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Why was Moeshe important to Elie?

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nikki-garcia | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 11, 2010 at 10:09 AM via web

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Why was Moeshe important to Elie?

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted January 11, 2010 at 12:05 PM (Answer #1)

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Moshe the Beadle in the book "Night" was important to Eli because he represented his town and a way of life.  Moshe was loved by all.  He was a gentle Jewish man who always made people feel good around him.  He was poor and humble. He sang and chanted but did not speak much.  Moshe represents Elie's devout faith in the Talmud and Hebrew doctrine.  He would study during the day and cry over the destruction of the Jewish temple at night.

On day Moesha is expelled from the land because he was a foreigner.  Moesha had been put on a cattle car and shipped out by the Nazis.  He came back though.  He had some terrible things to tell the people.  He told them about the Jews who had been taken to the forest, forced to build their own graves, and then executed.  He even told about the babies being thrown into the air and shot at.

Moshe escaped because he was only wounded.  He spent his time since escape going from Jewish house to house telling them what had happened.  He lost his songs in his heart and felt no more joy.  The people made a choice to stop listening to his stories.  They did not believe them.  They thought that he wanted pity.

Even Elie and his family did not believe what Moshe had to tell them.  Elie chose to use Moshe to demonstrate how truly blind they all were about the offences of the Germans.  By the time they all started believing what Moshe had to say, it was too late.  Later, Elie would lose his own light and spirit with God just as Moshe had lost his.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 11, 2010 at 7:16 PM (Answer #2)

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One critical way in which Moshe is important to both Eliezer and the people of Sighet is because of his symbolic meaning.  He is both a man of religious faith as well as one of the first people to witness with his own eyes what is happening to the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis.  When he comes back to tell others of what he has seen and what should be done, he is dismissed and discarded.  In this light, Moshe becomes a symbol of the themes that Wiesel seeks to develop both in his book and in his life.  The action of silencing others, no matter who does it, is sinful behavior.  The notion of invalidating experiences and dismissing individuals as "different" or "not meaningful" is a behavior that the Nazis did to so many, and, in the process, was a pattern of disrespect that some of these targeted groups did to one another.  Inhumanity is the same regardless of who commits it and must be stopped at all costs.  One of the curses of the Holocaust for Wiesel is that it helped to teach the behavior of the aggressors to the victims.  The experience with Moshe helps to outline this point.

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