The Jewish Holocaust – known also as the Shoah – poses a real challenge to the religious believers.
They are generally brought up to believe that there is an almighty God who manages a system of reward and punishment. Furthermore, all kinds of disasters are often explained by misbehaving according to the religious rules. So what was the terrible sin of six million Jews (many of whom were children and babies)?
Since religion must have clear explanation to everything, there have been many attempts to reconcile reality to the religious story. Creative minds invented several excuses, which when said by spiritual leaders – gain a lot of credibility, as if it’s the truth.
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Some people mention the “next world” – you know Heaven and Hell. If you want to sort out the balance, just add a hidden account. People who suffer in vain here, will get the benefits they deserve later. After they die, in fact. And of course vice versa: People who enjoy in spite of their evil deeds, will pay later.
There is a bit of a contradiction between Jewish Heaven, Christian Heaven and Muslim Heaven. Will a virgin girl murdered for nothing by a Muslim Shaheed share the same Heaven with him? It should be more like Hell for her in that case… Anyway, we’re yet to see the first evidence of any Heaven (or Hell for that matter). And I’m not sure many would voluntarily suffer so much in order to collect Heaven points.
Others often mention the notion of “mutual responsibility”. If you sin then I also suffer. This is how some of the religious mechanisms work – sort of “we’re all in the same boat”. To complement this, one of my jobs, as a believer, is also to make sure you do everything right. This gives the excuse for religious politicians to enforce religious verdicts and put them into modern official law.
Some mainstream Jewish religious leaders in Israel have perfected this notion by adding the time axis. Balance of religious sins is being accumulated collectively over the years, and when reaching a certain threshold – all hell breaks loose, on Earth that is.
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The Holocaust was a traumatic event for most of the survivors, many of whom freed themselves of religious restrictions and beliefs afterwards. Ironically, perhaps this is one of main points of compensation.