Wednesday, December 22, 2010

10th Tevet and the Theological Significance of the Shoah

Last Friday was Asara BeTevet, the Fast of the 10th Tevet, which marks the beginning of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem that ultimately led to the destruction of the first temple. Following the establishment of Israel, an argument ensued between those who wanted to fix the date as also representing a "general kaddish day" for victims of the Holocaust and those who claimed that the Holocaust deserved its own unique day of memorial (which is where Yom Hashoah comes in).

The disagreement is not solely a question of semantics. Instead, it touches on whether the Holocaust is simply one in a long list of tragedies to have befallen the Jewish people throughout the ages or whether it constitutes a unique historical and theological event.

In the Shiur, we looked at traditional and modern sources in order to better understand this issue. Covering Fackenheim, Berkovits, Arthur Cohen, Primo Levi, Kalnymous Kalman Shapira and others, we touched on whether the Shoah can be viewed within the classic framework of why bad things happen to good people, whether each generation has its own 'Auschwitz problem', and to what extent the idea of rejecting God is within the Jewish tradition.

We also began to investigate how post Holocaust theologians attempt to recreate new language (Fackenheim's '614th Commandment', Levi's 'Shema', Wiesel's 'new Bereshit' and Cohen's 'Red Sea of evil parting time and space') in order to try and come to terms with an event they see as unique in Jewish history.

Click here for the
source sheet, here for the audio recording (right click to save and download.)


charlie salem said...

Great shiur!!!!!Charlie Salem

charlie salem said...

Just came across this from LIFE MAGAZINE - a photo essay around a new book. The book is called ' The Lampshade' and it's by US writer Mark Jacobson. The fact that we are so close in terms of 'timing' to the shoah endorses what one lady at the shiur said about the imagery being more available. Therefore by sheer force of 'evidence' the shoah maybe seen and judged as being distinct from other catastrophes.
Charlie Salem