What kind of assembly did the prisoners attend on the eve of Rosh Hashanah?
In Night, by Elie Wiesel, the prisoners gathered in assembly to worship God on the Eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. About 10,000 men attended, and they prayed and bowed before God. Elie, however, felt angry.
"What are You, my God," I thought angrily, "compared to this afflicted crowd, proclaiming to You their faith, their anger, their revolt? What does Your greatness mean, Lord of the universe, in the face of all this weakness, this decomposition, and this decay? Why do You still trouble their sick minds, their crippled bodies?" (Wiesel 63)
As the other men blessed the Eternal over and over, Elie became angrier. He, who had once believed so fervently in God, had lost all belief. He no longer felt the desire to pray. Where once prayer made him feel strong, during the assembly he realized he was stronger without it. Wiesel wrote, "I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone--terribly alone in a world without God and without man." (Wiesel 65)
For Rosh Hashanah all the Jews gather together at the assembly place and are a little nervous, wondering whether the last day of the year might really be their last. Eliezer angrily compares God's greatness with the weakness of the assembled Jews. Thousands of men prostrate themselves to God, but Eliezer refuses to bless a God who has allowed crematories to exist. Though he used to be a mystic and used to love New Year's Day, this year he accuses God of injustice and feels strong, yet alone, without God or man. Eliezer runs to find his father when people start wishing each other a happy new year, but neither he nor his father say anything when they see each other. They both understand that the other is reluctant to observe the Jewish holiday. Eliezer and his father refuse to fast for Yom Kippur, and Eliezer feels a pleasant revolt against God. Nevertheless, he still feels a void in his soul.