Project Genesis

Judging Judaism by Jews

Question: I’ve been told by a survivor of the concentration camps of the holocaust, that certain Kapos brutalized their fellow inmates. He even told about the evils perpetrated by a kapo from a religious background. How could a Jew do such a thing?

Answer: There is no defense for the horrible actions of these Jews. As you know there is evil in the world and in people, and the horrors of the holocaust brought out these terrible evils in man.

The issue of some Jews having acted in a horrible way is connected to the general question of why God allows any evil to exist. People make bad decisions every day, although certainly not as evil as some of those of made in the holocaust. We understand that G-d has given free choice to man, and with that freedom comes the possibility of evil. As Jews, and modern Americans, we can certainly appreciate the fact that freedom has certain dangers, but those dangers do not justify the destruction of freedom. The Western world embraces freedom and its dangers while the religious Muslim resists this freedom.

If the fact that “religious” Jews behaved in this horrible way troubles you, then I would encourage you to read about the thousands of religious Jews who acted with kindness in these horrible times. There are many stories of acts of compassion, self sacrifice, and faith. But does that confirm the value of religious Jews?

Rabbi Berel Wein, a wonderful teacher of mine, would often say, “Do not judge Judaism by Jews.” Human beings are unpredictable and flawed. We cannot judge G-d’s Judaism based of the mistakes of a small number of Jews.

Best wishes,

Rabbi Garfield

[Editor – See here for another analysis on the phenomenon of Jewish kapos.]

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