Lamentations and the Holocaust
Sometimes the suffering soul needs to be given a voice rather than chicken soup….
As I have studied the book of Lamentations over the past two years, the recurring theme that stands out to me is the importance of giving voice to those who are suffering. This theme surfaces often in discussions about the Shoah (Holocaust), its victims and its survivors. Rather than seeking some sort of explanation or trying vainly to right the many wrongs done to the Jews, this vein of thinking seeks to proclaim the fact of violence and suffering, to give voice to those who have been silenced.
This is an important fact that Americans are not very good at accepting. We think that we can change everything with the right combination of persuasion and force. When we see someone suffering, our reaction is to try to find an explanation and to fix it. But sometimes there is no explanation, nor is there a real solution. The book of Lamentations briefly dwells on a shred of hope in YHWH’s faithfulness (3:21-24)–but concludes that YHWH has utterly abandoned his people to shame, suffering and death (5:21-22). To the extent that we try to explain away the anguish expressed in Lamentations, we blunt the sharp point of its message: let the sufferer be heard.
Today, on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), may those voices be heard.
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