The holiday season makes you think of God, and Goodness, and why life can be so crazy. Why there are pandemics in this world. Why evil people harm the innocents.
Throughout my life, I have often sought counsel from people whose worlds were truly turned upside down. What words of wisdom do they have to share, to help succeeding generations persevere through hellacious times?
Many of these sages have been survivors of the Holocaust. I have come to know them in the community in which I settled and raised my family. At some point, pipelines opened up from New York and Paterson to the New Jersey suburbs, and these refugees from the ovens of Europe finally found a peace of sorts in Cape Cod houses with green lawns.
You can imagine that for many, the peace was relative. For sure it was pure heaven to walk to synagogue on the Sabbath, than to walk to your death in a labor camp march. But I know that for some, even though their bodies were on the sidewalks of Fair Lawn, their minds were still in the cattle cars of Poland or Germany.
But not all. I always wondered why some were able to make the best of what America had to offer, while their brethren remained paralyzed in the Nazi nightmare. As I got to know them, as neighbors and friends and fellow religious congregants, I began to see that they really understood how the world works.
One man in particular had a huge impact on me. He was very religious, so you might think his faith in God would have been shattered by the tortures of Auschwitz.
But not so.
Actually, his faith had become stronger through his ordeal! This is how he described his feelings to me:
"God picked me up when I stumbled. He carried me when I could go no further. He breathed life into me when I thought I was dead."
"And to this day He still gives me life."
"I have no problem with God. I blame the Nazis."
There you have it. When people mess up, you hold them accountable. Don't blame God. Blame the evil man trying to play God - with your life.
With regards to the current pandemic, the finger points first at the brutal communist Chinese regime.