Why does Moshe return to Sighet and how do the people treat him when he returns in Night by Elie Wiesel?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Moshe the Beadle was Elie's teacher of the Kabbalah. He was a sensitive and kind man. When the Hungarian authorities began to expel all foreign Jews from Sighet, Moshe was one of them. He leaves and Elie thinks he will never see him again. However, Moshe soon returns with horrific stories to tell.

At first, the town is outraged that all the foreign Jews are being forced to leave, but they soon forget about what has happened, thinking that it really doesn't affect them. When Moshe returns, the people of the town are less than willing to entertain his stories. Moshe begins to tell the people that the deportation trains were handed over to the Gestapo at the Polish border. The trains themselves were so overcrowded and there was not enough food to eat. They had to dig mass graves for themselves and the Gestapo would kill them. All of the people of Sighet think that Moshe is crazy. They will not listen to what he has to say.

"Moshe the Beadle...madness in his eyes. He talked on and on about the brutality of the killers. "Listen to me!" he would shout. "I'm telling the truth. On my life, I swear it!" But the people were deaf to his pleas. I liked him and could not bring myself to believe him."

What is interesting about Moshe is that he stands for the faith that Elie had. Moshe was Elie's teacher and taught him that questions were more important than their answers. When Elie starts losing his faith in God, we see Elie having more answers than questions. When Moshe returns to Sighet to warn everyone, we see the people ignoring his warnings and not taking him seriously. If only people had taken him seriously enough, maybe things would have turned out differently, but then again, we will never know. As Elie has taught us, we will never forget.

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Moishe the Beadle, a foreign Jew, was expelled among other foreign Jews from Sighet. Their expulsion was a conspiracy between the German Nazis and the Hungarian police. At the time, atrocities against the Jews and other special groups were rampant outside Sighet. However, the Jews in Sighet remained indifferent and optimistic that those issues would not reach them. On the day of the expulsion, all the Jews were sad, but those left behind soon forgot about the deportees.

After the train with the deportees crossed the Hungarian border, they were handed over to the Gestapo and murdered. Moishe narrowly escaped the slaughter and made his way back to Sighet. He made every effort to inform and warn the other Jews about the impending danger. However, the Jews in Sighet refused to believe him. They suggested that he had gone mad while others implied that he was only after their pity. The Jews in Sighet refused to take heed of Moishe’s warning until it was too late. The Gestapo arrived in Sighet and deported all the remaining Jews to various German concentration camps. 

"You don't understand," he said in despair. "You cannot understand. I was saved miraculously. I succeeded in coming back. Where did I get my strength? I wanted to return to Sighet to describe to you my death so that you might ready yourselves while there is still time. Life? I no longer care to live. I am alone. But I wanted to come back to warn you. Only no one is listening to me …"

mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Moshe the Beadle returns from the deportation to warn the people of his village and tell them what is really happening.  His horror stories of deprivation, killing, taking away everything you own sound so awful and unbelievable that his truth is dismissed.  Many of the townspeople will not believe him because if he is to be believed, then all that has happened to him will soon happen to them.  Moshe keeps trying to tell them, but he is ignored.  When the Nazis arrive to round up the Jews to ship them away, Moshe tells the people that he has tried to warn them, but they would not listen to him and he slips away before he is caught again.

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