Rabbi Ezriel Tauber: Those Who Became Non-Observant Because Of The Holocaust “From The Erev Rav”

Rabbi Gil Student has a post on Rabbi Ezriel Tauber’s theological explanation of the Holocaust:

R. Ezriel Tauber is himself a survivor of the Holocaust, which gives him the permission to discuss its theological ramifications that most others lack. Why did God allow it to happen? Why did God cause, or allow, such horrible suffering and death? In his book Darkness Before Dawn, R. Tauber attempts to answer those questions. The book is worth reading if only for the many stories it contains, some horrifying, all inspiring.

R. Tauber’s basic answer is that the suffering and death were not Divine punishments but opportunities for spiritual growth through resistance. And even those who did not grow are surely not to blame, given the duress under which they were placed. As individuals and as a group, the martyrs and survivors of the Holocaust also serve as an inspiration to future generations and as guides for how to live our religious lives.

However, this idea ignores the medieval philosophers and commentators who discuss whether there is an exception to the idea that God will not inflict undeserved suffering. According to some, that is the definition of Yissurin Shel Ahavah. According to others, even Yissurin Shel Ahavah require sin.

Furthermore, it raises the question of Divine justice. It says that God would inflict horrific suffering on an individual to see if he will grow from it. In other words, it does not answer the question of the suffering of the Holocaust but only restates it in other words. One is still left with the same questions, even after reading the whole book.

R. Tauber is not unaware of the many Jews who became non-religious because of the Holocaust. Why did that happen? He answers that either they were destined to become non-religious anyway or their souls were of the Erev Rav whose “original conversion to Judaism was laced with questionable, ulterior motives” (pp. 255-256).

Or perhaps they were just fed up with the many haredi rabbis who told them to stay in Europe, told them not to go to Israel, told them not to come to America, and often told them the Germans would not harm them. Perhaps that – and gas chambers, crematoria, and soot of babies – is why so many survivors left Judaism.

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Rabbi Ezriel Tauber: Those Who Became Non-Observant Because Of The Holocaust “From The Erev Rav”

  1. Rack and Ruin

    Failed Moshiach wrote, “Or perhaps they were just fed up with the many haredi rabbis who told them to stay in Europe, told them not to go to Israel, told them not to come to America, and often told them the Germans would not harm them. Perhaps that – and gas chambers, crematoria, and soot of babies – is why so many survivors left Judaism”

    This thinking is step one on the downward ladder to complete assimilation. Rack and Ruin. Who are your to judge a decision of a Rav circa pre war Europe? Who are you to denigrate the suffering of Holy Jews? Was not a Jewish child’s fate going kiddush Hashem in the flames infinitely better than that of his assimilated American cousin? Do you believe in the olam haba? For a believing Jew assimilation is far worse than death.

  2. uzziahu

    r&ruin
    and who are u? ruin! and who is r’tauber?
    how does he know?
    i got a good one, could the alter rebbe be erev rav? see what turned with from his son!
    people like tauber are pushing jews out of the fold with this puerile way of thinking.

  3. Rack and Ruin, there’s always the potential that from assimilation, Jews will return. And many do. But they can only do that when they’re alive.

    Nobody denigrated their suffering…just questioning the necessity.

  4. Howard Katz

    I’d like to comment on one absolutely – to my mind – astounding statement in the above discussion. That statement – actually a couple – is (are) as follows: Was not a Jewish child’s fate going kiddush Hashem in the flames infinitely better than that of his assimilated American cousin? Do you believe in the olam haba? For a believing Jew assimilation is far worse than death.

    Huh? No, a Jewish child’s fate “going” kiddush Hashem was NOT infinitely better -or better at all – than his assimilated American cousin. It was, in fact, infinitely, hellishly, worse. This mindset, which, I take it, is typical of haredim, is so bizarre that it makes it, in my opinion, almost impossible to have dialouge on the subject.

  5. Anonymous

    You have a child like view of history. There was no such term as “Charedi” in pre-war Europe so there could not have been “Charedi” rabbis who did anything.

    The fact is that the rabbonim of pre-war Europe did not anticipate the Holocaust and therefore did not tell anybody to leave. In their defense, hardly anybody else, and perhaps nobody else, in the whole world anticipated the Holocaust either.

    As for the individual actions of individual Rabbonim, there were those who ensured their personal safety, and others, such as Rabbi Joseph Carlebach, zazt”l, who forsook opportunity to escape and deliberately shared the same fate as their followers. Others, such as Rabbi Weismandel, zazt”l, warned their followers to flee and devoted themselves to rescue. I am sure that others never understood the enormity of the destruction until it was too late.

    As for persons giving up being observant or Jewish, some no doubt lost faith and others probably gave it up because they did simply not practice it for so long.

    Anger at the rabbis for not warning them to emigrate is probably a trivial part of the equation. After all, how many could have emigrated even if they wanted to? There were many Jews in Germany who desparately wanted to laeve but could not because they had no country who would take them in.

    It is easy to crticize the actions of others faced with death. But are you so sure how you would have acted under those horrible circumstances that you can act as judge?

  6. Nigritude Ultramarine

    their souls were of the Erev Rav whose “original conversion to Judaism was laced with questionable, ulterior motives

    “Cocaine is a helluva drug.”

    /Rick James

  7. anon

    That book is at least 15 years old, why bring it up now?

  8. anon

    That book is at least 15 years old, why bring it up now?

  9. ah yid

    uzziahu

    i heard here and there about the alter rebbe’s son but nothing solid can you give more info about it?

  10. ah yid

    uzziahu

    i heard here and there about the alter rebbe’s son but nothing solid can you give more info about it?

  11. uzziahu

    howard katz
    is that u howie originally from DC ?
    1973/74 esh esh chamishim vechamesh ?
    qetura?
    if so please let me know either here or by email to my address given.
    although the topic is far from those we had during war time, the verve and spunk says yes it could be you!

  12. uzzuiahu

    a yid
    look it up in this very site search.
    i then thought and still think that it was a personal tragedy .
    although, the logic is the same.
    we are all tzadikim(scoundrels and all), those who are not, are erev rav.
    see avraham avinu and isaac, they gave birth to yishmael and essau , just the same, their parents were erev rav.
    oh! yishmael did tshuva, ok fine, not so erev rav. medium erev rav!
    give me a break!

  13. Anonymous

    Oh those Haredim ehh? 2 sides to every story.

    In 1938 July 6-15, President Roosevelt convened the Evian conference to deal with the Jewish refugee problem. The Jewish Agency delegation headed by Golda Meir (Meirson) ignored a German offer to allow Jews to emigrate to other countries for $250 a head, and the other Jewish groups made no effort to influence the United States and the 32 other countries attending the conference to allow immigration of German and Austrian Jews.

    Yitzhak Greenbaum, Chairman of the Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency, addressing the Zionist Executive Council in Tel Aviv Feb. 18 1943 said, “when they asked me, “couldn’t you give money out of the United Jewish Appeal funds for the rescue of Jews in Europe, I said NO! and I say again, NO!…

    On Feb. 24, 1943 Stephen Wise, President of the American Jewish Congress and leader of the American Zionists issued a public refusal to this offer and declared no collection of funds would seem justified.

    On Feb 1, 1940 Henry Montor executive vice-President of the United Jewish Appeal refused to intervene for a shipload of Jewish refugees stranded on the Danube river, stating that “Palestine cannot be flooded with… old people or with undesirables.”

    It is an historical fact that in 1941 and again in 1942, the German Gestapo offered all European Jews transit to Spain, if they would relinquish all their property in Germany and Occupied France; on condition that:
    a) none of the deportees travel from Spain to Palestine; and
    b) all the deportees be transported from Spain to the USA or British colonies, and there to remain; with entry visas to be arranged by the Jews living there; and
    c) $1000.00 ransom for each family to be furnished by the Agency, payable upon the arrival of the family at the Spanish border at the rate of 1000 families daily.

    In 1947 Congressman William Stration sponsored a bill to immediately grant entry to the United States of 400,000 displaced persons. The bill was not passed after it was publicly denounced by the Zionist leadership.

    The Jewish Agency delegation headed by Golda Meir (Meirson) ignored a German offer to allow Jews to emigrate to other countries for $250 a head, and the Zionists made no effort to influence the United States and the 32 other countries attending the conference to allow immigration of German and Austrian Jews.

    These and all the Judenrat who mostly were non haredim killed more Jews and put more Jews into the cattle cars then any of these old seminary Rabbis did. At least those Rabbis and they were the majority, died with their pupils. Judenrats were only out for their own azz and made sure nobody failed to make the umschlagplatz lest they take thier place.

  14. The above comment is a perfectr example of what lengths haredim go to. If one actually reads entire documents those small excerpts are based on, one will quickly see that selective, out of context quotes equal lies.

    One brief example. The Official American Jewish community often said they would not send money to Europe to rescue Jews. They did this because it was illegal to send money to Nazi-occupied Europe. What the community did, mostly through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, is use a series of subterfuges to get the money over there to save people.

    Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wisenthal Center has done extensive research about this, and has published a book documenting it. The same book also documents haredi efforts to save top rabbis and yeshiva students while ***IGNORING EVERY OTHER JEW***.

    Jonathan Rosenblum’s protestations notwithstanding, Zuroff’s arguments still stand.

  15. One can also read Eim Habanim Semeicha by Rabbi Teichtal. A haredi, he was witness to many Hungarian anti-Zionist haredi rabbis telling their congrgants there was ***NO REASON TO FLEE***. Why? Because we are against Zionisim, and God will save us as a result. This was in 1943-44.

  16. Shmuel

    Wasn’t Zev Jabotinsky running around Europe, yelling that all Jews should leave, that a destruction was just around the corner? I seem to recall reading that. Well, the question then becomes, When the rabbis of eastern Europe heard Jobotinsky’s declarations, what exactly was their response? Did they ignore him, and urge their followers to do the same? If so, where was their vision? Perhaps we should add this to my Daas Torah guest post.

  17. Isa

    Zev Jabotinsky was a navi and was denounced by these heredi rabbis.

  18. Anonymous

    Wether you like the Haredi quotes or not, the fact is that the people who were ready to put their own parents on the train(they were old after all right)to save their own skin are people who were far removed from rabbis or chassidism, your kind of people Rosenberg.

    And if it was against the law to send money to Nazi Germany, why the loud public statements against it instead of justing gathering quietly and hush hush to do it?

    Maybe because thats what they meant.!!!!

    And by the way, do favor us with a list of what your family was doing during the war while you point fingers at others in Judgemenmt. Please do tell us what your family did or did not do for anyone that their son should be foaming and hurling invectives at others.

  19. “… the people who were ready to put their own parents on the train(they were old after all right)to save their own skin are people who were far removed from rabbis or chassidism, your kind of people Rosenberg.”

    To my knowledge, the is no documented example of this. Hurling invective without proof to smear Holocaust survivors – you’ve reached a new low, moron.

  20. Yochanan Lavie

    How can anyone, even a survivor, question the motives of those who lost their faith in the Holocaust? Wouldn’t it be natural to be angry against God? It seems no sin is so heinous as to justify Megele’s experments on children, for example, whether it’s Zionism, anti-Zionism, assimilation, not wearing Rabbenu Tam’s tefillin, whatever. Maybe God lets people exercise their (evil) free will, and runs the world according to the laws of nature. Recompense is in olam haba, not in this world.

    As for the eruv rav, how the hell does he know whose neshamot are those?

  21. Anonymous

    “Hurling invective without proof to smear Holocaust survivors.”

    You mean to smear collaborators.Those who violated Al Taamod Al Daam Reyecha? Who didnt have the guts to say to then Nazis Yemach to make their own goddam list of deportees?

    No you smear the memories of those who fought as Partisans and fought in the Ghettos. Who didnt turn their brothers over.
    Is it so hard to understand you neo-kapo.

  22. Again, bring any academic sources (not neturei Karta and Satmar tracts) to support what you write.

    Otherwise, my point stands.

    Hurling invective at survivors is sick.

  23. Eddie

    Rabbi Tauber is a saintly Rabbi that has made it his lifes mission to educate secular Jews like myself and help us to reidentify with our Jewish heritage. His morning Torah class begins at 5 AM and is well attended by the Monsey community. There are few Rabbis as concerned and well meaning as Rabbi Tauber, and completely selfless.

  24. Larry

    holy, holy, holy
    nothing is holy but hashem tzvoos ….
    otherwise, he can darshen everyday from midnite to shachris. if he talks nonsense, he talks nonsense.
    this is called in normal parlance, a pep talk. you, my listeners are alright. others are erev rav.
    no different than a drasha of another holy rabbi (or was it the same rabbi) who presented the kashya, why so many myriads of ashkenozim were exterminated in the holocaust rochmono litzlon, while sfardis were spared? he had a “clever” reply: it was because sfardis don’t talk during davening.
    gave me a break will you. how do these holy men figure those things out?
    especially as we all know to whom nevoo was left after chorban.

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