's concept, however, transmigration of souls became central. Every soul had a specific purpose to accomplish in this world. If the body died before that purpose was accomplished, the soul would be reincarnated in yet another figure who would advance the work further. All individuals, then, possess specific purpose and meaning to their lives in this world. What is the purpose? A second major doctrine of Luria's was that of tikkun olam, the repair of the world. This related to a cosmic tragedy that had taken place at the time of creation. During the process of creation, the vessels 'Containing the original emanations of sefirot had shattered. In place of the order of creation, there was now chaos. Good and evil were hopelessly intermixed. The task assigned to humanity was to restore that order, to liberate the sparks of good from the shells of evil. The original Adam had virtually accomplished the task in the Garden of Eden. However, the fall of man in partaking of the Tree of Knowledge had set the processes back. The task remained that of repair of the world. But rather than being accomplished on the sixth day of creation, as originally intended, that task had now been given over to the entire course of human history. Why had the cosmic tragedy occurred originally? Some Kabbalists assigned it to the doctrine of tzimtzum, or contraction. The doctrine of contraction asked how the infinite God could have created a finite world. The answer lay in Divine contraction, God's withdrawing from part of the universe, leaving space for this world to come into existence. In so doing, the Infinite remained Infinite (Infinity minus five is still Infinity), yet space was now created where God was not. Allowing that space to come into existence permitted the possibility for a finite universe to be created. However, given that the finite universe was a place where God was not, the possibility for evil being very real and terrible was quite strong. Yet another theory ascribed the tragedy to Divine will. Had God not permitted the cosmic tragedy to take place, there would have been no purpose to human existence. Divine contraction permitted the possibility for human beings to be free. In being free they possessed the potential for actions that could be angelic or demonic, for real freedom implied the freedom to do evil as well as good. Having that freedom gave purpose, direction, and nobility to human action. But that freedom required a contraction of Divine power, or creating a place where God was not. The cosmic tragedy thus gave purpose and direction to how humanity could utilize its freedom. Sixteenth-century Kabbalists believed that the processes of tikkun were nearly complete. The redemption was imminent, for after a long period of repair, the Divine harmony had once again been nearly restored. It was unclear what the role of the messiah would be except perhaps to declare that tikkun was complete and that redemption had arrived. However, redemption was clearly defined as the culmination of tikkun. This redemptive spirit impelled the inunigration to Palestine and particularly Safed, which was favored over the more difficult conditions in Jerusalem.
The idea of messianism in this Kabbalistic revision was restorative rather than catastrophic, for redemption would culminate a long period of human tikkun. The vision of the future was by no means apocalyptic, but rather viewed redemption as gradually evolving from a long period of constructive human endeavor. There was little emphasis, in this view, upon a personal redeemer. Exactly what the messiah himself would do was left quite unclear. What this view of redemption did accomplish was to infuse new meaning to the exile. The exile was not punishment for sin but rather a further step in the processes of tikkun-spreading the Jews out across the world to enable them to advance the process of tikkun everywhere. Ironically, this Kabbalistic view to some extent anticipated nineteenth-century Roform and neo-Orthodoxy's concept of a universalist Jewish mission to the gentiles. On a more immediate level, it explained the exile from Spain as one of the last steps in the spreading of tikkun. Sixteenth-century Safed did nurture a Jewish renewal. Moses Cordovero articulated the theoretical Kabbalah in which Kabbalistic theosophy, or knowledge of God, was defined as knowledge of the sefirot-the "words" of God, which, from a Divine perspective were part of the Infinite, but from a human perspective could be perceived as independent entities. Cordovero thereby negated the concept of the Kabbalah as being polytheistic. All the sefirot were contained within the Infinite. Human beings could perceive them only if they were independent entities. At this time, Joseph Karo authored the comprehensive code of Jewish law known as the Shulhan Arukh ("the arranged table"). This book became the definitive guidebook for the codes of Jewish practices through modern times. Karo himself was a Kabbalist as well as a halachist par excellence. More generally, Lurianic messianism proclaimed a doctrine of human perfectibility. The entire Jewish people contained within it the mission and the responsibility to redeem the world-to complete the processes of tikkun. By doing so, they would create the good society. As Gershom Scholem has noted, this form of Kabbalah approximated more the nineteenth-century idea of progress than did the classical notions of a personal redeemer. By freeing messianism of its apocalyptic elements, Kabbalah infused human activity with Divine and historical purpose. The exile now became a mission to free the sparks of good rather than punishment for sin.
Transmigration of souls would ensure that Divine purpose be continued from generation to generation.
Sabbetai Zvi was born in Smyrna in 1628. Gershon Scholem described him as a manic-depressive, performing bizarre acts in high periods of mania and subsequently regretting them in deep periods of depression. Sabbetai's actions were truly bizarre. He pronounced the Tetragrammaton, the ineffable four-letter name of the Almighty. He told the sun to stop in the heavens. He put a fish in a crib and pronounced over it that the redemption would come by the constellation of Pisces. Twice he married without consummation. A third time he married a prostitute of whom it had been prophesied that she would marry the messiah. Yet a fourth marriage was conducted with a Torah scroll. Sabbetai also changed the calendar, observing the three holidays of Succot, Passover, and Shavout all within the span of one week. He called women to the Torah reflecting an attempt at liberation of women from the repressive conditions within the Ottoman Empire and promised to free them from the ancient curse of Eve. Lastly, he abolished the historical fasts of the Jews commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem. All these actions seemed to have redemptive implications. Some of them purported to reflect the redemptive powers of the messiah himself. Others reflected a new messianic era in which the calendar would be changed and aspects of Jewish law altered. Subsequently, Sabbetai regretted these actions during periods of depression. What transformed Sabbetai from visionary to messianic pretender was Nathan of Gaza, a brilliant Talmudist and Kabbalist, who was said to have received a vision declaring Sabbetai to be the messiah. Nathan believed himself to be a reincarnation of Isaac Luria, and he quickly emerged as the critical ideologian declaring Sabbetai leader of a messianic movement. Moreover, Sabbetai received considerable support from rabbis of the time. The rabbinate was split on the issue. Initially, the rabbis excommunicated Sabbetai and exiled him from Smyrna. He went to Salonika and subsequently to Constantinople, where he was again excommunicated and beaten by the rabbis. However, rabbinic opposition to Sabbetai declined in light of the widespread repentance taking place among the Jews in Sabbetai's circles and the absence of Christian opposition. The year 1666 had been calculated as potentially a messianic year both in Jewish and in Christian circles. Moreover, Sabbetai based himself on the Lurianic doctrine that the messianic era would dawn peacefully rather than via great battles or upheavals. As a result, in Egypt and in Palestine Sabbetai received considerable rabbinic support. Opposition to him grew further away from his primary sphere of activity in the Ottoman Empire. Nathan's theology provided the movement with a belief system. In some respects, this approximated and reflected a number of Christian influences. For example, the test of who was a Jew now became belief in Sabbetai, despite the absence of specific signs that he was the redeemer. Moreover, Nathan argued that at the end of days many of the physical commandments, or mitzvot, would be abolished. Once the shells of evil had been removed and cosmic harmony been restored, there was no purpose in continuing with the specific commandments of the Jews. This obviously approxi mated the Christian doctrine of supersession, namely that the Torah of the Jews had once been purposeful but was no longer salient in the new era of Jesus. Some rabbis, to be sure, worried whether Sabbetai was only one in a long line of failed messiahs and messianic pretenders. Jacob Saspourtas in Hamburg argued that Sabbetai's failure could have adverse psychological effects, while the antinomian and Christo logical positions articulated by Nathan signaled positions radically at odds with rabbinic Judaism. Nathan had said that Sabbetai would save the soul of Jesus, and Sabbetai himself was intrigued by the relationship of Jesus to the messiah. Sabbetai was rumored to have counted Jesus as one of the prophets. The Moslem authorities, too, were concerned about Sabbetian Judaism. Although Sabbetai did not launch a political and military campaign, Moslems were concerned over the disruption of normal life and adverse economic impact within the Ottoman Empire. Therefore they imprisoned Sabbetai, although he continued to hold court while in an Ottoman prison. However, the absence of persecution against him and his followers in some respects strengthened his legitimacy, for usually rebels were put to death quietly. In arresting Sabbetai, the Moslems were apparently encouraged by Jewish authorities who articulated traditional jewish opposition to messianism. Like the Moslems, they, too, were concerned about the phenomenon of Jews, especially Jewish women, prophesying in the streets of Smyrna. Ultimately, the Moslems offered Sabbetai the choices of conversion or death. In "taking the turban," or converting to Islam, Sabbetai was said to have saved Ottoman jewry from a pogrom at the hands of the Turkish authorities. Nathan explained Sabbetai's conversion as an act of redemption. In Nathan's theology the actual function of the messiah was to liberate the last sparks of good. However, these were so closely encapsulated in shells of evil that to fulfill his task the messiah himself had to enter the midst of evil in order to liberate the good. Sabbetai's conversion, in this view, became a hidden act of tikkun. Nathan pointed to the precedents of Moses, the original redeemer, living his early life as an Egyptian, and Esther, who saved the Jewish people by becoming a Persian queen. This vision of the messiah as taking on another faith for redemptive purposes had special appeal to the Marrano Jewish population, who also saw their self-image as that of Esther and Moses. Nathan counseled that no Jews should follow Sabbetai into Islam. Most now abandoned the movement entirely, for a converted messiah was no longer a successful messiah. A tiny minority of Jews followed Sabbetai into Islam. They maintained an underground Jewish existence into the twentieth century, known as the Donmeh. Nathan did counsel Jews to continue believing in Sabbetai, whose ups and downs were now explained on the basis of the history of his soul as it struggled to attain its appropriate quotient of tikkun. Moreover, the movement did not lose complete momentum. There were many rumors of Jewish armies ready to march on Palestine, linking up with the Ten Lost Tribes in the East. Christian chiliasm, in turn, fed upon these rumors, given traditional Christian concern identifying the messiah with the destruction of the Moslem Turks. In fairness, the rumors were not given great credence by Jews, and Nathan himself discouraged belief in miracles. Nathan rejected medieval Jewish political models. He urged the Jews no longer to be dependent upon outside assistance. In the messianic era the Jews would be self-sufficient and self-reliant. In this context Nathan presaged an incipient Jewish modernity-of rebellion against the Jewish status quo and an attempt to shape the Jewish future in directions shaped by the Jews themselves rather than by relying upon external events. Sabbetai died in 1676. His apostasy followed by his death produced a crisis in Jewish messianism. Most reverted to traditional Jewish politics, although Scholem has traced a Sabbetian underground persisting even into the nineteenth century-people who openly rejoined the Jewish community, but privately believed in the messiahship of Sabbetai Zvi. The rabbis themselves attempted to restore normalcy, but the damage wrought by the Sabbetian movement was quite considerable. Hysteria persisted among the masses, who felt that Sabbetai's failure had shattered Jewish aspirations and hopes. The Sabbetians themselves explained Sabbetai's death as part of the greater travails that the messiah himself would undergo to bring the redemption. Some argued that Sabbetai had not really died but had simply ascended to heaven and awaited his return. Nathan himself continued to wander in the Mediterranean preaching the imminent "second coming" of Sabbetai Zvi. Some noted the miracle that the Jews had been saved, for the Turkish authorities had left them alone despite a virtual act of rebellion. Sabbetai's followers now split into several groups. The Donmeh consisted of about 200 fan-dlies who felt that Sabbetai had demanded their conversion as well. These led a Marrano-type existence within the Ottoman Empire, avoiding intermarriage with Turks. As a particular subgroup within the Empire, they maintained clandestine relations with rabbis in Salonika. Their estimates varied and clearly never attained numbers greater than 10,000. However, they were a critical element in the Young Turk movement of the early twentieth century, the Committee for Union and Progress, seeking to modemize Turkey as a nation-state. With the 1923 Ataturk Revolution, the CUP and the Donmeh within it felt that their task had been accomplished, and they rapidly assimilated within Turkish society. There were reports, however, of Nazi murders of Donmeh in Greece during World War 11. A more radical expression of Sabbetianism was the Frankist movement led by Jacob Frank. Frank argued for a radical reversal of values, especially sexual values. The last actions of the messiah had indeed been acts of tikkun. However, the sparks of good were now so deeply encased in shells of evil that Sabbetai's true followers had to enter the midst of evil in order to liberate the good.
Under these circumstances, the distincfions between good and evil collapsed. The good had become evil, and the evil had become good. As a result, Frank renounced the Talmud and encouraged Polish Catholic bishops to order debates with rabbis to facilitate conversion to Christianity. The disputation resulted in the burning of the Talmud in eighteenth-century Poland. Frank was persecuted by the Polish kehilla and sought revenge by testifying on behalf of blood libels against Jews. Ultimately, Frank merged into Catholicism, yet before doing so, he seems to have entertained territorial dreams of personal kingship posing as a Polish noble who imposed rigid discipline upon his followers. He provided official sanction to sexual depravity including wife-swapping and sexual orgies. Also he trained six-year-old children in the martial arts. His conversion provided a measure of relief to the rabbis of the kehilla. Frank died in 1791. However, his daughter Eva maintained his court through Napoleonic times. In fact, Frankists were numbered among the supporters of the French Revolution as well as other progressive causes. The significance of Frankism lay in its transmutation of values. The holy had become profane, and the profane had become sacred. Frank represented reversal of the traditional covenant among the Jews to sanctify the holy and desecrate the profane. Most Jews, and for that matter most followers of Sabbetai, did not express themselves in so radical a way. However, fairly widespread "moderate Sabbetianism" continued within the Jewish community through the eighteenth century. This moderate Sabbatianism accepted the apostasy and death of Sabbetai as necessary steps, for redemption was a long process, and until its final culmination, Jews must continue to live their lives as Jews. Yet moderate Sabbetianism embroiled the Jewish community in endless controversy over who was a covert Sabbetian. Some rabbis became heresy hunters, trying to ferret out closet Sabbetians among their colleagues. Others conducted clandestine Sabbetian courts in which they taught their followers the secrets of Sabbetai Zvi. For example, the conflict between two major rabbis, Jacob Emden and Jonathan Eybueschuetz, rocked the Jewish community in the mid-eighteenth century. Emden, although generally sympathetic to Moses Mendelsohnn, (see Unit XXII) was the leading heresy-hunter among the eighteenth-century rabbis. Eybueschuetz was a well-known halachist. On the basis of written evidence, Emden accused Eybueschuetz of being secretly a Sabbetian heretic. Although the Polish Council of Four Lands ultimately decided in favor of Eybueschuetz, the damage had been done in undermining the cohesiveness of Jewish communal life and respect for the rabbinate as an institufion. What then does one make of Sabbetianism? Clearly it was the most powerful messianic movement affecting Jewish history. Like other messianic movements, it failed and was destrucfive in its psychological impact upon Jews. The Sabbetian debacle left a residue of sadness and frustration within the Jewish community. To some extent modern Hasidism would be an effort to restore the joy to Jewish life after the Sabbetian catastrophe. Secondly, Sabbetianism embodied the ethos of Jewish modernism. Although ostensibly a medieval movement rooted in Jewish mysticism, the ethos of Sabbetianism, like the ethos of the Marrano phenomenon, bore a distinctively modern cast. Sabbetianism rebelled from within against Jewish tradifion. It challenged the authority of rabbinic leadership. It forecast major changes in Jewish ritual and practice. Although one should not go so far as to link Sabbetianism with the Reform movement of the nineteenth century, it is fair to say that Sabbetianism created a climate within the Jewish community in which religious changes and reform became more legitimate opfions. The early reformers clearly were not Sabbefians. However, they operated within a context in which the authority of rabbinic leadership had been challenged profoundly. Lastly, Sabbetianism challenged the basis for medieval Jewish existence. It held out the promise of the Jews forging their own destiny. It would be an overstatement to equate the Sabbetians with modern Zionists. However, modern Zionists operated also within a climate in which Jews perceived alternative possible futures. The legacy of Sabbetianism enabled Jews to consider other directions for Jewish life. In that respect, although destructive as a movement, Sabbetianism laid the foundations for new directions in modern Jewish history. The fundamental legacy of Sabbetianism, however, was frustration and despair. Like other messianic movements, although far more extensively, Sabbetianism had raised the hopes'of Jews, only to see them shattered. As far away as Amsterdam, Spinoza's secretary had written to him inquiring about his opinion concerning this messianic movement. Other reports of Sabbetianism existed as far away as England. The failure of Sabbetianism reflected the folly of placing so many hopes in a would-be redeemer. The glory of Hasidism, as we will see in the next unit, was to restore some of the joy to Jewish living given the Sabbetian failure. Ironically, Hasidim itself would spawn the next major messianic upheaval in modem Jewish history. In the late twentieth century, the followers of the Lubavitcher Rebbe would launch a frenzy of messianic activity identifying the Rebbe with the messiah. Sin-dlar lessons, however, are to be learned. The frustrated messianic expectations among the Rebbe's followers, especially in the interval since his death, have bred only disappointment and despair. Traditional rabbinic wisdom of focusing less upon a messianic redeemer and more upon constructing day-to-day Jewish lives is far healthier advice than placing bets on whether a particular individual qualifies as the messiah.
Reading: Moses Maimonides, "Laws Conceming the Installation of Kings"
During the controversy over the messiahship of Sabbetai Zvi, supporters and opponents of Sabbetai alike turned to the writings of Moses Maimonidesfor validation. Maimonides had been a leading spokesmanfor the "rational" view of the messiah, downplaying miracles and apocalyptic events. Rather, in this view, the world will continue on its present course with the critical exceptions of the security of Israel among the nations and the rule of peace in international relations. Most importantly, Maimonides had argued that rabbinic tradition was unclear about the particular course of events at the end of days, and therefore people should not exert energies seeking to calculate the messianic time or its details. Ironically, supporters of Sabbetai cited these Maimonidean statements as proof-texts that Sabbetai could still be the messiah even though he had not performed major miracles. The spirit underlying these Maimonidean writings, of course, discouraged active messianic movements.
The Messiah will arise and restore the kingdom of David to its former might. He will rebuild the sanctuary and gather the dispersed of Israel. All the laws will be reinstituted in his days as of old. Sacrifices will be offered and the Sabbatical and jubilee years will be observed exactly in accordance with the commandments of the Torah. But whoever does not believe in him or does not await his coming denies not only the rest of the prophets, but also the Torah and our teacher Moses. Do not think that the Messiah needs to perform signs and miracles, bring about a new state of things in the world, revive the dead, and the like. It is not so.... Rather it is the case in these matters that the statutes of our Torah are valid forever and eternally. Nothing can be added to them or taken away from them. And if there arise a king from the House of David who meditates on the Torah and practices its conunandments like his ancestor David in accordance with the Written and Oral Law, prevails upon all Israel to walk in the ways of the Torah and to repair its breaches [i.e., to eliminate the bad state of affairs resulting from the incomplete observance of the law], and fights the battles of the Lord, then one may properly as- sume that he is the Messiah. If he is then successful in rebuild- ing the sanctuary on its site and in gathering the dispersed of Israel, then he has in fact [as a result of his success] proven himself to be the Messiah. He will then arrange the whole world to serve only God, as it is said: "For then I shall create a pure language for the peoples that they may all call upon the name of God and serve him with one accord" (Zeph. 3:9). Let no one think that in the days of the Messiah anything of the natural course of the world will cease or that any innova- tion will be introduced into creation. Rather, the world will continue in its accustomed course. The words of Isaiah: "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the panther shall lie down with the kid" (Isa. 11:6) are a parable and an allegory which must be understood to mean that Israel will dwell securely even among the wicked of the heathen nations who are compared to a wolf and a panther. For they will all accept the true faith and will no longer rob or destroy. Likewise, all similar scriptural passages dealing with the Messiah must be regarded as figurative. Only in the Days of the Messiah will everyone know what the metaphors mean and to what they refer. The sages said: "The only difference between this world and the Days of the Messiah is the subjection of Israel to the nations." From the simple meaning of the words of the prophets it appears that at the beginning of the Days of the Messiah the war between Gog and Magog will take place.... Concerning all these things and others like them, no one knows how they will come about until they actually happen, since the words of the prophets on these matters are not clear. Even the sages have no tradition regarding them but allow themselves to be guided by the texts. Hence there are differences of opinion on the subject. In any case, the order and details of these events are not religious dogmas. Therefore a person should never occupy himself a great deal with the legendary accounts nor spend much time on the Midrashim dealing with these and similar matters. He should not regard them as of prime importance, since devoting himself to them leads neither to the fear nor to the love of God.... The sages and prophets longed for the days of the Messiah not in order to rule over the world and not to bring heathens under their control, not to be exalted by the nations, or even to eat, drink and rejoice. All they wanted was to have time for the Torah and its wisdom with no one to oppress or disturb them. In that age there will be neither fan-tine nor war, nor envy nor strife, for there will be an abundance of worldly goods. The whole world will be occupied solely with the knowledge of God. Therefore the Children of Israel will be great sages; they will know hidden things and attain an understanding of their Creator to the extent of human capability, as it is said: "For the earth shall be full of knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9).
Bibliography for Further Reading
Carlebach, Elisheva. The Pursuit of Heresy, Columbia University Press, 1990 Schechter, Solomon. "Safed in the 16th Century," Studies in Juda- ism, Athenaeum, 1970 Scholem, Gershom. "Redemption Through Sin," The Messianic Idea in Judaism, Schocken Books, 1971 . Sabbetai Sevi, Princeton University Press, 1973
The Nazi "war against the Jews" was unique in the annals of human crimes. Never before did one people set out ideologically to exterminate another people or group. To be sure, there have been many examples of atrocities in human history. Some even occurred on a scale inviting comparison with the Nazi Final Solution. Never before, however, had there been an ideological commitment to the extermination of a people. In this sense, the Nazi crime of the Final Solution was both unprecedented and unique. There was very little that was new in Nazi ideology. Nazi antiSen-titism synthesized the racial theory of history of Houston Stuart Chamberlain with the conspiratorial worldview inherent in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Like other modern anti-Semites, the Nazis exaggerated the role of the Jew in European society and world history. But if Hitler did not innovate ideologically, he utilized these themes as a "warrant for genocide." Because the Jews were seen as racial vermin and as conspiring to thwart human development, the only solution must be the elimination of world Jewry. Although Hitler articulated these themes as early as Mein Kampf, he did not move to implement the Final Solution immediately. The road to Auschwitz has been called "the twisted road," meaning that there were many changes in Nazi anti-Jewish policy. In the first year of Nazi rule, 1933, some 42 anti-Jewish laws were passed.
The next three years, 1934-1936, witnessed a relative relaxation in the treatment of Germany's Jews. The height of this "moderation" lay in the Berlin Olympics of 1936, for which Berlin was transformed into a city showcasing general tolerance. After the Olympics the treatment of Jews deteriorated. The Kristallnacht of November 10, 1938, consfituted a veritable pogrom, followed by large-scale roundups of Jews under suspicion of anti-Nazi activity. Following the pogrom the Nazis turned to encouraging Jewish en-dgration from Germany Historian Karl Schleunes has explained these twists and turns in Nazi policy as the result of a struggle within the Nazi hierarchy between ideological purists, who wished to implement a Final Solution, and economic realists, who argued that the Jew was too important internationally and too central to Germany's welfare to be elin-dnated immediately Hitler balanced the claims of these respective groups. Kristallnacht represented the triumph of the ideological purists, but was quickly followed by the ascendancy of the economic realists. With the outbreak of World War 11, and more particularly, the attack against the Soviet Union in June 1941, Hitler moved toward the Final Solution. The consequences of this "twisted road" were significant. First, for many German Jews, it meant that Hitler was an anfi-Semite, even a madman, but not really worse than any other dictator. The policy of alternafing moderate with extreme treatment lulled German Jewry into believing that the Final Solution was by no means inevitable, despite Hitler's earlier writings. This view, articulated by no less a personage than Rabbi Leo Baeck, leader of Reform Jewry in Germany, was echoed by many outside Germany. The dominant feeling in the West was that Hitler's anti-Semitism clearly was regrettable, even shameful. However, he was by no means intolerable, and many preferred him to the Bolshevik threat of Soviet Russia. In England, Winston Churchill stood virtually alone in arguing that Western civilization could not accommodate itself to the threat of Hitler. In contrast, the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Joseph P. Kennedy, argued that there was no necessary conflict between America and Germany. In Kennedy's view, only American Jewry had an interest in provoking a confrontation. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain echoed this perspective. His response to Kristallnacht was particularly instructive: "No doubt Jews aren't a lovable people; I don't care about them myself; but that is not sufficient to explain the pogrom." The initial Nazi legislation revoked Jewish emancipation. As noted, the burst of legislative activity in 1933 removed Jews from pron-dnent positions in German society and thereby encouraged their emigration. The Nuremberg legislation of 1936 defined a Jew as anyone who had at least one Jewish grandparent and who considered himself a member of the Jewish religious community. The definition was by no means exclusively racial, but partly racial and partly religious. Defining the Jews served to dehumanize them-to exclude them as a specific category. Definition was particularly necessary in the case of assimilated Jews who regarded themselves as completely German, and it divided the Jewish community by enabling s ome to think that they could escape via definitional loopholes, e.g. Jews who had worn the Iron Cross. Finally, definition deflected potential Christian opposition to anti-Jewish legislation by focusing'attention upon Jewish converts to Christianity. The churches now had to worry about the safety of converts rather than focus primary concern on the treatment of German Jews. After the Kristallnacht pogrom, the expropriation and Aryanization of Jewish businesses proceeded. In time, expropriation would become the basis for Jewish material claims for reparations by Nazi Germany. In the short run, it served to impoverish German Jewry and to compel Jewish emigration. With the outbreak of the war, the Nazis moved to ghettoize Jews in areas that they had conquered. To some extent, ghettoization was a control measure to isolate Jews from Germans and to concentrate them within a relatively restricted area. Conditions, however, within the ghetto were so abysmal that the process of decimating the Jewish community through starvation, hard work, and unsanitary conditions already began with ghettoization. Historian Isaiah Trunk has estimated that if the Nazis had done nothing in the way of a Final Solution, ghettoization alone would have destroyed the Jewish community within a decade. In June 1941, Operation Barbarossa signalled the German attack upon the Soviet Union and the launching of the Final Solution of European Jewry. As the German army marched, the Einsatzgruppen, or mobile killing units, accompanied the troops. After an area was conquered, the Einsatzgruppen ordered all the Jews in town to be gathered in a single place, stripped them of their belongings, marched them out of town to a secluded area, and then had them dig their own graves. It has been estimated that over 1,500,000 Jews died due to Nazi shootings. The process, however, was by no means foolproof. There were too many witnesses to the event, striking considerable fear among the conquered populations that they would be next. The personalized nature of the killings caused problems for the Einsatzgruppen, who had generally been recruited from the professional classes of Germany In its final stages, the Einsatzgruppen utilized death vans to kill Jews by releasing poison gas. In general, however, the Einsatzgruppen were too slow for Hitler's plan in implementing the Final Solution. An even more diabolical plan was necessary to accomplish the total elin-dnation of Jewry. Therefore, the Nazis created six death camps, the most infamous of which was Auschwitz-Birkenau. Jews throughout the conquered territories were deported to these six killing centers. They should not be confused with transit camps or labor camps. Conditions in these transit camps, such as Drancy or Bergen-Belsen, were terrible, and many people died because of illness, starvation, or extreme labor conditions. Dachau, a transit camp, was notorious. However, it was not a killing center as was Auschwitz, Treblinka, or Maidanek. Holocaust deniers acknowledged that undoubtedly many people died, given the severity of the conditions in the camps. They maliciously denied, however, that six camps were created for the express purpose of exterminating Jews. Nazism connoted a radical evil. Hitler did not simply commit atrocities against Jews. His "war against the Jews" represented a unique attempt at physical genocide of Jewry. As Elie Wiesel has put it well, "not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims."
The most difficult and perhaps most explosive question in understanding the Holocaust concerns the failure of the Jews to resist their oppressors. Although some armed resistance did occur, the overwhelming majority of Jews did not physically resist Nazi tormenters. The armed resistance that did occur was generally unsuccessful. Even the most famous example of resistance, the Warsaw Ghetto revolt, took place only after 90 percent of Warsaw's Jewry had been deported. For the diarists of the Warsaw Ghetto, the question was not why did we resist, but why did we let them go?
Yet the absence of physical resistance must be explained and understood rather than condemned. First, Soviet prisoners of war, militarily trained men, did not resist in any greater capacity than did Jews. The Nazis succeeded in terrorizing their victims and debilitating them, even if they were well-versed in the martial arts. And the Jews lacked both military training and arms. Secondly, Jews did not enjoy the friendly support of the surrounding population to facilitate armed resistance. Where the Jews were well-integrated into the resistance forces, e.g. Yugoslavia, they participated in disproportionate numbers relative to their population size. In Poland, however, where the bulk of European jewry resided, the resistance movement did not welcome them. As a result, the purpose of Jewish resistance could not be the defeat of the Nazis. Instead resistance symbolized death with dignity. Many Jews felt, under these circumstances, that there were other ways of dying w ' ith dignity-whether it be teaching Torah at the gravesite or displaying a tenacity to retain Jewish identity, life, and values, even in the face of the Nazi terror. These forms of spiritual resistance were at least as important as the physical armed resistance that did occur. The metaphor of the Jews going like "sheep to the slaughter," although widely used, constitutes an injustice against the victims. Sheep go mindlessly without thought. The victims of Nazism realized they could not defeat the Nazis physically, but existentially they could remain Jews. In this sense, resistance connoted a will to live, the creation of Jewish cultural institutions, and, lastly, the drive to communicate the story of Nazism and the Final Solution to a future court of history that would hold the Nazis accountable. When Warsaw Jews took to writing Holocaust diaries and memoirs, they were articulating a classic Jewish model in the face of oppression-to defy the present reality by insisting upon an altemative future reality, a world in which the Jews would not be victims and the Nazis would be judged as executioners. What about Jewish leadership in this age of extremity? Every ghetto was organized by a Jewish communal council, a judenrat, which the Nazis created to facilitate administration of the area. A Jewish police force insured the preservation of order within the ghetto. To be sure, there was great resentment toward the leadership of the Jewish communal councils and the Jewish police force. Many Jews felt that Jewish leaders were worse than the Nazis, for they were doing the Nazis' bidding. After the war, many charged that if the Jews had not complied with the Nazi orders, the Final Solution could never have assumed the parameters it did. No less a personality than Mahatma Gandhi argued that the Jews should have comn-dtted civil disobedience. Such judgments ignore the reality of Nazism. For Gandhi to evoke the model of non-violent resistance in India against the British government in the context of the Nazi terror is sheer blasphemy. Unlike the British, the Nazis would not have shirked from mass shootings and executions. The men who occupied positions on the communal councils or the judenrate indeed hoped to preserve Jewish life rather than end it. Their policy was two-fold: Make the Jews indispensable to the Nazi war effort through economic productivity, and preserve Jewish life on as normal a basis as possible under extreme conditions. Moreover, one cannot generalize about the judenrate as a whole. In only a tiny minority of cases, the men of the judenrat seemed to have hoped that they could ingratiate themselves with the Nazis and conducted themselves in ways that evoked charges of collaboration and treason. In some cases, the judenrat tried to support resistance forces outside the ghetto. In most cases, they hoped to hang on as long as possible until the war would be over and Jewish life could be reconstituted. Pending that day, they tried to maintain normalcy, especially with respect to education of the young and preserving family and social ties within the ghetto. To be sure, the judenrat generally opposed Jewish armed revolt on the grounds that it would be futile, result in the death of innocents, and polarize the Jewish community. The Warsaw Ghetto, for example, remained divided on the question of revolt down to its last days. Clearly, the judenrat erred in believing that it could withstand the Final Solution. judenrat members derived no personal benefit, for 80 percent were killed albeit somewhat later than most other Jews. Rather the failure of the judenrat exposed the vulnerability, isolation, and powerlessness of the Jews. The judenrat's policy of "survival through work" could not deflect the Final Solution. For what made the Final Solution possible was the dedicated conu-nitment of the Nazis to its implementation and the absence of a similar conunitment among the Allies to the rescue of Jews.
Nor can one generalize concerning the bystanders. In some places collaboration was the rule. Most shockingly, this was true in France, where, under Vichy rule, a new order was implemented to restore France to traditions of exclusion that rejected liberalism and democracy. The France of Marshall Petain was by no means the France of the Pevolution. In this France, Dreyfus was considered guilty and the Jews ought best be relegated to second-class status. Significantly, Vichy France collaborated in the deportation of foreign Jews within France. Rescue took place in areas where the bystanders did not distinguish between Jew and countrymen. This was most significant in Denmark, where the Danish king set a personal example for the rescue of Danish Jewry. In Hungary, the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg personally rescued thousands of Jews. In Bulgaria, the deportations of Jews were halted due to the combined pressure exerted by the monarchy, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the papal delegate, Cardinal Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII. Rescue did occur, but, unfortunately, the efforts mounted on behalf of rescue by no means matched the Nazi efforts at destruction. The most difficult questions concerning rescue relate to the Western democracies-Ame , t,.ie United Kingdom, and their respective Jewish communities. For America, the critical question has been the image of Franklin D. Roosevelt, long idolized by Jews as the President who had done the most to integrate Jews into American society. Beginning in 1967, with the publication of Arthur Morse's While Six Million Died, a spate of books attacked Roosevelt for his failure to act on behalf of Jews. These books indicted the American administration for failing to change American inu-nigration laws, failing to bomb the death camps, and for waiting 14 months after news of the Final Solution was known before creating the War Refugee Board in January 1944. The most extensive of these indictments was authored by David Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews. Wyman argued that Roosevelt knew the truth of the Final Solution in November 1942, but acted to create the War Refugee Board only in January 1944. Although this indictment of Roosevelt and the American government remains quite popular in Jewish circles, it ignores the political context in which Roosevelt functioned. America in the 1930's remained an isolationist country. The dominant perspectives were articulated by men such as Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and Joseph P. Kennedy-all to the effect that America had no necessary conflict with Nazi Germany. Only the Jews had a necessary conflict. Lindbergh went so far as to wam Jews not to embroil America in a war with Nazi Germany. Roosevelt, as President, aimed to change that prevailing wisdom. He, like Churchill, was convinced that the Western democracies could not live alongside Hitler. He was determined to bring America into war with Nazi Germany Rescue activities on behalf of Jews, however, would have abetted the argument made by Roosevelt's opponents that it was only the power of international Jewry that embroiled America into confrontation with Nazi Germany. No support in America existed for changing the inunigration laws. The Kristallnacht of November 1938 evoked an outpouring of pro-Jewish opinion, yet, when asked whether sympathy for Jews @hould be translated into pern-dtting Jewish refugees to enter America, groups as disparate as the American Legion and the American Federation of Labor united in opposing further Jewish inunigration. Roosevelt can be evaluated only in the context of his moving America from an isolationist to an interventionist stance. In doing so, he made possible the defeat of Hitler. Although one may criticize specifics of his policy, such as the failure to admit the St. Louis ship bearing Jewish refugees, the wholesale indictments against Roosevelt of Wyman and Morse are unfounded. Even Wyman's charge, that Roosevelt should have established a War Refugee Board as early as November 1942, ignores the reality that in 1942 the war was far from won. Rescue activity was feasible only once the course of the war was no longer in doubt. Significantly, the high tide of anti-Semitism during wartime occurred in 1944-1945, precisely the time when the Government actually undertook a rescue initiative. Anti-Semitism did not hinder the reaction of the Government, contrary to the allegations of Morse and Wyman, nearly as much as did the pressing nature of the war effort itself.
The Western democracies' failure to rescue may be partially understood as the failure of the liberal imagination to comprehend the radical evil that Hitler represented. Liberals, as children of the enlightenment, believed that human beings were naturally good and could not fathom that Hitler was truly committed to the Final Solution of the Jews as a people. All too frequently, liberals in the West tended to rationalize anti-Semitism, blaming the victim by suggesting that anti-Semitism at least partly resulted from the n-dsdeeds of the Jews. More specifically, liberals opposed emphasizing the particular nature of Jewish identity and the "Jewish question." As we have seen, the left frequently desired the assimilation of the Jews. H.G. Wells, the British intellectual, went so far as to argue that the failure of the Jews to assimilate had resulted in their current plight. As a result, liberal values of universalism to some extent conflicted with mounting a specific campaign on behalf of rescue of the Jews. One should not describe this as anti-Sen-dtism or even indifference to anti-Semitism. Rather, liberal ambivalence concerning Jews appears to have been one factor in the failure to rescue. Also lacking was the moral voice exerted by the Christian churches generally and, most importantly, by Pope Plus XII. Only in his Christmas 1942 message did the Pope condemn Nazi atrocities and even at that point failed to mention Jews. This on-dssion was of great importance. First, the moral voice of the Vatican might well have energized European Catholics to resist Hitler. Secondly, the Vatican had access to some of the best sources of information throughout Europe. Merely publicizing the news of the Final Solution would have given it credibility and made it impossible to dismiss the stories of Nazi atrocities as mere rumors or propaganda. Pope Plus XII had served as a Cardinal in Berlin under his predecessor, Plus XI, and was influenced by considerable Germanophilism. He clearly feared losing the loyalties of German Catholics, and regarded Bolshevism as a greater threat than Nazism. Perhaps most importantly, the Pope regarded it as futile to protest Nazi actions. When 3,000 priests were killed, not a word of protest emanated from the Vatican. To be sure, the Pope did engage in some limited rescue, particularly within the Vatican itself. He also apparently encouraged local bishops to protest the treatment of Jews. Yet the ambivalence of Pope Plus XII is perhaps best represented in the tragic story of Kurt Gerstein, a Catholic member of the SS who tried, unsuccessfully, to report the news of the Final Solution to the Pope. Ultimately, in frustration, Gerstein committed suicide. The question of American jewry and its leadership is perhaps both more painful and more controversial. Clearly, American Jewry was disunited. The Zionists, the Orthodox, the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, Reform leadership-all had differing visions as to what should be done on behalf of Jews abroad. The absence of unity did not determine whether the American government would act. However, it did pern-dt the disn-dssal of Jewish requests on the grounds that one could not satisfy the Jews in any case. Particularly illustrative was the failure of the campaign to boycott German-made goods. The boycott was the brainchild of Rabbi Stephen Wise and the American Jewish Congress. The hope was to gamer gentile support and thereby damage German trade abroad. However, the boycott evoked a polarized response within the Jewish conirnunity. The American Jewish Comn-tittee felt that a public boycott of German-made goods would abet the conspiracy myth of a Jewish plot to take over the world. In addition, Jewish leadership in Germany opposed the boycott, and the American Jewish Committee, largely comprised of Jews of German ancestry, naturally turned to their brethren in Germany for instruction and guidance. Lastly, the Zionist Organization also opposed the boycott because it was engaging in the transfer of German Jews to Palesfine by providing Germany with a market for its goods in Palestine. Whether the boycott would have worked or not is questionable. Clearly, the controversy over the boycott demonstrated how fragmented American Jewry was and its inability to mount a sustained campaign on behalf of rescue. To be sure, one must understand that American Jewry constituted in the 1930's a relatively new community, unsure of itself, fearful of domestic anti-Sen-dtism, and struggling to meet its own needs during the Great Depression. Most importantly, Jewish leaders regarded Roosevelt as their primary friend and feared actions that n-dght undermine Roosevelt or play into the hands of his domestic enen-des, many of whom were openly anti-Semific. In addition, some mistakes clearly were made. The most renowned leader of American Jewry at the time, Rabbi Stephen Wise, believed that he was the appropriate messenger to the Roosevelt administration. In fact, Wise lacked sufficient leverage and influence with the President. Had he tried to reach the Jews in Roosevelt's inner circle-the Bemard Baruchs, the Felix Frankfurters, the Sam Rosenmans, and the Ben Cohens-he might have been more effective. In fact, that was how the War Refugee Board was created-namely Roosevelt's Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, was energized by gentile attorneys on his staff to advocate that more be done to rescue Jews. But the critical lessons of Jewish political activity relate neither to Jewish disunity nor to errors of judgment. The most critical lesson relates to Jewish powerlessness. American Jewry in the 1930's lacked allies. They were isolated in a period of unprecedented organized American anti-Semitism. Similarly in England, their counterparts lacked the capacity to mount effective protests against England's policies lin-dting [email protected] to Palestine, which was the only realistic refuge for European Jewry. In Palestine itself, Moshe Shertok (later Sharett) was unable even to obtain a visa to engage in diplomatic representation with an emissary from the Jewish ghetto in Budapest, Joel Brand. In this sense, Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer has argued that the real lessons of the Holocaust do not lie in "never again." The slogan "never again ' " presupposes that man's inhumanity to man can never be permitted to triumph. Certainly it is a pious slogan, but it is one that we cannot guarantee. If the Holocaust happened once, there can be no pron-dses that a Holocaust will never recur. Therefore, Bauer argues, the real lesson lies not in "never again," but rather in "never again should je'ws be so isolated." The Holocaust years coincided with significant decline in Jewish political influence and power and the absence of friendly allies and coalition partners who shared Jewish aims and objectives. Where the Jews were able to find friendly, supportive populations, such as Bulgaria or even Italy, their survival rates and their integration into the general resistance were suprisingly high. Where the Jews remained isolated, as in Poland, the Final Solution proceeded unchecked.
Since the end of World War II, these questions of Holocaust uniqueness, resistance, and rescue have been debated extensively by historians and philosophers. Hannah Arendt was generally regarded as uncharitable in her view of the victims by suggesting that the banality of evil that characterized Adolf Eichmann extended to his victims as well-namely, that [email protected] evil became commonplace, everyone lacked the will to resist it. Many of these debates have a political context. Those who have argued that the Holocaust must be relativized are, on the one hand, rehabilitating German history by arguing that the Holocaust was an atrocity, but no worse than many other atrocities in the twentieth century. These German historians, led by Ernest Nolte, are generally partisans of the German right, seeking to rehabilitate German nationalism and conservative traditions. Ironically, in America, their counterparts lie on the left. American attempts at relativization seek to equate the Holocaust with the treatment of the American Indian, or with Black slavery Both positions are extreme and, rightfully, ought be repudiated. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington recognizes that there have been other atrocifies in history, and that Jews were by no means the only victims of Nazism. However, the primary message of the Holocaust Museum is one of Holocaust uniqueness. Ideologically, the Nazis were committed to perpetrating the Final Solution and the total elimination of the Jews. That fact remains historically unprecedented. For that reason, the uniqueness of the Holocaust must be remembered as the single greatest crime in human history.
Reading: Jacob Glatstein ed., Anthology of Holocaust Literature
Elie Wiesel has been the spokesman of this generation for the Holocaust. No writer has so succeeded in telling the story of the Shoah as has Wiesel through his remarkable progression of novels. Note, in particular, Wiesel's pathos in describing the conflict betweenfather and son concerning a piece of bread in the nightmare of the death train.
Elie Wiesel, The Death Train Translated from the Yiddish by Moshe Spiegel
Indescribable confusion reigned. Parents searched for their children, children for their parents, and lonely captives for their friends. The people were beset by loneliness. Everyone feared that the outcome of the journey would be tragic and would claim its toll of lives. And so one yearned to have the companionship of someone who would stand by with a word, with a loving glance.
Afterward, an ominous silence fell upon us. We squatted on the soft snow that covered the floor of the railroad car like a carpet, and tried to keep warm by drawing closer to our neighbors. When the train started to move, no one paid any attention to it. Careworn and burdened with conflicting thoughts, each of us wondered if he was wise to continue on the journey. But in our weariness, whether one died today, tomorrow, a week or a generation later, hardly seemed to matter. The night dragged on intern-Linably, as though it were to go on to the end of time. When the gray dawn appeared in the east, I felt as though I had spent a night in a tomb haunted by evil spirits. Human beings, defeated and broken, sat like dusty tombstones in the dim light of early dawn. I looked about the subdued throng and tried to distinguish one from another. And, indeed, perhaps there was no distinction. My gaze fell on one who stared blankly ahead. A wry smile seemed to play on his ice-encrusted face. Those glazed eyes, whether living or dead, seemed to ensnare my gaze. A hundred and twenty captives, shadows of human lives, extinguished flames of burned-out candles lit on the anniversaries of the deaths of their loved ones. Wrapped in a drenched blanket, his black cap pulled down over his ears, a layer of snow on his shoulders, my father sat beside me. Could it be that he, too, was dead? The thought flashed across my mind. I tried to talk to him. I wanted to shout, but all I could do was mutter. He did not reply, he did not utter a sound. I was certain that from then on I was to be all alone, all alone. Then I was filled with a numbing sense of indifference to everyone and to myself. Well, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. The struggle was over. There was nothing and no one for whom to fight now. The train ground to an abrupt halt in a snow-covered field. Awakened by the jolt, a few curious captives struggled to their feet to look out. The scene was reminiscent of cattle staring stupidly from a livestock car. German S.S. guards surrounded the human cargo, shouting, "All the dead are to be thrown out! All the dead are to be thrown out!"
The living were pleased; there would be more space. It would not be as crowded now. Strong men appeared and exan-dned each one who could not stand up, and rapped out, "Here's one! Get hold of him!" Whereupon two men would pick the corpse by the shoul ders and feet and fling it out of the car like a sack of flour. From various parts of the car came such cries as, "Here's an other-my neighbor! He doesn't move. Help me get rid of him!" Two deportees stepped forward and tried to lift a form be side me. It was only then that I was aroused from my stupor, and realized the seriousness of the situation. And to this day I cannot understand how I summoned the strength and courage to save my father from the lurking death. I kneeled over him, tearing at his clothes, slapping his face, kissing him and screaming, "Daddy, Daddy-wake up! Get up, Daddy! Don't let them throw you out of the car." As he failed to respond, the two men said 'Lo me, "There's no use your screan-dng, little fellow. He's dead! Your father is dead, do you understand?" "No! He is not dead! He's not dead!" I wailed, repeating the words over and over indefinitely. For some reason, I seemed to fear the death of my father more than my own. I tried again and again to release him from the embrace of the angels of death, and I succeeded at last. My father opened his glazed, ice-encrusted eyes, and regard ed me in a dazed way, unable to understand what I was trying to convey to him or the commotion that was being made over him. "See for yourselves, you murderers. He's alive, he's living!" The two men eyed my father for a moment, then shrugged their shoulders and muttered, "Not for long," and tumed to other silent forms. There were some twenty-odd dead in our one car, and after they were stripped of their clothes, which the living snatched up, they were flung out of the car. This task took several hours. Then the train chugged along, and as icy gusts shrieked about it, it seemed that through the accursed world about us could be heard the far-away, muffled wail of the naked bodies that had been abandoned on Polish snow-covered fields.
The journey was insufferable; and every one who lived through it later questioned the natural laws that their survival seemed to disprove. We were deprived of even bread and water, and snow was our only source of water. Cramped for space and thoroughly chilled, we were very weak by the third day of the journey. Days were turned into nights, and the nights cast a shadow of doom over our very souls. The train plodded along for what seemed countless days, and the snow fell, fell, fell incessantly. And the exhausted, travel-weary unfortunates lay huddled for days on end, without uttering a word, eyes closed, waiting for one thing onlythe next station, where the new yield of corpses would be got rid of. That was what we looked forward to. The journey lasted ten interminable days and nights. Each day claimed its toll of victims an.d each night paid its homage to the Angel of Death. We passed through German settlements, generally in the early morning hours, only in a few instances. Sometimes men on their way to work would halt in their tracks to glare at us as though we were animals in a kind of demonic circus. Once a German hurled a chunk of bread into our car and caused pandemonium to break out as scores of fan-dshed men fought each other in an effort to pounce upon it. A-nd the German workers eyed the spectacle with sneering amusement. Unfortunately, the Torah does not relate how the children of Israel received the first manna in the wilderness. Did they fight over it, and were there any casualties? A-nd did scenes like the one in our car take place there? The German workers tarried a while, gazing at the amusing spectacle, and perhaps assuaging their conscience at the same time with the thought of their benevolence in giving bread to the hungry. All the other German workers soon followed the example of their kindhearted townsmen. Pieces of bread were cast into all the cars. Bread and victims. And they-the good, gallant Germans-were pleased with themselves and smiled. Strange, even while jotting down these words, the event seems incredible to me. I seem to be writing a horror novel-a novel that should not be read at night. It is hard to believe that what I set down in writing is really true, has actually happened to me.
And only ten years ago! I think to myself: if all that is alive in my memory, and that is seething in my heart, is really true, how am I able to sleep at night? How can I eat my food in peace? I can still see the scenes I experienced that early morning when the bits of bread fell from heaven. Unfortunately, the bread also fell into our car. Though I was very hungry, my exhaustion was stronger. So I didn't budge from my spot, refusing to take part in what was going on. Let bread drop down-even from heaven. I would not risk my life to get it. I lacked the strength not only to fight for the hard crusts, but even to eat them. So I squatted in my corner, watch ing how human beings turned into animals as they attempted to snatch the morsels of food from each others' mouths. A piece of the heavenly bread fell in a corner of the car; the next moment another comer was emptied of its occupants. Not far from me'a young lad bit the ear of someone standing in front of him, in order to get to the priceless bread first. The injured person, bent only upon reaching the bread, was obliv ious to the pain. I suddenly beheld a frail, elderly Jew crawling along the floor, one hand clutching his chest. At first I thought that he had been hurt in the fight. But then I saw him take a handful of crumbs from his bosom and devour them almost with ecstasy. A sly smile played upon his deathly pale face for a moment, and disappeared. Then someone pounced on the old man like a phantom, and the two engaged in a death struggle, clawing, biting, trampling, kicking one another. The old man managed to raise his head, a glint of joy in his bloodshot eyes. "Little Meyer! Meyer, my son," the graybeard mumbled, "Didn't yoti recognize me? You have hurt me so much...... Meyer still struggled to retrieve a piece of bread from his fa ther's bosom. Then the dying old man groaned, "Meyer, you're beating your own father ... I brought bread for you, too. I had risked my life ... and you're hitting, beating my your old father...... The old man seemed on the verge of death, he no longer made any sound. Meyer had triumphed; his right hand clutched the small piece of bread, and his left wiped the blood trickling from one of his eyes. The old man held a piece of bread in his clenched fist and tried to bring it up to his mouth-to die with the taste of food in his mouth. His eyes were alert now; he was clearly aware of the situation. He was at the portals of death-a condition in which one comprehends all that goes on about him. As he brought the hand with the bread closer to his half-opened mouth, his face glowed with lust for the bread.... It seemed as though the old man was holding back the bread intentionally, so that the pleasure of the anticipated feast should last longer. The eyes seemed about to burst from their sockets. And as the old man was about to bite into the bread with his darkened, broken teeth, Meyer once more pounced upon him and snatched the bread from him. The old man muttered, "What? A last will and testament?" But, except for me, neither his son nor anyone else heard him. At last he breathed his last; and his orphaned son ate the bread. He was sptawled on the floor of the car, his right hand stretched out as though protesting to God, who had transformed Meyer into a murderer. I could not bear to look at the old man for long. The son soon found himself engaged in a new struggle. Catching sight of the bread in his hand, others then pounced upon him. He tried to defend himself, but the furious throng, thirsting for blood in their frenzy, killed him. And so the two of them, father and son, victims of the struggle for bread, were trampled upon. Both perished starved and alone. Suddenly, I had the feeling that someone was laughing behind me, and I wondered who it was. But I was afraid to look around for fear of Teaming that the laughter was not coming from behind me, but from myself. I was fifteen years old then. Do you understand fifteen? Is it any wonder that I, along with my generation, do not believe either in God or in man; in the feelings of a son, in the love of a father. Is it any wonder that I cannot realize that I myself experienced this thing, that my childish eyes had witnessed it? Meir Katz, a robust, energetic Jew with a thundering voice, an old friend of my father, was with us in the car. He worked as a gardener in Buna. He conducted himself gallantly, both physically and morally. He was placed in command of the human cargo in our car because of his strength. It was thanks to him that I finally arrived alive in the Buchenwald concentration camp. It was during the third night of our joumey or was it some other?-we lost track of time. We squatted, trying to doze off, when I was suddenly awakened by someone choking me. With superhuman effort, I managed to shout one word-"Fa ther!" That was all I managed to get out, as the unknown at tacker was choking off my breath. Fortunately, my father awakened and tried to free me from the stranglehold. Unable to do so, however, he appealed to Meir Katz for help, where upon the latter came to my rescue. I didn't know the strangler or the reason for his violent act. After all, I had carried no bread with me. It may have been a sudden fit of insanity, or-just a case of mistaken identity. Meir Katz also died during that joumey. A few days before we reached Buchenwald, he said to my father, "Shloime, I'm on my way out.I can't stand it any longer." "Meir, don't give up!" my father tried to hearten him. "Bear up! You've got to! Try to have courage!" "Shloime, it's no use-I'm washed-out," Meir muttered. "I can't go on." Then the sturdy Meir Katz broke down and sobbed, mourn ing his son, who was killed in the early days of the Hitler ter ror. On the last day of the joumey, bitter cold, accompanied by a heavy snowfall, aggravated the situation even more. The end seemed to be near. Then someone warned, "Fellow Jews, in such weather, we've got to move about; we must not sit mo tionless-or we'll all freeze to death!" So we all got up-even those who seemed to be dying-and wrapped our drenched blankets about our bodies. The scene was reminiscent of a congregation wrapped in prayer shawls, swaying to and fro in prayer. The snow, the car, even the sky (heaven?) everything and everybody seemed to be swaying, worshipping, communing with God, uttering the prayer of life, the prayer of death. The sword of the Angel of Death was suspended above. A congregation of corpses at prayer. A shout, an outcry like that of a wounded animal, suddenly rent the air in the car. The effect was terrifying and some of the people could not endure it silently, and themselves began to scream. Their outcries seemed to come from another world. Soon the rest of us joined in the uproar; screaming and shrieking filled the air. The deafening roar rode the gusts of wind and amid the swirling snow soared to heaven, but, echoing from the closed gates there, reverberated back to earth. Before long, twenty-five cars crowded with deportees joined us in the hysterical song of death. Everyone had reached the breaking point. The end was drawing near. The train was struggling up the hill of the Thyring forest. The divine tragicomedy was approaching its finale. There were no longer any illusions about surviving; the thousands of deportees were aware of their doom. "Why don't they mow us down on the spot?" Meir Katz askea through tears. "We could at least be spared further agony. "Reb Meir, we'll soon arrive at our destination," I tried to comfort him. But the wind drowned out my words. We stood in the open car, under the falling snow, screaming hysterically. We arrived at the Buchenwald concentration camp late at night. "Security police" of the camp came forward to unload the human cargo. The dead were left in the cars. Only those who were able to drag their feet got out. Meir Katz was left in the car; like so many others, he had frozen to death a short time before we reached our destination. The journey itself was the worst part of the ordeal. About forty of the deportees were claimed by death on that one day alone. Our car had originally started out with a hundred and twenty souls; twelve-among them my father and I-had survived the ordeal.