September 1, 2016, New York
Night, by Elie Wiesel
Few things in life are as frustrating as regret; looking back and knowing there was something you could have done to prevent the current situation from coming about.
If only I had....gone to college, prepared food before the storm, made sure I had gas before the trip, double checked that I had my passport....I could have avoided untold trouble, or as they say in Yiddish, Tzaros...which has a whole different flavor.
All these tzaros, (pain, headache, aggravation, waste of time, hardship, expense etc) could have been avoided had I planned ahead properly, and that makes it all the worse.
When something totally unpredictable happens, we don't feel as bad as it was beyond our control, beyond our ability to predict. What hurts is when we should have, could have, would have, seen it coming.
The Jews of Poland where warned by some "Prophets of Doom" that a Holocaust was coming. They did not head the warning. It could be said in their defense that such things had never happened before, not on such a scale. But the Jews of Hungary, Transylvania, that was a different story.
It was 1944, and the Jews of these regions felt pretty safe. They convinced themselves that they were safe from harm. It could not, it would not happen here.
But soon they were in Auschwitz. A fellow Jew greeted the new arrivals with harsh words; "Sons of bitches, why have you come here?" (page 48)
Eventually one man answered, angrily. Do you think we came here of our own choice? Did we choose to come here??
The veteran barked back with an explanation, Don't you know what is in store for you here in Auschwitz? this is 1944.
"Over there. Do you see the chimney over there? Do you see it? And the flames, do you see them?"
"Over there, that's where they will take you. Don't you understand anything? You will be burned" (49)
In the new introduction to the book "Night", Francois Mauriac writes,"The fate of the Jews of the small town in Transylvania called Sighet: their blindness as they confronted a destiny from which they would still have had time to flee."
Let us think about those words, and yet without judgement, just to learn.
There was still time
A part of the tragedy was that there was still time to flee, there was still time to do something about it. The Jews of Poland were taken without much warning, but the Jews of this region had several years during which they continued to fool themselves.
Why did you come here??? You Idiot, don't you know what this place is?? You had a chance, why did you not take it?
And we, today, must ask ourselves the very same questions.
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