How Can We Truly Honor the Memory of the Holocaust Victims
"And unto your light, nations shall walk, and kings unto the brightness of your rising" Isaiah 60:3.
In the near future a whole generation of Holocaust survivors will join the annals of history. Around 15,000 people who escaped the atrocities of the Third Reich and made Israel their home passed away last year, while only 190,000 remain. Their legacy and the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Shoah will be commemorated by over 45 world leaders gathering at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
The question thus arises: Do such diplomatic gatherings have any impact on avoiding similar future catastrophes?
With many organizations and countries dealing with anti-Semitism, and robust budgets assigned to tackle this worldwide problem, one might expect concrete positive results. Yet, in spite of all the suffering the Holocaust brought and millions invested in summits and sponsored trips for entire delegations to Israel, as well as for concentration camp renovations, anti-Semitism has neither vanished nor diminished. On the contrary, anti-Semitic incidents are becoming more frequent and intense.
Therefore, we will truly preserve the memory of all victims only when we can ensure that the phrase “Never again!” is not merely an empty slogan. How? We can eradicate the eternal hatred of Jews and Israel through a deep investigation into its origin and processes.
Combating Anti-Semitism at Its Root
In order to invest in a real and lasting solution that obliterates anti-Semitism completely, we require an educational program that explains why the Shoah happened and how it is possible that Jews continue to be fiercely attacked and persecuted after so many decades, particularly in Europe and the US.
The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that there are two forces that operate nature: positive and negative, and a lack of balance between them results in the disruption underlying anti-Semitism.
The purpose of these opposites is in order to let us consciously build a bridge that connects us above the contrasting forces—a balanced state in which humanity can eventually find safety and calm.
As the world becomes increasingly interdependent, humanity is inescapably enclosed as a single unit where two conflicting states prevail: interconnection on one hand, and deep division on the other. Under such pressure-cooker conditions, hatred toward Jews becomes increasingly vicious as society experiences intensifying negative effects from the contradictory forces.
Jews are targeted because the world feels that the Jewish people have a certain role that is currently not being implemented: to serve as “a light unto the nations,” and to pioneer a process of global unity that can correct society’s imbalances, ultimately bringing about a good life to all.
The more we Jews hate each other, the more the world will want to eliminate us. That is, if we fail to see a unifying purpose to our own lives here, then the nations of the world will likewise feel that there is no purpose for our living here in such a state.
Jewish Unity: the Goal
Our nation was forged upon the ideology of mercy and brotherly love, where strangers agreed to unite and bond as equals above all differences. We became a nation when we pledged to be “as one man with one heart.” Since then, it has been our duty to safeguard this connection and lead the way to its realization among humanity. This role is to be fulfilled not out of pride, but in the spirit of service to the world. The duty of Jews to the world is to execute and set an example of love of others.
As the foremost Kabbalist Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) wrote in his essay “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)”: “The Israeli nation was established as a conduit to the extent that they purify themselves [from egoism], they pass on their power to the rest of the nations.”
Therefore, any Holocaust remembrance must be more than a commemoration of the millions who died. We must seize it as an opportunity to face the future with a firm conviction to carry out our designated function, as well as to remember the consequences of not doing so: to unite above our differences and share our method for connecting the world. This is the means to prevent such atrocities from recurring.
Many of our sages have marked the safe path for us to follow. As Rabbi Kalman Kalonymus wrote in Maor va Shemesh (Light and Sun): “When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come upon them.”