I grew up hearing my father’s first-hand testimony of humanity’s darkest hour. Every detail left its indelible mark and sent me on a lifelong journey to grapple with its implications. Each story sent my faith running for cover. But each and every retreat my faith made reminded me that it existed and that while it could run, it could not hide; while it wounded easily, it would heal; while it bent out of shape, it would not break. Each assault — though painful — brought me closer to the core of my beliefs. From that close proximity I could better understand that the faith I had developed with each onslaught was no more than a bridge, a conduit, over which, my love for God could safely traverse.
Faith is a composite of emotion and understanding — love and trust. “Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa said, anyone whose awe precedes his wisdom, his wisdom will endure. And anyone whose wisdom precedes his awe, his wisdom will not endure”. (Ethics of the Fathers 3:11) The day, with its warm and fuzzy lessons of goodness and caring, instill the love and the longing that foster awe. While the night, in its horror and abandonment, forces us to rely on that awe, to lean upon it, embrace it with both hands and hold on for dear life. To endure the night is to know — beyond a doubt — that our love is real.
Within these two books lie the framework necessary for an honest exploration of faith. From the bright sands of the Egyptian exodus, with its unparalleled display of miracles and wonders to the dark shadow cast in the depths of the Holocaust, both extremes offer the necessary balance required to fully appreciate our relationship with God.