What is behind the question of G-d's presence in the Holocaust?

Rabbi Lundin: Question of where G-d was during Holocaust serves as excuse for pessimistic worldview. 'There is G-d, this is our comfort.'

Shimon Cohen ,

March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland
March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland
Flash 90

Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day is approaching, and, as such, the question of the presence of the Creator, who chose the people of Israel as a special people, during the Holocaust is raised again. Arutz Sheva discussed the question and the very raising of the question with Rabbi Haggai Lundin of the “Kehalim” organization.

"It’s a question that has been asked reflexively for 70 years,” Rabbi Lundin says, noting that “In Judaism, we do not mark Holocaust Day in the month of Nissan, which is the month of redemption, but in the tenth of Tevet, and yet the question of faith is constantly raised around the official Holocaust Remembrance Day." Rabbi Lundin sees the question as one that is “more an excuse than a challenge," and he explains:

"There is a mental attitude here of those who do not believe in G-d in advance and the Holocaust is a catalyst for these feelings. There are many things that we do not understand in G-d's management of the world. We do not understand why a baby dies the day after its birth and there are many disasters that we do not understand, but it is the Holocaust that raises the issue of injustice and lack of morality in the world."

Rabbi Lundin points to the difficulty for many people to discuss the issue with logical reasoning because of their emotions, but in the face of this approach says "It is important to say things without fear. After 70 years, believing people need to stand tall and push off the emotional fury.” He immediately brings up that his own grandfather and grandmother were also in the Holocaust, yet he states: "You have to say clearly, there is a G-d. Despite all the problems and the chaos, there is a direction in which the world is progressing toward its redemption, and morality and justice are appearing. We see this because despite all the events of the Holocaust, the Jewish people is flourishing. Today we see the world growing out of the pain. The tragedy that the people of Israel have passed is a reality that we do not have an explanation for, as is for many other realities, but from a general perspective we see the good triumphing, how salvation is unfolding, we live in a flourishing country and our situation has never been better, for the Jewish people and the entire world.”

"We are in a time when everything is flourishing, economically, security-wise and especially spiritually. The world of European Torah, which had almost disappeared in the Holocaust, is growing in the land of our forefathers, the batei midrash are full, the communities are flourishing, the families of the Jewish people are growing. There is faith and there is G-d, and this is our comfort,” says the rabbi, who views the debate surrounding the place of the Creator in the Holocaust as a discussion between a pessimistic approach that seeks justification for pessimism regarding the future of the world and its progression, and an optimistic approach that sees justice and morality strengthened and present throughout the world, and among the Jewish people in particular.

"The Holocaust serves as a justification for pessimism and despair in the world. The events of the Holocaust seem to have shattered the hope of the Western world that there would be enlightenment and education that would bring a moral and human world. This hope was shattered in the Holocaust, and now this despair finds expression in memory of the Holocaust. I notice that there are people who are hurting who take the Holocaust as justification for secularism and pessimism. When they meet optimism and someone who believes in the progress of reality, it annoys them.”