Why did Eliezer pray and cry when he did so?

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of Night, author Elie Wiesel is passionate about his Judaism. He is fascinated with Cabala (Jewish mysticism) and has a strong desire to learn everything he can about it by finding a teacher. In Judaism, normally a man does not even begin the study of Cabala until he is at least forty years old because it takes a certain amount of wisdom just to attempt to decipher it. Orthodox Jewish boys spend much of their time praying and studying, and Elie is no exception. When he finally finds a Cabala teacher in Moshe the Beadle, Moshe asks Elie why he cries when he prays. Elie responds, "I don't know why." He continues:

"The question had never entered my head. I wept because--because of something inside me that felt the need for tears. That was all I knew.

'Why do you pray?' he asked me, after a moment. Why do I pray? A strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe?

'I don't know why,' I said, even more disturbed and ill at ease" (Wiesel 2).

Weeping and praying are like breathing to Elie. They are an inherent part of him--like the blood running through his veins and his heart beating. Elie's belief in God is that strong, which is one of the reasons his story is so tragic. The Nazis take everything away from Elie Wiesel. They take his possessions, his parents, his little sister, and perhaps worse of all, they take his faith that had meant so much to him. 

mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the entire story, Elie struggles with his faith. Before he was sent to Auschwitz, Elie had a strong faith in God, however once inside the camp, he begins to question things. During his time there, Elie loses his faith and finds his faith. He constantly wants to know how God could allow this to happen. He is in constant prayer, although his prayers are sometimes conversations with God. All Elie wants is to know why He allowed this to happen.

When Elie is liberated from the camp, he longs to learn everything he can about his faith. He goes back to the Kabbalah. He is often seen praying and crying at the same time. His tears are his silent prayers, prayers of the secrets he keeps deep within him. He cries over all that was lost and all that was found. His loss of innocence and family is something to be cried over. He will never be the same man again. He has lost so much and seen so much, that it comes out in tears. 

The response of praying and crying is a beautiful sight. Elie is thanking God for his life, and crying over all the lives that were lost. Elie carries with him all the deaths and horrors that he witnessed, and reminds all of us to never forget.

clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elie prays constantly throughout the book, even when he is questioning his own faith, he talks to God and desires to know the why behind what is happening to him. At the beginning of the book, Elie is thirsty for his religion. He yearns to know everything there is about it and even finds a kabbalistic master in Moishe the Beadle who tries to teach him about Jewish mysticism when he father told him he was too young and that there were no official masters in Sighet. Moishe sees Elie praying and Moishe asks him why he cries when he prays, but even Elie doesn't understand. He tells him he doesn't know why he cries. Elie is deeply spiritual which is probably what helped him get through his time in the camps when others could not. He had an understanding and connection with life that far surpassed his age.

coloradorockz | Student

Eliezer prayed simply because he was religious and hungry to know more about his culture. he cried because he felt the need for tears. he tried to answer HIS questions but failed