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Before I read the book Night and Book of Job, I did not realize the powerfulness of a religion to their followers. I use to think all forms of pray are purposeful, people pray to God because they want God to fulfill their wishes such as health, success, and happiness. People pray to God because they want to confess their misconducts so they can get rid of their guiltiness. In the present material world, it is difficult for me to distinguish the pure relation between followers and God without any interference. However, the book Night and Book of Job really gives a chance to see how the pure relation of followers to God changes in an extreme situation where no much material interrupts. The extreme brutal situation in those two books can reveal the most of humanity that may challenge the strongest faith and religious beliefs.
At the very beginning of Night, Eliezer had a really strong relationship with God as described in the book that Eliezer was passionate about learning Zohar, Kabbalah works and the secrets of Jewish mysticism from Moishe the Beadle, which reflects his indubitable and strong faith in God. When Moishe the Beadle asked him why he prays, Eliezer cannot think an answer “Why did I pray? Strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe?”. This reflects Wiesel believed that religion was a basic need for survival, indicating that he instinctively followed his religion, just like any other bodily function of his. After been moved into the camp, Eliezer maintained confidence in religion as the situation deteriorated. He thanked God for the new shoes been covered with mud, so the Kapo had not noticed. He “thanked God, in an improvised prayer, for having created mud in His infinite and wonderful wisdom”. Wiesel thanked god for the little things he had done for him because he wanted a sense of protection and believed God would protect them and help them through difficult times. After being tortured physically and mentally in the camp, Eliezer’s faith in God was shaken and he started to doubt the justice of God. Unexpected tortures and cruel environment evoke personal skepticism. For people with religious, they may first reflect themselves to see whether it’s a punishment for their misconduct. But when they cannot explain the rationale behind the tortures they have suffered, they began to question their believed God. What Eliezer has been through reminds him the story of Job, “as for me, I had ceased to pray. I concurred with Job! I was not denying His existence, but I doubted His absolute justice”. He has the same feeling that Job had to God, as they both don’t understand why they have to suffer all this and why God is giving them the trauma. So, as what Job does, Eliezer started questioning God and also questing also the moral suspicion of justice which shows the anger of a human who has been played by the unknown fate.
The question that Job and Eliezer’s had to God is not a question for Akiba Drumer in the book Night, Akiba has the answer “God is testing us. He wants to see whether we are capable of overcoming our base instincts, of killing the Satan within ourselves. We have no right to despair. And if He punishes us mercilessly, it is a sign that He loves us that much more…”. No matter its self-comforting or not, this is the answer that both Job and Eliezer don’t want to believe, even though it’s a religious belief. When Eliezer was forced to witness the slow hanging death of a child, Eliezer had a conversation deeply from his heart “Behind me, I heard the same man asking: For God’s sake, where is God? And from within me, I heard a voice answer: “Where He is? This is where—hanging here from this gallows.” Eliezer’s words showed his despair, and the optimism about humankind, trust in the world, confidence in God were destroyed in his heart. The God is now dead in the soul of a child who suddenly faces the absolute evil. Even though Eliezer said he no longer believed in God, but he never doubted the existence of God. He says “in spite of myself, a prayer formed inside me, a prayer to this God in whom I no longer believed”. Eliezer pray to God subconsciously, which reflecting he has not lost all faith in his religion yet. He claims that he no longer believes in God, but he turns to God unconsciously when he is doubtful of his ability to control himself.
Compare with Job, Eliezer’s faith in God is diminishing as more psychological trauma imposed on him. As for Job, his faith is more persistent than Eliezer as Job is patiently in searching for God. Although Job feel frustrated and don’t know why he would suffer, but he is determined to be loyal to God and perseverance. Job emphasized, “till I die I will not put away my integrity from me”. Job wants to find God and complain, but he couldn’t find God physically. He felt that God was hidden in man’s heart, so he decided to persist in pursuing wisdom by fearing God and avoiding evil. Eliezer’s relationship with God went through ups and downs, which eventually changes his views about God. Throughout the book Night, Eliezer’s believe in God diminished from profound to cynical, but for the author (the real model of Eliezer) – Elie Wiesel, he retained his faith again after the horrifying experience in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. In his Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, he says “Words of gratitude. First to our common Creator” which indicates he regained the faith and his faith and beliefs are with him now and forward in the future.
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