For an enlarged, easier to read index click here . To "google search" this site, scroll to the bottom of this page. (This site is best viewed with "Firefox")

(Tips: F11 key enables full screen viewing & Ctrl-F to search the index)


SCHAR V'ONESH-----holocaust / chochom ovadia

Here is something I don’t get...
What was Rav Ovadia Yosef talking about when he said that those who perished in the Holocaust were reincarnations of sinners from the past? I heard this on CNN, and have been asked about this by my not yet frum relatives. What do I tell them?
Thank you

First, tell them that while the job of a rabbi is to say the truth even if it unpopular, the job of the leader of a political party is to say things that will make him popular. As both a rabbi of enormous renown and the head of a political party, the Chacham Ovadia has B”H chosen to say what he believes rather what is politically advantageous for him. Personally, I wish all my politicians would possess that kind of candor. The world would be a much better place.

However, even a “political” politician often gets his words twisted, taken out of context, and plain mistreated by his political opponents. An honest and outspoken person in the same political spotlight is a sitting duck for the pastimes of political antagonists.

That’s what happened here.

Before we get to what he said, let’s first clarify what he did NOT say.

He did NOT say that the righteous martyrs of the holocaust, including young children, were really evil because of sins committed in a past life. Gilgulim notwithstanding, evil and righteousness is determined by a person’s willful actions during his “current” lifetime.

The Chacham Ovadiah said something else. There are many reasons that our Tzadikim have given for the holocaust, all basically pointing in the direction of the holocaust being a Divine response to some widespread misconduct on the part of Klall Yisorel as a whole. This is no different than when Chazal attributed the deaths, suffering, and destruction of the Bais Hamikdash to various sins that took place at that time. (And no, there were no prophets during the second destruction.)

Throughout history, whenever calamity befell Klall Yisroel, we held it obligatory to access the cause of the suffering, so that we will know what it is within us that needs improvement, and to make sure we know how never to allow that suffering to return.

So the Chasid Yaavetz wrote a sefer, Ohr HaChaim, analyzing the causes of the Inquisition.

Rav Elchonon Wasserman ZTL analyzes the causes of our suffering during the blood libels in Europe.

Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky ZT”L, in the introduction to Achiezer analyses the causes of our suffering during World War I.

The Satmar Rav ZTL, in the introduction to Vayoel Moshe, analyzes the causes of our suffering during WWII.

But after all of this, a question remains: Not everyone who died r suffered in any of these tragedies was guilty of whatever crime the sufferings have been attributed to. And although Chazal tell us that whenever punishment is unleashed in the world, innocent people suffer together with the guilty, there is still need for further explanation, as follows:

Granted that innocent people sometimes suffer, but why? And why specifically these people? If G-d knew that innocent people would suffer, why could the innocent victims not have been born and lived in America or the Middle East, thereby being spared the pain? Surely, in a world controlled by Hashem, it is not random chance that causes some people to suffer for no reason other than they were in the “wrong place at the wrong time?”

So let’s get the question straight before we answer it. The question is NOT “why were the victims guilty?” but rather “why did they die even though they were innocent?”

The Chacham Ovadiah’s answer is that sometimes innocent people, righteous, blameless, honorable people, die in this world in horrible ways.

Everyone dies. Some people die horribly. But there is always a reason. And sometimes, when someone comes into this world, he is already, before he steps foot out into the light, destined to die in a certain place, at a certain time, in a certain way. And it will have nothing to do with his guilt or innocence. Rather, it will have to do with the pre-determined fate of his migrating soul. Not HIM, his soul. This is a mystical, Kabalistic concept where people have predetermined destinies in this world that they are not even aware of, because they share their life on this world with a soul, which, unlike the person himself, has already been creating its destiny in past lives.

The Chacham Ovadiah is not attributing guilt to the victims who were not guilty. He is giving a reason why innocent people sometimes suffer. Would your not-yet religious friends prefer that Hashem allows innocent people to suffer for NO reason? Were the victims innocent or guilty? If innocent, then why should one innocent person suffer and not the next? If G-d is not random, then this makes no sense.

So now we know it does make sense, because there are other reckonings besides guilt and innocence. There is the predestined fate of the soul, which does not make the owner of the soul guilty.

Moderator- has anyone in your family died in the holocaust? All my grandparents were survivors. Over half their families were murdered. I refuse to believe for a second about gilgul neshamot and innocent people dying with sinners.

First of all, don't you recall the Rambam about Iyov? It's about Onaat dervarim. Everyone came to him about the loss of his family members and said it must have been because he sinned. What we learned from Iyov is that the balance of good and evil in this world is done in a way beyond our capacity to acknowledge. God alone judges. It is the rasha who gives a reason for someone's death.

My father is a survivor. My grandfather, unfortunately, did not survive.

If you do not want to believe in gilgulim that is your business. But Rav Ovadiah is not bound to your personal beliefs, therefore, your comments do not impact on the topic, which is what Rav Ovadiah said, not what mevaseret believes. The only beliefs Rav Ovadiah is bound to are those of the Torah.

The Iyov issue has nothing to do with our topic. The problem with Iyov was that they attributed sin to Iyov based on the punishment his relatives received. Other than that, there was no reason to assume Iyov committed any sin. If they do not know of any sin Iyov committed, they have no right to derive evil in him based on punishment.

We see from there that just because a person's relatives suffer does not mean he is a sinner.

But if we know he sinned, then of course he is a sinner!

Those that attribute the holocaust to sins of the Jews are not deriving any previously unknown sins. The sins were there, the irreligiosity was there, holocaust or no holocaust. They are merely attributing retribution to evil that we already know exists.

Had the holocaust not happened, the sinners would still be judged as sinners; the sins still judged as sins; as opposed to Iyov who was judged a sinner not because of known sins but because of the suffering.

That's regarding those who attribute the holocaust to certain sins. Rav Ovadiah was not even doing that. Again, Rav Ovadiah was not reducing the holiness or the innocence of the martyrs; he is not attributing any guilt to them at all (hence no comparison can be made to Iyov). Sins in past lives do not confer guilt, but rather fate.

According to you, how did Chazal know that the Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed because of sinas chinam? Were they "reshaim" for saying it? Would you claim that such a statement insults those who died in the Destruction?

No comments: