Elie Wiesel — The World Is Now Poorer

An old man has died, an old Jew, one of millions trapped in Hitler’s evil vice. And one of the few to survive and tell us about it.

Elie Weisel has died at age 87. His was one of the great voices for humanity, for humanness, for peace in the 20th century. He was highly intelligent, gently firm, quietly warm. He spoke with a clear voice about the horrors of the Nazi regime but he did so without any ranting and raving. He simply told stories, including his own.

If you’ve not read his little book called Night, you must correct that problem as soon as possible. It is his story from Hitler’s era. Abduction, transportation, incarceration. He tells the story with simplicity, without histrionics. It is a story of unspeakable horrors, yet told without rancor. It is, therefore, a remarkable take which is essential reading for us all.

After the war, Weisel was a wonderful advocate for peace, justice, and religious toleration. He spoke for Jews, of course, but any who heard him or read his writings felt that he was speaking for them, too. He transcended all the boundaries by which we artificially divide ourselves into this camp and that.

Something deep and beautiful in Weisel outlasted the evils of the Nazis but his trust in God was severely damaged. He sometimes described himself as agnostic. That was true for many who were brutalized by the demonic hatred embodied in Hitler. The pain was so great that they simply could not comprehend how a just and compassionate God could allow it. No one who was not there in the camps, smelling the stench of burning humans, awaiting their turn, has the right to argue or criticize them for their own particular form of agnosticism.

We can say, “Thank you, Lord, for letting Elie survive” but we cannot and must not ever say, “And you, too, Elie, must thank God.”

We stand in silence with Elie Weisel and his fellow Jews, wounded by human cruelty, sometimes bewildered by God’s delay of justice, but never wanting to force ourselves and our theologies onto anyone else.

Justice will win in the end. Of that I have no doubt. But in the meantime, only the naive believe justice always wins on this side of the grave. We humans fight too hard and too long against justice. If only we would fight so hard for peace. . .


About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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2 Responses to Elie Wiesel — The World Is Now Poorer

  1. Old Yeller says:

    Did I find the Right Place? Are YOU mikenowandthen, AND mthayes42?
    Hmmm…retired Pastor…Well I certainly can’t compete with that.
    I can tell you that My Maternal Grandmother was very involved in Her Church, Her “Favorite Saint” was Luke, and She taught Me “The Golden Rule”, which was, if I am correct, from the Book of Matthew.
    And, My Two Sons are Named Matthew and Luke.
    Have a Good Day,
    Old Yeller aka Heidi

    • mthayes42 says:

      Good to hear from you, Heidi! I hope we can continue the conversation we started on YouTube or pursue others on any topic you like. If you’ve looked at my primary blog, you’ve seen that for some time now I’ve been ranting and raving about trump. with people like Cruz, I’m most aware simply of disagreeing with some things, but with trump it is different. I believe he looks very, very much like Hitler did to the Germans in 1933. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whom I’ve studied with some care, was one of the few people to recognize Hitler’s evil before he came to power. Most people in Germany realized it too late to be able to resist. I am horrified that that we seem to have learned nothing from the German experience and therefore have millions of Americans approving of trump. The Golden Rule, which was also taught by Confucius (so I’ve been told) is great because it is so simple. If we just treated people the way we want to be treated, most of the world’s great tensions would be eased. By the way, is it too late for you to have two more sons so that you can name them Mark and John? then you’d have all four Gospels covered.

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