Updated: Jul 13, 2022
Where was G-d during the Holocaust? Some Kabbalistic Insights.
One of the hardest questions concerning the holocaust, is where was G-d during the holocaust, and the more we hear about the horrors that our nation has been through during the holocaust, and more is discovered, the harder the question gets, and the more we are petrified, the more emotional and tearful we get, when we hear what our nation has been through during the holocaust, the less we can realize where Go-d was.
Besides for the shiurim where we came and explained and said that the holocaust is written in the Torah, we have published a booklet, "the Holocaust”, where we gathered the verses that discuss the holocaust and brought the commentary, in addition to a testimony from a holocaust survivor, which was precise and exact according to what is written in the verses.
Today, I would like to talk about the kabbalistic side of the holocaust which concerns deep kabbalistic subjects. We will of course not get into it very deeply, but we will mention the hidden and dark forces versus the forces of holiness and with G-d 's help, I hope I will be able to convey it properly.
The Yetzer Hara: Understanding Idolatry from Within
We have the commandment in the Torah, or more correct to say, the warning in the book of psalms "No strange god shall be within you, neither shall you prostrate yourself to a foreign god" (psalms 81:10) which is similar to the commandment: "I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 20:2).
"No strange god shall be within you"- this commandment- not to worship idols was already mentioned in the 10 commandments, but king David mentioned it again in psalms: " No strange god shall be within you". Which strange god does he refer to? If he referred to a statue, it is usually standing somewhere outside, so what does: "within you" mean? It means within oneself, in your soul, and your inner self. Why does it emphasize within you, and didn’t say only: there shall be no strange god? And the 2nd question is: we have already been commanded about it earlier by G-d himself, the first and the 2nd commandment were commanded by G-d himself, so why should king david repeat it if we already know this commandment? Is there any new addition to it?
Well, my friends, the Gemara in tractate shabbat page 105b discusses it, and if we understand this, we will understand the depth behind the scenes of our nation's troubles during the holocaust and all these horrors. The Gemara says: Rabbi Yavin said (Rabbi Yavin was one of the Amorah's and he told us a secret 1500 years ago), what is the explanation of the verse: No strange god shall be within you neither shall you prostrate yourself to a foreign god"... who is the strange god within the body of a person? This is the yetzer hara, the evil inclination.
What is a god? A symbol of power, almighty, this is one of Hashem's names, he is actually the G-d of all gods, and we also say: who is like You in all gods? There’s nobody like You, but we see here that the yetzer hara is named a strange god "You shall not have the gods of others in My presence". It means that it refers to some force, and here the force is attributed to the yetzer hara, Satan.
The kabbalists teach us in one of the books, ‘Emek haMelech’, the student of Ariza"l, about 500 years ago wrote something terrifying: Satan has powers to be like a king. He has his own chair and his own servants. When a person commits a sin, it is received as an offering to Satan and when a person fulfills a mitzvah, it comes as an offering to God. A holy soul goes as an offering to God and an impure soul goes as an offering to Satan. So much so, our rabbis wrote in the holy Zohar and the kabbalah books. It means that everything you do affects your soul and there’s a chance it will be offered to Satan and not to God, and the sin itself is the offering.
Of course there are different types of sins, if one did it intentionally or not, there are sins connected to wasting seed, we brought what rabbi Yehuda Ptaya, one of the greatest kabbalists about 150 years ago said, who lived on the same generation with the holy Ben Ish Chay. Rabbi Yosef Chaim in Babylon who said that a man who wastes seed intentionally (doesn’t refer to when it happens during sleep etc.) empowers Satan. The spiritual power that was in the seed, and could bring a baby into this world, is absorbed into Satan or Satan’s wife, and it causes trouble, grief, sicknesses, and horrors in this world.
What is Satan’s purpose? It’s not only to deceit the person to sin and that’s it, the Gemara in tractate Bava Batra page 16a says: he is the evil inclination, he is Satan and he is the angel of death. At the beginning his purpose is to deceit you to sin, then he goes to god and tell tales, and in the end he wants to take your soul, why does he want to take your life? Satan has impure forces, and the impure forces don’t have any existence by themselves, it is called in the Gemara: the lie doesn’t stand by itself, it can’t exist, that’s why Satan must have powers from others, other spiritual forces, and how can he get it? By taking the souls, by getting the powers from the wasted seed, but especially when he takes one's soul. He gets his life by taking the life of others.
Intermarriage Prior to the Holocaust: Strengthening the Satan
When the nation of Israel fulfills God’s commandments, the holy powers enhance and G-d himself nourishes the impure powers, as it is written: "and you nourish everybody" and He does it as they still have a role in this world until God brings Mashiach and will slaughter the evil inclination, like we sang in ‘Chad Gadia’, and you God slaughtered the angel of death etc., but until then G-d keeps him alive as he has a role to give trials to the person and if he can overcome it he gets a reward, and also to punish the wicked ones. But the force God gives him is limited, it is compared to a lion at the zoo who gets food from time to time to keep him alive but if the lion breaks free he eats and destroys everything harms and kill people. This is the difference between the powers that G-d gives to Satan to when the person empowers Satan by committing sins.
One of the sins that empowers Satan the most is intermarriage, when a Jewish person wastes seed with a non-Jew, its one of the most severe things as he weakens the holy powers and humiliates it and empowers Satan – he is the spiritual power of the non-jews. That’s why the Gemara says that the non-jew clings to the Jew like a dog, the impurity clings to him so strongly and Satan doesn’t leave him. The holy Zohar says that when a Jewish person sleeps with a non-Jew, it is as if he worshiped idols as he bowed down to Satan and worshiped him.
Unfortunately my beloved friends, before the holocaust, this is exactly what happened to our nation.
Professor Bernard Wasserstein, is a history professor of Chicago university who specializes in Jewish history. In his book On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War,
he analyzes the period of the time before the holocaust when there was a hard demographic crisis. There was a peak number of intermarriages, the number of people who spoke Jewish languages such as Yiddish in eastern Europe and ladino in the Balkan kept going down, the religion was going down and the rabbis back then grieved about it. Not even the antisemitism prevented intermarriage. What I am trying to say is that the European Jews were in danger even without Hitler's threat. This is what he said during his interview to Israel HaYom on 24th December 2018, 7 Tevet 5779.
Prophet Ezekiel in chapter 20 verses 32-33 said:
“But what enters your mind shall not come about, what you say, 'Let us be like the nations, like the families of the lands, to serve wood and stone.’
As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with poured out fury, will I reign over you.”
And the rabbis had warned about it, we spoke about it in the previous shiurim Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, Rabbi Yisrael of Salant and the ‘Ohr Sameach’, all the holy geniuses who lived before the holocaust such as the ‘Chafetz Chaim’ and the others who warned about the holocaust, even before it started.
But now there is something else. According to the foundation we mentioned at the beginning, G-d gave us the choice and the ability to manage the world according to our deeds, this is brought in Midrash Rabba, G-d created the first human and god told him: this is the creation I have created, all the trees in this garden, the whole creation, be smart and don’t ruin my world. Can a person ruin G-d's creation? The answer is yes, God gave the person the power to destroy or to build the world – this is the power of choice. Be smart and don’t ruin my world. And we saw what happened during the holocaust, Hitler with his terrible idea, ruined God's creation, Hitler was the wrong person in the wrong time, after the first world war, and suddenly, the first role he got, he was raised from the bottom, and became the Chancellor of Germany, there was no procedure, he wasn’t a mayor or an MK, before that, nothing, it was very quickly. Where did he get this power from? Satan. There are books and compositions about the subject, Rabbi ben-Porat had a shiur about it that Hitler sold his soul to Satan, he engaged in black magic and witchcraft in order to serve the impure powers, and he was chosen to use Satan’s great power, which was gained by the sins, to destroy the world, and Satan wants Jewish souls especially as there is holiness in them, but each killing and death and disaster are part of the power he gains from taking life of others.
This Holocaust Survior’s Story: Like a Prophetic Vision
One of the greatest holocaust's writers was Katzetnik, his real name was Yechiel Dinor or Yechiel Finer, he came from Lublin, and was in the group chosen by Rabbi Meir Shapira of Lublin to learn kabbalah every Friday night, he was a genius scholar, a torah learner, his books after the holocaust, ‘Salamander’ or ‘Dolls’ House’ or ‘My Name is Pilpel’, and later he used to write his contemplations about managing the state in revenge etc., and the rest of the books were the windows to the holocaust survivors, he testifies in Eichmann’s judgment and collapsed, and in his book he described that Auschwitz was a different planet. He survived the holocaust, but it left his soul broken.
One of his books which was written when he was already older was ‘Code EDM"A’, many people didn’t know what this word code is, it was the acronym of ‘Elaha DeRabbi Meir Aneni’, he wasn’t a religious person but the impressions from the Yeshiva in Lublin taught by Rabbi Meir Shapira of Lublin were engraved in him, and in his book ‘Code EDM”A’- he tells about these letters that he saw which saved him and enlightened him during the holocaust, and this is the reason he named the book so.
In this book he described the horrors of the holocaust while treated with drugs (LCD), which put him in trance in a way that took him back there. He went to Professor Bastian in the university of Leiden on 8 July 1976 and there he describes the horrors of the holocaust, he sees everything as if he is there and he sees the hidden depth of it. Page 57 of the book, the copy of the page is in front of me, I quote: “Auschwitz is on fire, the strong colors. I knew I was brought there to see this vision, Ashmedai (the king of demons), the king of Auschwitz is there, I see him in my eyes and he comes out of the ovens, coming out the chambers covered with smoke going to the skies, and there Hazai and Azael open an umbrella over his head, as a mushroom it stands in the skies where Hazai and Azael are about to nominate Ashmedai as a king of all world, they blow the shofars and call the name of the new king, he was born in the ovens of Auschwitz and was created from a new material, a concentration of the souls of 1.5 million children, I see the new king…” all these things are the impure powers if you understand, “…he sits on his chair, under the mushrooms in the sky and it comes to the skies of Auschwitz, his birth place, until it covers the sun and the skies. Shivering and fright from the darkness, and a voice is called: ‘Here, human, eat this scroll’, and I cry to G-d why, I turn my head and I see in the horizon the explicit name of God, Yu”d, He"y, Va"v, He"y, … what did we say? When the impure powers are strong, they control the holy powers, and the letters change and sometimes it is set in fire and sometimes it becomes a heap of snakes. God, with your war with Satan, don’t hide your face from me, “My God, My God, don’t leave me!”.
Follow the Torah and do Mitzvahs to Prevent Punishment
The somewhat prophetic vision that came from Yechiel Dinor's brain, together with the kabbalah, originates in the kabbalah books, the war wasn’t about the Nazis who didn’t understand what they did, they of course are not exempt from punishment and G-d will take a revenge from them until the last drop of blood, but they were Satan’s messengers to punish the person for the sins. I know that many people would outrage and say “what”... and “why you are saying that”, but my beloved friends, throughout our history we received a promise that if we don’t follow Torah and Mitzvoth, unfortunately we will be punished.
When we relate to the holocaust emotionally we will not understand why a person who broke Shabbat or married a non-Jew should be killed, or why kids should suffer. But when we look at it in a different and deeper way, of “knowledge and wisdom surround His glory”, we understand that it was part of rectifying the world. Like the flood, or the generation of Palaga, or Sodom – when God needed to reset the world. I am not coming to answer the emotional part of it, just to those who humbly ask and try to understand.
Watch the full lecture (with English subtitles):