Study Guide

Night Religion

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Eliezer presents the Jewish faith in a moment of extreme darkness. When Eliezer witnesses the horror of the Auschwitz concentration camps—especially the gruesome murder of babies and young children—he feels that his God has been murdered before his eyes. Eliezer cannot reconcile the atrocities that he sees with his notion of God. He does not stop believing in God, but loses his faith that God is absolutely just. Eliezer brings up questions like: Is God completely indifferent to man’s suffering? Is He a good God? Does He deserve the praise of the Jews who are suffering? Other Jews in the concentration camps experience a similar loss of faith: Akiba Drumer gives up and dies once he loses his faith in God, and a rabbi feels horrible guilt at doubting God’s mercy. In the concentration camps, many men continue to observe Rosh Hashanah and other religiously significant days, but it is unclear how many of them retain their faith.

Questions About Religion

  1. In Night, is suffering more likely to destroy or strengthen faith?
  2. How does Eliezer’s characterization and understanding of God change over time in Night?
  3. How does Eliezer contrast God with man?
  4. What does Eliezer mean when he says that God was murdered? What does he mean when he says that God is hanging on the gallows?
  5. Night begins with an exploration of some of the mystical truths in the Kabbalah. Do those truths presented by Moishe the Beadle bear up under Eliezer’s experience?

Chew on This

Although Eliezer argues that man is stronger than God, it is God he prays to for strength in moments of extreme despair, proving that his faith in God remains.

Though Eliezer believes God to be indifferent to the suffering of the Jews, Eliezer does not become indifferent to God; rather he seeks to be seen, whether through attempting to punish or pray to God.

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