Tonight we in the Jewish community will take time out of our busy lives to remember the Holocaust. It was a dark time in our history and yet only 70 years after it occurred, there are many people both young and old who have never heard anything about it. Before this last Holocaust of WW2, there were the pogroms that drove many people out of Eastern Europe to seek refuge in other lands where they would be welcomed, at least for time. Before that, we remember the horrors of Spanish Inquisition which lasted well over 200 years.  As we travel back throughout the history of our people, we can see a pattern emerging; we were being sheltered in a land as if by the hand of a loving father who supplied all our needs, we lived for awhile in peace and prosperity after which we would forget the One who formed us and we began to assimilate into the cultures of those who knew nothing of our God. As our prophet Yeshayahu said, “Each of us like sheep has gone astray; each has turned to his own way…” and so we reaped the consequences of our behavior.

Why is it so difficult for us to understand this simple principle?  I can remember when I was 3 years old, my brother and I were playing in the kitchen where my mother was cooking. There was a large pot of water boiling on the stove and she warned us not to play near the stove.  Being children, we of course didn’t listen to her warning and I bumped into the stove causing the boiling water to pour all over me. I wailed in pain and my mother ran over to take care of me, soothing my pain and making sure that I was well taken care of. She didn’t scold me in the moment of my agony but it was clear that I had suffered because I was disobedient.  Were her warnings to us because she hated us and wanted to place rigid laws upon us to spoil our fun?

Could I blame my mother because I got hurt yet this is how we tend to look at our Creator and the Commandments He gave to us? It is these very Commandments, His Torah that He asked our nation, the nation of Israel who He formed, to bring to the rest of humanity so that we could all live in peace, safety and harmony. But what is the nature of the beast? We see this in the two year old child who says “I do it myself!”  We prefer our ways to God’s ways and so we suffer.

Yes the Holocaust was a horrendous time in the history of man demonstrating the depth of evil to which not even animals will descend. But like cancer which is really a symptom that something is seriously wrong with us at a deeper level and then manifests itself in the body, we need to examine what is the root that causes such evil to emerge in mankind. For me, the revelation that God gave to us Torah is the answer. It is the only book that didn’t begin with one person’s revelation; it began with God’s revelation to an entire people consisting of both Jew and Gentile at the base of Mount Sinai. It does not give us a religion but it gives us the principles of how to have a relationship with our Creator and then with each other. It alone holds the key about how to stop future Holocausts.

Shema Israel Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad  שְׁמַע, יִשְׂרָאֵל:  יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יְהוָה אֶחָד.