12 April was Yom haSho’ah, the day devoted to commemorating the Holocaust in the Jewish calendar. Every year, the same question arises: “How could God let that happen?" I think we need to reframe that question, asking instead, "How could we let that happen?" The Sho'ah should shatter our faith in the goodness of us not in the goodness of God; it is humanity whose verdict is confirmed by the trial of the Sho'ah.

Perhaps instead of asking, 'Why didn't...' we should look at what we know about the ways in which God does intervene in the events of history. Consider the Exodus: God allows the Israelites to be enslaved and subjugated for over 400 years and an entire generation of infants to be drowned. When God does intervene it is as passively as possible— speaking to and through righteous human beings. Perhaps we can ask why God did not simply kill Pharaoh with a heart attack? Why did God not simply pull the Israelites out after 4 years, or even 40, waiting instead until 400 had passed?!

The answer, for better or worse, is simple: that just isn't the way it works— and that's okay. God has given humanity free will, and the cost of that extraordinary gift is accountability and responsibility. God is not "personally" responsible for our failures or our successes, our kindnesses or our violences— we are. This year and every year, as we remember those who were killed in the Holocaust, we must also remember who is ultimately accountable and hold them so: not God, but humanity.

Readers who submit articles must agree to our terms of use. The content is the sole responsibility of the contributor and is unmoderated. But we will react if anything that breaks the rules comes to our attention. If you wish to complain about this article, contact us here