What role did the Jews' faith play in their lack of response to their growing problem?

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In the book Night by Elie Wiesel, the Jewish population ignored the growing problem largely because of their faith. They believed that God would take care of them and so did not realize the reality of what was happening until they were already in Birkenau.

At the very beginning of the story, Moishe the Beadle is taken with a large group of citizens to be deported, and the remainder of the community believes that they have been relocated to work elsewhere. However, Moishe returns to tell the story of what truly happened to those who were taken. Once the group left Hungary, their train car was overtaken by the Gestapo. They exited the train car and were forced to dig trenches. "When they had finished their work, the men from the Gestapo began theirs. Without passion or haste, they shot their prisoners, who were forced to approach the trench one by one and offer their necks. Infants were tossed into the air and used as targets for the machine guns." No one in Sighet believes Moishe. To believe that this atrocity could happen to their friends, neighbors, and relatives would require the Jews to come to terms with the idea that their God was allowing this to happen. Moishe was formerly an incredibly religious man, but after escaping from the massacre, "he no longer mentioned God or Kabbalah".

The community of Sighet remains optimistic that these things that are happening because of the war will not possibly harm them. They believe Hitler will be stopped before they are reached by the army. Even when Germans enter their city and live in their homes, they are unconcerned: "The Germans were already in our town, the Fascists were already in power, the verdict was already out—and the Jews of Sighet were still smiling." Soon, however, Sighet is turned into two ghettos. The Jews are forced to follow strict rules and wear yellow stars identifying them. But still they do not believe they are in terrible danger. To believe in the danger is to doubt God's will. Even as the ghettos are liquidated and the Jews are forced to deport, "people must have thought there could be no greater torment in God's hell than that of being stranded here, on the sidewalk, among the bundles, in the middle of the street under a blazing sun." Their faith provided them with protection against the belief that they would be harmed.

Even as the Jews are starting to understand their fate, they are still praying to God to have mercy on them. They still believe that prayer and faith will save them. Once at Birkenau, the realization of the atrocities dawns on the Jews. For some, this is the breaking point of their faith. Wiesel writes, "Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes." His belief in God ended when faced with the reality of his situation.

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