Elie’s arrival at Auschwitz led him to the realization that the holocaust was unfolding before his eyes. He wondered how such heinous crimes were being committed as the world watched. He saw the burning of babies at the crematoria and witnessed the loss of hope among his people. The men were reciting Kaddish for themselves and this angered him because he believed God had turned away from them. These early events forced Elie to question his faith in both God and humanity because the assistance he expected never arrived.
"Yisgadal, veyiskadash, shmey raba…May His name be celebrated and sanctified…" whispered my father. For the first time, I felt anger rising within me. Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank Him for?
Elie’s first night in the barracks confirmed his loss of faith. He had just been separated from his mother and sister, who were likely burned at the crematoria. Father and son only survived because an older inmate asked them to lie about their age.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
In Chapter Five, most of the inmates were fighting for survival. They faced starvation and the idea of fasting during Yom Kippur made no sense because they were starved most of the time while at the camp. It was because of this that Elie’s father asked him not to observe the fast because he wanted his son to survive. On the other hand, Elie had lost his faith in God and by not observing Yom Kippur, he was rebelling against God.
I did not fast. First of all, to please my father who had forbidden me to do so. And then, there was no longer any reason for me to fast. I no longer accepted God's silence. As I swallowed my ration of soup, I turned that act into a symbol of rebellion, of protest against Him.
And I nibbled on my crust of bread.
Deep inside me, I felt a great void opening.