Before the Holocaust occurred, Wiesel understood that God was the protector of Jews. He believed that the events preceding the holocaust were aimed at bringing good things to the Jews. The events were also a sign of a good plan that God had for the Jews. Wiesel was ready to accept the will of God without complaining or asking questions regardless of what happened.
When the holocaust ended he did not speak much about God and whenever he did, it was clear that his understanding of God had changed (Berenbaum 45). When unconfirmed reports about the crimes that were taking place in Nazis were received, Wiesel and the entire population of Rabbis believed that nothing was going to happen to them since God was with them.
Their faith convinced them that their safety was guaranteed. However, after a short period of time Wiesel discovered that he was wrong. Cases of abuse against the Jews continued increasing causing him to wonder if God was still with them. But this did not change the faith he had in God and he continued believing that God was going to safe them (Henry 3).
One reason that made Wiesel continue trusting in God even when the Jews were suffering was that it was hard for him to doubt God. However, after the suffering of his people continued, his faith in God started to decline. He could not see the reason for thanking a God who had remained silent as they suffered.
He felt that God had left him and the Jews because of their continued suffering. His declining faith in God slowly started turning into despair because if God could not help them, there was nobody they could rely on. The Jews who followed Wiesel tried hard to continue believing in God but the number of those who remained faithful started to reduce. Pinhas, who was a mentor to Wiesel believed that God had a great plan for the Jews.
He later told Wiesel that he had accepted what God always did because he knew God could not be wrong. But he had come to a realization that what God was doing was serious and convinced Wiesel to believe it. Wiesel continued moving away from the God he had trusted since childhood because he looked at him as an enemy. Pinhas died with unanswered questions on the cause of the suffering while Wiesel continued carrying the questions with him.
Wiesel became angry with God for allowing his people to suffer. He said, “For the first time, I felt revolt rise up in me. Why should I bless His name? The Eternal, Lord of the Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank Him for”(Wiesel 31).
He thought that God wanted to fulfill his cruel intentions. Initially, Wiesel devoted himself to worshipping God but started accusing God and seeking for an explanation as to why all this was happening. He believed that the Jews were faithful to God but his understanding was changed by the suffering.
God was playing a cruel role in their lives and Wiesel no longer had faith in him. He started questioning if man was indeed a close friend of God or simply a toy. He felt as if the Jews were under the care of a cruel stranger as opposed to the caring God who was supposed to protect them against suffering. Wiesel discovered that there was no need to try to identify the causes of the holocaust because it seemed that God was mad. The suffering of so many people was enough justification that God had gone mad.
The results of the holocaust left Wiesel with many unanswered questions. It was clear that the suffering had changed his understanding of God. Some of the questions he asked were where God could be found. He wondered if God was found in their suffering or in choosing not to obey him. Another question that remained unanswered was the time man was to be justified as a true man.
Wiesel looked for answers for a long period of time but concluded that there were no answers to his questions and that his continued questioning could not give any answers. He realized that the attempts to justify why God allowed his people to suffer could not offer adequate solutions. Man could not provide answers to the questions but only God himself was able to provide the answers.
The final understanding of God Wiesel held was that when people prayed they were not supposed to expect God to answer their prayers. He understood that his relationship with God depended on whether god answered his prayers or not. He finally says, “I did not deny God’s existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.”(Wiesel 42).
Berenbaum,Michael. Elie Wiesel: God, the Holocaust, and the Children of Israel. New Jersey: Behrman House, Inc, 1979.
Henry, Gary. Story and Silence: Transcendence in the Work of Elie Wiesel. 2002. Web. 21 Sep 2011.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1999.