Night By Ellie Wiesel Essay, Research Paper
“How did Wiesel s belief in God change through his camp experiences?”
Why do people s beliefs change? What would cause a strong believer in God to no longer acknowledge his existence? These changes could be a result of things experienced in a person s life. In Elie Wiesel s book, Night, Elie loses his faith in God because he experienced firsthand the Nazi death camp horrors.
At the age of twelve, Elie Wiesel was a strong believer in God. He read the Talmud daily and visited the synagogue nightly. He even asked his father to find a master to guide him in his studies of the cabbala. (pg.l) Elie made friends with Moshe the Beadle. They talked for hours of the revelations and mysteries of the cabbala. (p. 3) Even when the Nazis began acting unfairly towards him and other Jews, he still kept his faith in God.
When the Germans arrived, they brought with them the anti-Jewish decrees and the ghettos. These things didn t seem to have much effect on Elie. He sat with some of his schoolmates in the Ezra Maik gardens, studying the Talmud. (p. 10) He continued to fast (p. 15) The Nazis beat him and other Jews with truncheons, forcing them to run in the infernal heat, as they were being transferred from the little ghetto to the big ghetto. When Elie Wiesel reached his destination, he sank down exhausted. Instead of cursing and questioning God, Elie asked Him to have mercy on him and the others. (p. 17).
Elie first started to lose his faith in God after he arrived in Birkenau. What was in store for him and the others finally hit him. The others figured it out too and began weeping and reciting the Kaddish for themselves. Elie didn t join them. He asked himself why he should praise God. What had God done for him? (p. 31) That firs night in camp represented many things for Elie. As he watched the burning of many innocent children, his God was murdered. (p. 32)
In Buna, Elie Wiesel experienced more Nazi death camp horrors, like the hangings he was forced to watch. One day, along with many other Jews, Elie had to watch the slow, agonizing death of a pipel. When the pipel finally died, a man behind Elie asked: “Where is God now?” A voice inside of Elie answered that He was there, hanging on the gallows (p. 62) Elie felt that his God was dead and departed from him. The arrival of the Jewish holidays stirred up more rebellious feelings in Elie. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, while the others praised God, Elie could only watch and wonder. He marveled at how they continued to sing praises to the one who allowed them to be senselessly tortured, butchered, gassed, and burned. (p. 64) He recalled past New Year s when the day dominated his life, but now it was like any other day. On Yom Kippur, there were debates over whether they should fast or not. To fast would mean a quicker death. Elie chose not to fast, mainly to please his father. It was also an act of rebellion against God. (p. 66)
Even though Elie claimed not to believe in God any longer, there were times when he d find himself praying to Him in spite of himself. In one barracks, the Jews were forced to remain standing. Their feet sank into the mud floor. The Nazis came and began beating people in order to take their new shoes. Elie had new shoes but his were unnoticed, because they were caked with mud. He thanked God for having created mud. (p. 35) Some children abandoned their parents in order to better their chances for survival, like Rabbi Eliahou s son did. Elie asked God to never give him the strength to do what the rabbi s son did. (p. 87) Elie compared himself to Job once. He said he didn t deny God s existence but doubted his obsolete justice. (p. 42)
Elie Wiesel was a witness to the death of many things clear to him. His family perished, his innocence died, and his God was murdered. It s amazing how he changed. His life was committed to God and his cabbalist studies. He thought he had his future mapped out. Elie had no idea what was in store for him. His dreams were crushed by the hands of the evil Nazis. The tortures they inflicted upon him cause his beliefs about God to change. Elie Wiesel loses faith in the God who he used to serve with all his heart.