The lesson the Hasidic (peaceful) jews want to teach fellow jews, that those who are faithful survived "because of faith" while the zionist jews "who believed in the gun" often perished in the holocaust.Religious Jews whose faith the Nazis could not break
As far as I know, this book was the first collection of Hasidic responses to the Holocaust to make it out of the "Jewish literary ghetto" and into the mainstream, where it remains a popular read in both Jewish and non-Jewish theological circles. It was also the first collection of stories about Jews who did NOT lose their faith during the Holocaust (most of them, anyway -- there are one or two exceptions in the book.) Prior to this, religious Jews in the Holocaust were portrayed by the media as as "cowards who didn't fight back" rather than the religious martyrs that they were. (Most typical of this anti-religious period is the infamous line from the movie version of Leon Uris's EXODUS: "The only god I believe in is a gun.") I won't go into the politics of it here, but, suffice it to say, the post-Holocaust Zionist movement was more interested in freedom fighters than saints.The Hasidim, however, had a different view of their suffering during the Holocaust. God had not deserted them, even if He seemed hidden in a time of darkness. The Hasidim were telling their own Holocaust stories around the Sabbath table or at community gatherings but, because most of this telling was oral and in Yiddish, it was unknown to the general public. Enter Yaffa Eliach. As a professor of English literature at Brooklyn College, she began hearing these tales from her students. Brooklyn College had/has a high percentage of Hasidic students and, through them, Eliach got to know their parents and other Holocaust survivors, including some of the Hasidic Rebbes. The result is a fine collection of true Holocaust stories that will forever change the way you view Hasidic Jews. Courage, as this book demonstrates, doesn't always mean grabbing a gun. It can also mean hiding a child, sharing your food when you yourself are starving, or meeting death with your human dignity intact. To maintain one's faith under such adversity, to continue studying Torah and doing the mitzvahs even in a concentration camp -- these were acts of true resistance that shine throughevery page of this book. I give it ten stars!
Sure. There is however a worldly explanation: The zionist jews "who believe in the gun" indeed often perished (due to combat and firefights with SD, SiPo, Einsatzgruppen, Local Order Police etc) while the peaceful Hasidic jews were sitting in the camps and ghettos "to continue studying Torah and doing the mitzvahs even in a concentration camp -- these were acts of true resistance that shine through"---and survived in much larger numbers. Understandably.