What did Moshe mean when he says to Elie, "There are a thousand and one gates leading into the orchard of mystical truth"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the most significant elements that arises from Moshe's idea of the many paths to spiritual truth is that it openly encourages a notion of the good where freedom to explore is evident. The opening chapter of Wiesel's work is so powerful because it is so philosophically profound.  Moshe talks to Eliezer about how the answers are secondary to asking God "the right questions."  It is in this notion of plurality and divergence in which Moshe talks to Eliezer about the many paths that can lead to a realm in which one finds peace with the divine.  It is a nuanced, intricate, and complex approach to being in the world.  This is significant for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it provides a model to Eliezer as to how life should be.  The second reason is more ironic in that the vision of what Eliezer will experience with his time in the Holocaust is going to be the polar opposite of this in every way possible.  There will only prove to be one gate leading to any notion of truth, which will be more survival than anything else.  There is no orchard, no multiplicity of paths, and there will not even be a sense of spiritual identity.  There will only be animalistic survival where the presence of the divine is rejected.  I think that this becomes one of the most interesting points to emerge from Moshe's statement to Eliezer.  Just as he is run off, never to be heard from again, so is his idea of the many paths to spiritual truth.