by Elie Wiesel
Night Religion Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
He [Moishe] told me what had happened to him and his companions. The train with the deportees had crossed the Hungarian border and, once in Polish territory, had been taken over by the Gestapo. The train had stopped. The Jews were ordered to get off and onto waiting trucks. The trucks headed toward a forest. There everybody was ordered to get out. They were forced to dig huge trenches. When they had finished their work, the men from the Gestapo began theirs. Without passion or haste, they shot their prisoners, who were forced to approach the trench one by one and offer their necks. Infants were tossed into the air and used as targets for the machine guns. This took place in the Galician forest, near Kolomay. How had he, Moishe the Beadle, been able to escape? By a miracle. He was wounded in the leg and left for dead…
Day after day, night after night, he went from one Jewish house to the next, telling his story and that of Malka, the young girl who lay dying for three days, and that of Tobie, the tailor who begged to die before his sons were killed.
Moishe was not the same. The joy in his eyes was gone. He no longer sang. He no longer mentioned either God or Kabbalah. He spoke only of what he had seen. But people not only refused to believe his tales, they refused to listen. Some even insinuated that he only wanted their pity, that he was imagining things. Others flatly said that he had gone mad. (1.29-31)
Moishe, a deeply religious man, no longer speaks of "God or Kabbalah" after he witnesses the massacre of Jews by the German Gestapo. This is only mentioned briefly, but are we to assume that, like Eliezer later, in the face of the horrors he sees, Moishe has lost his faith in God?
I looked at my house in which I had spent years seeking my God, fasting to hasten the coming of the Messiah, imagining what my life would be like later. Yet I felt little sadness. My mind was empty. (1.55)
Although his faith has not yet died, on leaving his home for transport to a concentration camp, Eliezer leaves some of his religious pursuits behind, along with his childhood home, and some of his innocence.
Everybody around us was weeping. Someone began to recite Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. I don’t know whether, during the history of the Jewish people, men have ever before recited Kaddish for themselves.
"Yisgadal, veyiskadash, shmey raba … May His name be celebrated and sanctified …" whispered my father.
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? (3.61-63)
As they enter Birkenau and begin to realize the horrors that surround them, Eliezer begins to lose his unconditional devotion to God.