Why are the warning of "horrible things to come" from Moshe the Beadle not taken seriously? Are there other warnings?
The Jews of Sighet choose to ignore all the warnings coming to them, and Moshe’s warnings are not treated any different. Moshe gets to witness firsthand the brutal nature of the German soldiers and the true state of the situation. The deported Jews are made to dig their own graves, and the soldiers proceed to shoot them indiscriminately. Moshe miraculously survives and decides to go back and warn the Jews of Sighet. However, when they receive the news, the Jews of Sighet conclude that Moshe has gone mad. They take comfort in the news that the Allies are making progress on the war front.
“He’s just trying to make us pity him. What an imagination he has!” they said. Or even: “Poor fellow. He’s gone mad.”
News from Budapest about the rise of the Nyilas party should have been a cause for worry among the Jews of Sighet, but these developments are also ignored. In addition, German troops are allowed to enter Hungary, and the Jews in Budapest are attacked. Although the situation in Budapest causes some anxiety in Sighet, the Jews believe the German soldiers will not reach Sighet for strategic reasons. German soldiers soon show up in Sighet, and at first, they pretend to be polite, but once they receive their orders, they turn against the Jews. At this point, it is too late for the Jews of Sighet to react or escape.
The Germans were already in the town, the Fascists were already in power, the verdict had already been pronounced, yet the Jews of Sighet continued to smile.
One of the reasons why Moshe's warnings are not taken seriously is because of the community's indifference to Moshe. He is not entirely respected by the community, despite his role as a spiritual adviser. This dismissing of what he sees and what he predicts will happen identifies a critical theme that Wiesel emphasizes throughout the work. The sin of indifference and silencing voices is morally reprehensible. He argues that this becomes the lasting sin of the Holocaust: The behaviors of the abusers become replicated in the actions of the abused, completing a dehumanizing cycle. The silencing of voices that the Nazis perpetrated was demonstrated in how the people of Sighet silenced and "banished" Moshe the Beadle. While Wiesel is understandably condemning of the Nazis, he also is very quick to point out that there were individuals of Jewish faith who committed similar abhorrent acts to one another. Similar behavior can be seen with the silencing and abuse of Madame Schachter, who suggests the terminal fate which awaits them all. Part of this silencing of voices was done out of denial of the horrific truth that confronted those who were victimized through the Holocaust. However, Wiesel's adamant belief that silence and indifference empowers the aggressors in all forms is represented through the treatment of characters such as Moshe.