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Why did G-d not stop the holocaust? Is there anything written to explain why He would not have stopped it? or why He would have allowed it?

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the question is why bad things happen? is there any way to stop it? – Avraham Jul 13 '11 at 13:29
Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/28222 – msh210 Apr 26 '13 at 15:41
or maybe He brought it Himself judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/56098/… – ray Mar 6 '15 at 7:37
Avot 4:15: רבי ינאי אומר, אין בידינו לא משלות הרשעים ואף לא מיסורי הצדיקים. (Rabbi Yannai said: We can understand neither the tranquility of the evil nor the travails of the righteous). – ephraim helfgot May 6 at 19:57

This is a very broad and deep topic; the whole book of Job struggles with bad things happening to good people. After a lot of talk (and Job's friends trying to be helpful by saying "oh Job, obviously it's punishment for some sin you did, silly boy", and both Job and G-d telling them to go jump in a lake), the conclusion appears to be that it's beyond human understanding. But faced with the brilliance of G-d, the questions disappear.

Rabbi Joseph Soloveichik referred to questions about the Holocaust as "an exercise in futility." His colleague Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shneurson (the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe) said that anyone believing in a merciful and omnipotent G-d is obligated to be challenged by what happened, yet we have no good answers.

The simplest answer here is that G-d gave humans free will; if people can choose to do good or evil, that means they are able to do good or evil. Humans chose to do a great deal of evil 1939--1945. Still we're left with asking when G-d interferes with human plans and when not, which is again beyond our comprehension. We do have the notion that once it was decided that an entire community will perish, that applies "wholesale"; even a few good people within it may not be saved, barring exceptional merit or Divine purpose. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein escaped Europe in 1937 and became the rabbinic backbone of post-Holocaust American Orthodoxy; he viewed his escape from the Holocaust as a sign of his calling to serve the people. People would ask why he wasted so much of his time answering all sorts of questions from all sorts of people; he replied "the rabbis who took themselves seriously aren't around anymore." But that explains one person, not the group effect.

To claim it's a punishment for sin is quite complicated, put mildly, and immediately leads to finger-pointing. Some have claimed it was the sin of Zionism; others, the sin of opposing Zionism. As Job told his "friends", let's not go there.

I've heard survivors say they have no questions, it was massive punishment just as the Bible says may happen. I've heard non-survivors say it can't be explained. We may not have better answers than that.

A helpful thought I heard on the subject from Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is from Maharal; that sometimes G-d lets great evil grow quite large, to show it can still be defeated.

With all that in mind, we move forward.

(Much of this is summarized from a talk on the subject from Rabbi Adlerstein I heard several years ago, as well as an mp3 from yutorah by Rabbi Shneur Leiman on theodicy.)

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+1 inspirational! – WAF Jul 15 '11 at 1:28
I think a similar situation is when children of Israel were slaves in Egypt before exodus and were living under very difficult conditions, e.g. at points all newborn boys were killed by being thrown to Nile to keep their numbers low. – Kaveh Aug 31 '11 at 6:13

The meshech chochmah, writing decades before the holocaust, describes the pattern of Jewish History. He explains how the Jews first arrive at a place and focus on Torah and mitzvos, but then later generations become comfortable, and begin slacking off in observance and forgetting they're in exile. Eventually this reaches the point that they are exiled again. He predicts that a similar pattern will happen in Germany, for "they say Berlin is Jerusalem", and abandoned the Mitzvos. The actual 'exile' that happened was far worse than the previous exiles in history, but there it had also been a much greater change in society. Though no one in this world can fully understand how God runs the world or why bad things happen to good people.

The meshech chochmah is available here: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/vl/mhochma/mhochma15.pdf (p. 244-245)

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You are asking why bad things happen to good people if God is omnipotent and could therefore stop it. But if He does, then what happens to free will? This is too big a topic for a Q&A site. The topic you're looking for is called "theodicy".

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He might be asking specifically about the holocaust. Many Chasidic rebbes have written about why they think the holocaust was decreed. But there is no one single answer, just many hypotheses. Similar to the question, why was the Beis Hamikdash destroyed. – avi Jul 13 '11 at 15:18





The simple reason is that we don't know why because we have limited human intellect (like the parable the Rebbe gives of a person who never heard of modern technology showing up in an operating room).

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It can be compared to why Hashem punished Pharaoh for enslaving the Jews if it was Hashem who made them slaves in Egypt in the first place? The answer is that even though Hashem decreed that the Jews would be slaves, Pharaoh of his own free will treated them excessively harsh and that was what he was punished for. So even though Hashem put the Jews at the German's mercy, it was the Germans who decided to use that control for horrors.

Why didn't Hashem stop it? He did, in 1945.

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There have been many tragedies which have befallen the Jewish people throughout history, and it is one of the weightiest theological questions. I won't address the holocaust directly, but just provide a short general response.

The Torah itself spells out with a large amount of detail the terrible things that will happen to the Jews if they do not keep the Torah. It also refers to the concept of 'hester panim', that if the Jews sin, God will 'hide' so-to-speak. This means that He will remove any form of protection from them, and not prevent terrible things from happening. In fact, even the righteous are not protected when this happens. Only when the people are at a high level do they merit Divine protection.

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I heared that G-d gave us the holocaust because we broke the "Contract" with him through the: 1)assimilation 2)Secularism 3)Masterbation

I heared these some time ago so I am not sure that Secularism is one of them but I am positive about the other two.

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if you downvote an answer, please explain why. – avi Sep 11 '11 at 20:15
eitan706, welcome to judaism.satckexchange.com! I hope you stick around and enjoy the site; I also recommend you register so the site can keep track of your contributions better and so you have a better site experience. Thanks for this answer, which would be a lot more informative if you were to indicate whom you heard this from. – msh210 Sep 11 '11 at 20:32

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