Faith and God in Elie Wiesel's Night Essay

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Faith and God in Elie Wiesel's Night

Elie Wiesel's Night is a dramatic autobiographical novel that vividly describes the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust. Words do not make justice to what happened in German concentration camps, but if one is to see a glimpse of it in a written novel, the writings of Wiesel are the place to look for it. Wiesel describes in vivid details the sheer cruelty and absolute evil of the Nazi regime. Jews who went through the Nazi Hell were profoundly transformed by the atrocious experience. So horrific was what the Jewish prisoners saw in Nazi camps that even the most devout religious persons began to question their faith in God. Elie was no exception. From being a faithful youngster who could not imagine life without his belief in God, he turned later into a questioner, interrogator, and the accuser of God. He questioned God's justice and His existence, but at the end he still remained a person with faith.

As a young boy, Elie learned the Torah and the Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. He was so devout that he used to cry while praying and he believed that praying was as part of his life as the need to eat, sleep, drink, and live. Even if his father did not approve of his desire to be a student of Kabbalah, Elie took lessons from Moishe the Beadle. When asked "Why do you cry when you
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pray?" Elie said he did not know but felt that he cried "because something inside me felt the need to cry." And when asked "Why do you pray," Elie was bewildered. "Why did I pray? Strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe?" Elie said to himself (Wiesel and Wiesel 4). Elie believed in God unconditionally. He believed that God was everywhere and that He was everything. As a student of Jewish religion, he learned that God was good, so the world must also be good then. Elie could not even imagine questioning God's existence or the power of divine justice.

His unconditional belief in the goodness of God and the world He created was, however, profoundly shaken by what he witnessed later in his life. One of the most shocking experiences was Elie's witnessing of a furnace pit where children were being burned and another pit for adults. While his father and other Jewish prisoners were praying at the grisly sight of Nazi cruelty, Elie began to question his faith. He wrote: "For the first time, I felt anger rising within me. Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank Him for?" Trembling with fear, Elie still exalted God's name. At the sight of his fellow Jewish people being burned in flames, Elie said his famous words: "Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a…

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Works Cited:

Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print.

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