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When Elie and his family are loaded onto the trains for deportation, he is too overwhelmed with all that is happening so quickly to be able to think about God's presence or absence. Elie is a frightened but still devout Jew when he leaves Sighet.
As Elie and his father are waiting in line at Auschwitz for their initial processing by Dr. Mengele, his father begins quietly whispering Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer for the dead. Elie cannot agree with the words of the prayer, which begins with expressions of worship and devotion to God.
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?
By the time the night is over and morning arrives, Elie has completely changed, having lost his faith in the trauma of the events that he had just survived.
The student of the Talmud, the child I was, had been consumed by the flames. All that was left was a shape that resembled me. My soul had been invaded-and devoured-by a black flame.