Walking Down the Holocaust Path

I just returned from my trip to Poland, Germany and Holland, arriving there on the day when Poland was commemorating the Warsaw uprising against Nazi in World War II. I grew up in Germany and going to memorial places of the Holocaust was not the first time for me. However, returning to those places as an adult gave this trip a spiritually deeper insight.

The first morning I was in Warsaw, I woke up at dawn and did the Sacharit myself. Thank G-d for Rabbi Eliezer Cortez whom I met in Hong Kong the month before. He equipped me with a small travel Siddur which I never had. You see, in Indonesia, it is hard to find these little things that most Jews in the world have easy access to. So when people give me these things, it gives me great joy! But that morning, I felt I wanted to do the Sacharit differently. For some reason I was led to sing the mourners Kaddish in combination of the Shema. Yes, sing it. With a melody according to a song by a famous Israeli singer, Ezer Yechiel. (I have attached the Youtube video for this song below.)

When I sang it, I started weeping quietly in great grief. I recognized that the grief I felt was not really my own. Somehow I felt that it was Elohim’s. To my surprise I revealed that Elohim was still grieving and crying until today for the 6 million Jews that died in WW2. After almost 70 years since the war was over, the Holocaust was as real to Him as if it was still going on in the present.

To the world the 6 million Jews that died has become a horrible tragedy in the past. When I came to Treblinka to visit the site where the death camp had been, all I saw was memorial stones of the dead in the midst of a vast green pasture. It was quiet and peaceful. There was almost no trace of the horror that occurred decades ago. But in the eyes of Elohim, the horror is still visible there.

Everyone on earth, Jew or not, has their own baggage, suffering from all kinds of pain from the past or even the present. To some, this baggage has turned into an emotional scar that takes a long time to heal. If Elohim was human,  His emotional scar in our generation would be the Holocaust. Zechariah hanavi wrote, “Surely, the one that touches [Israel] touches the apple of His eye.” The Holocaust did not only touch His eyes. It stabbed them. This could not have been only painful but also traumatic! If Elohim really was human, this would be His emotional scar.

We tend to be angry for what has happened to our people in WW2. Even for the last 10 days of my trip on the Holocaust path, I angrily questioned, why He had allowed all this to happen. Many times we often turn our backs against Him because of this and blame Him for all the loss. But has it ever occurred to any of us that maybe… maybe Elohim has been grieving even deeper than we have? He knew all of the 6 million people that died. They were not just a number to Him. He knew each and every one of them personally. It must be hurting Him far more than it hurts us.

We chant the Kaddish when our loved ones die. But when you look at the prayer, the words are all about praising and worshiping Elohim. Would you not think that the most appropriate thing to do in such circumstances would be to lament over the dead?

Nevertheless, I do agree with all my heart that the Kaddish is a good prayer to chant while mourning. Those who are left behind by our loved ones are not the only ones who grieve. Especially when they left in such horrible conditions as in the Holocaust. Elohim grieves too. And singing the Kadish to Him while we too are hurt is a selfless act of love towards Him because we want to comfort Him despite our limitations.

Of course He may not need the comfort. After all, He is G-d! But doing so will not only heal ourselves from the pain, it will also lead our hearts to not turn our backs against Him nor blame Him, because… really… He did not kill the 6 million of our people. Hitler did. And more than we can understand, He grieves more than us, because He loved them all so much more than we could have ever loved them. If we can heartily do that and comfort His grieving heart, we will come in peace with the past. Only then can we bond again with our great big wonderful G-d.

I returned home with the faces of the victims carved deep in my heart and with His grief echoing over and over again in my soul. I will never be the same again and I refuse to be the same.  But in all this, I want to reach out to Elohim and be His friend, so if history should ever repeat (Elohim forbid!), I would remember His and my grief, and work for Him and with Him to either prevent it or give it a different, much better, ending.