- Series: The Library of Jewish law and ethics
- Paperback: 177 pages
- Publisher: Ktav Pub Inc; First Edition edition (May 1, 1976)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0870682962
- ISBN-13: 978-0870682964
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,522,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Holocaust and Halakhah (The Library of Jewish law and ethics) First Edition Edition
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This book is a study of the determined efforts of the Jews of Europe to conform to the patterns and norms of Halakhic Judaism during the Holocaust period. It is based in large part on rabbinic responsa written in Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Lithuania from the beginning of the Nazi regime in 1933, until the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945. Included are rabbinic rulings from the ghettos, labor camps, and death camps of the Holocaust. These responsa treat such subjects as the justifiability of suicide, murder, and abortion under the conditions obtaining at the time. They also discuss the observance of Passover, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and even Purim in the ghetto of Kovno and the Auschwitz death camp. Indeed, the range of subjects covered is as broad as the spectrum of the Halakhah itself. Moreover, the factual circumstances out of which each question arose are cited, and a summary of the legal arguments leading to the decision in the responsa are included. Holocaust and Halakhah also incorporates eyewitness and documentary material concerning the obdurate and heroic Jewish adherence to the study of Torah and the practice of mitzvot during the Holocaust.
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This book describes the various Halachic questions and rulings on issues relating to the Holocaust.
The book deals with questions as to whether it was acceptable according to Halakha for a Jew to try to save his or her life in times of murderous persecution by publicly embracing conversion to a non-Jewish faith.
The permissibility of buying a family member their right to live in exchange for the life of another Jew, and how Jewish observance of law and of fasts and holidays could or should have been observed.
In his forward the editor of the series Norman Lamm reminds us of the findings of Professor Uriel Tal in suggesting that the Nazis focused on Judaism no less than the Jews as their major enemy.'The theoreticians of of Nazism defined their movement as a "political theology" and as a form of secular messianism diametrically opposed to the religion and messianism of Judaism, which was thus conceived of as essentially anti-Nazi. The confrontation between Jews and Nazis was thus formulated as not only political and racial but also as ideological- indeed theological'.
This similar ideological battle against Judaism has been taken up by such ideologies as Communism, revolutionary leftism and Islamism.
The book recounts an incident where a kapo who is a Communist political prisoner discovers a Jew carrying a tallit katon. The kapo is engaged at the Jews steadfast belief in G-D and beats him murderously.
The book recounts how underground yeshivot were organized in the ghetto and how so many Jews gave up or risked their lives to continue with Jewish observances in the ghettos and concentration camps.
The book tells us that saying kaddish for a righteous gentile who saved Jews was certainly permissible, in fact a mitzvah (good deed).
"May He who does loving-kindness to His people Israel, repay with loving kindness the righteous ones of the nations of the world who risked their lives to save the people of Israel. |May the Almighty who blesses His people Israel with peace, bless them with everything good. May they see when G-D returns the captivity of Zion and the rebuilding of his chosen sanctuary in which we shall once again offer sacrifices in behalf of the seventy nations of the world, speedily and in our days. Amen."
The book also informs us that Jewish girls who were forced by the Nazis to act as prostitutes for Nazi officers, were exonerated completely and were permitted to their husbands.
In fact that tattoo that the Nazis stamped on these girls branding them "Prostitute for the Armies of Hitler' is a mark of their suffering for the sanctification of G-D's name and need not even be removed. It is a sign of honor and strength, not of shame and disgrace.
A fascinating volume on how Jewish Halakah related to the the Jewish people's greatest catastrophy of modern times.
I will cite one harrowing event of the many related in the work.
" On the eighth of Heshvan 5702 (October 29,1941) a day known to Kovno Jews as " The Black Day" the Germans commanded that all the Jews from the ghetto, under penalty of death, assemble in the Demokratia Platz for a selektion. Some thirty thousand, men, women and children stood before the Gestapo selector,Raukah, on a stormy , gray day. Snow and rain mixed together fell on the faces of the victims and mingled with their tears. No one knew whether he or his loved ones would return alive.
In the crowd of Jews, a certain Reb Elyah from Warsaw, a refugee who had futilely thought to escape the Germans by fleeing to Lithuania from Poland, approached Rabbi Oshry. He knew, he said, that many thousands of those who stood there that day would be killed on the morrow. He, too , might well be included in their number. And so he asked what was the proper and precise form of the benediction to be recited before sanctifying the name of God through martyrdom. Was it ' all kiddush ha- shem' who has commanded us concerning the sanctification of the Name'? Or would it be more correct to say le'kadesh et ha- shem' - who has commanded us to sanctify the Name? Reb Elyah wanted to know the correct benediction not only for his own sake. He proposed- as perhaps his last mitzvah on earth to pass among the throng of Jews packed into Demoktratia Platz and teach it to others so that they, too might recite the benediction which the din- the law required.
Rabbi Oshry instructed Reb Elyah to recite the benediction as it is found in the Sheneh Luhot ha-Brit (Sha'ar ha-Otiot 1),'le' kadesh et shemo ba'rabim' who has sanctified us by His commandments and commanded us to sanctify His name in the presence of many." He indicated that according to Riva, the use of the word al in a benediction is restricted to commandments that could be performed in one's behalf by an agent.Since kiddush- ha- shem was obviously not such a mitzvah , it would require the use of the infinite with the lamed l'kadesh. Reb Elyah repeated the proper form several times, and then went through the crowd teaching it toothers so that if and when the time came for them to die as martyrs , they would have the merit of having recited the proper benediction.'