What was Elie's act of rebellion on the Day of Atonement?

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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While Elie was in prison camp, the Day of Atonement arrived. It is the most sacred day of the Jewish calendar. On this day, it was customary that Jews would fast. So, the question was whether the Jews would fast at the prison camp. Some did and some did not. 

Elie chose not to fast for three reasons. First, in prison camp, they were always fasting. There was never enough food. So, why fast now? Second, Elie's father forbid him to fast. Not to eat would hasten death. Third, Elie did it as an act of defiance against God. Elie wondered where God was while his people suffered in the concentration camps. Here is the text:

YOM KIPPUR. The Day of Atonement. Should we fast? The ques- tion was hotly debated. To fast could mean a more certain, more rapid death. In this place, we were always fasting. It was Yom Kip- pur year-round. But there were those who said we should fast, precisely because it was dangerous to do so. We needed to show God that even here, locked in hell, we were capable of singing His praises.

I did not fast. As I swallowed my ration of soup, I turned that act into a symbol of rebellion, of protest against Him.

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