Responding to Night – Elie Wiesel Essay
Elie Wiesel’s book tells the story of a Jewish family’s struggle in the through the time of concentration camps in Nazi Germany prior to World War II. Elie grew up in Sighet, Transylvania a prominently Jewish community that was eventually attacked by the purification movement and fell under the rule of the Nazi’s. After enough time elapsed the majority of Jewish neighborhoods where cleared out and many Jews were forced into the ghettos and concentration camps making the jam pack cattle carts and starving people for lengthy periods of time.Wiesel’s tragic story began here and we learn of the survival strategy and faith based struggle.
Elie continuously professes his faith, even in times of deep depression. Elie finally found a teacher in Moshe the Beadle, a highly respected man in Sighet. Moshe, a very humble man, was not rich by any means but was held with the utmost regard. Elie needed Moshe to teach him Kabala because his father would not spend the time to teach him. As Moshe taught Elie, he found himself continuing to become stronger in his faith and giving him reason to.Elie teaches us many things about the Jewish faith but most of all tells a great story of someone persevering through the ultimate struggle.
The hardest thing to grasp is how such a young man can conquer fear. When most were angered at God Elie does the exact opposite and fights to stay positive. There are many things that we learn about Judaism. Elie wrote this book after the fact so he can also explain to us the reason for the certain traditions he participates in. Early in his story do we learn of Passover and his family as a whole fasting and praying while they are still together in the ghetto.Passover is a time of celebration because it is believed to be the start of the harvest year but mostly recognizing the book of exodus when the Israelites are freed from slavery, and out of respect they spend the day fasting and praying.
We see the how most of the Jewish people turn to God in their darkest hour and rely on prayer to get them through the battle of life and death. Elie goes through a some what traumatic situation when he witnesses people saying the prayer of the dead for themselves.He had barely heard it said prior to this experience, especially not with people saying it for themselves. One major part we need to realize is that while many doubted that god even existed Elie never doubted him but showed disappointment in him for not being present at that particular time.
A common tradition for the Jews was to sing Hasidic songs at night while at the concentration camps asking for god to intervene and save them. The camps not only turned the Jews against the Nazi’s but even the Jews against the Jews.The dog eat dog world became most noticeable when a boy decided to murder his father for a piece of bread, the bread was later taken by someone else in the camp. The story continues on showing more and more acts of merciless murder and how one must learn to cope with the worst of situations. Elie’s father grew very sick and was barley living.
Elie who had not been extremely close with his father starts a bond with him and strives to make sure he stays alive, giving him most of his food so his strength would be up to par.Some people would criticize him because he was not worried about his own well being and spent to much time looking out for his father. Whenever he doubted his cause he remembered the Polish boy. The Nazi’s would make the Jews jog for lengthily period of time. Elie had become good friends with this polish boy and was jogging with him and his father, as his father starts to fall back the boy does not concern himself with his fathers well being and runs ahead. The boy eventually gets so tired he trips and falls as the Nazi’s are watching causing him to lose his life.
Later on the boy’s father finishes the jog and is looking for his son when he finds out his son was murdered he does not take it well. From then on Elie vows never to leave his father’s side again. As we move forward in the novel we witness Rosh Hashanah which makes Elie turn over a new leaf making him question God’s power and thinking of himself as the one who controls his own destiny. In a way we see the human side of a young Jewish boy when Elie starts to be angered at his god for not saving his people.
Rosh Hashanah often refers to the forty days like Noah’s ark, Moses and the Ten Commandments, and the twelve men who went into Canaan to scout out the land for the Children of Israel were on their expedition for 40 days. Elie was mentally breaking down. When a gypsy attacks his father he showed no sense of urgency to try and help his father, instead he just stared blankly with little emotion. He Recalls the stories of how Adam and Eve where fooled by the devil, Noah had to save his people and animals by building the arc, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.After remembering these stories he shows malice for Gods lack of intervention and starts to lose faith. Elie’s father eventually dies.
In earlier years of Elie’s life he most likely would have prayed in morning but he seems to be dead inside and doesn’t respond. There is no tear shed either, there is not criticism of this either because like any mortal soul would do he questions his God even existing which alone tears him down. The hardest part of the text to realize is how a Fifteen year old boy can go through all of this.The suffering was considered one of the worst in the history of man.
Elie and his father have to enter Auschwitz, the most infamous concentration camp of them all, and witness the Nazi guards tossing Jewish babies into a pit of fire. This is the only time we see Elie’s willingness to rebel as he had showed a plan to break ranks and run into the electrical fence, most likely resulting in death. Elie Wiesel gives you the utmost respect of the Jewish faith showing how in times of need they pull together and help on another to survive the hardest test of them all.It is human nature for most to do anything to survive and we see instances of this many times throughout the story but ultimately the Jewish community is very benevolent to each other in times of need. We learn of great traditions such as Rush Hashanah and Passover, traditions that seem like they could be celebrated by Christians as well do to the heritage before the time of Jesus.
The Kabala which shows great strength when Elie finally studies them and finds himself deeper in faith. There was a force field between the normality’s of the world and a concentration camp making it extremely difficult for one to be strong in faith.There is no fault to be given to those who turned away from God in their given situation, but there are accolades to be given to those who professed in their most trying moment. This book not only shows the strength of on Jewish boy in the times of the Nazi reign but teaches us about the Jewish faith and how they as a unit survived the most terrifying times the had ever experienced. After reading this book there is no question in the level of respect you have for those who experienced these times of slavery.