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As a teenager, Elie was a "deeply observant" Jew who wanted to go deeper into Jewish mystic traditions than did his parents and most of the other Jews in Elie's home village of Sighet. Moishe the Beadle, however, recognized the yearning of Elie's heart and agreed to help him delve into the Kabbalah tradition. Moishe explained that only Elie could find the answers he sought, because the answers to his questions resided within his own soul.
Man comes closer to God through the question he asks him...But we don't understand His replies. We cannot understand them. Because they dwell in the depths of our souls and remain there until we die. The real answers, Eliezer, you will find only within yourself.
Elie came to believe that Moishe would be able to help him understand, to find "that time when question and answer would become ONE."
With the first expulsion of foreign Jews from Sighet, however, Moishe was gone. When he escaped from the concentration camp and returned to Sighet, he tried to warn the others about the horrors he had witnessed, but no one believed him. Elie and his family, along with most of the Jews of Sighet, must endure the questions without answers raised by the Holocaust.
Moshe is a typical figure in the Jewish community. In Shakespeare's plays, he would have played the part of the fool. In the tragic history of this Jewish community, he may have been the agent of providence as he had escaped "miraculously" from the Nazis and his sole purpose in going back to his village was to save his people. But his people merely laughed at him. He is the first of a series of characters met by the author in this autobiographical novel that provide the reader with arresting images of cruelty and infinite pity. I can remember another, the beautiful boy with an angel's face that was hanged by the nazis. I think he is very much reminiscent of The story written by Melville: Billy Budd in very different circumstances, of course. But it's also a story about injustice and oppression. E. Wiesel's story is one of haunting fears and "horrid deeds" (Macbeth), one you can't ever forget.
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