By Alan L. Berger
Publication through Berger, Alan L.
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Additional resources for Crisis and covenant: the Holocaust in American Jewish fiction
Certainly something happened to the relations between man and God, man and man, man and himself. 7 Contemporary religious responses to the Holocaust in fiction adopt the Lurianic notion of man's restorative task: helping to free God by liberating divine sparks. These sparks are, testified the Ba'al Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism, everywhere. In all that man does, including the telling of tales, he is potentially capable of assisting God. Covenant and Modernity The advent of modernity and the widespread acceptance of Enlightenment premises constituted a massive challenge to the notion of covenantal assumptions concerning God's sovereignty over history, the meaning of theodicy, and the nature of the divine-human Page 7 relationship.
Even assimilationist Jews were viewed with suspicion. The poet Heinrich Heine, himself a convert to Christianity, accurately predicted that at his death neither mass nor kaddish would be said. Modernism and its secularizing impulse confronted Jews with a paradox. It soon became apparent that the word Jew had a social as well as a religious and biological definition for both Jews and non-Jews. For Jews, heredity, more than religious belief, became the determinative factor of their Jewish identity.
Cohen, Cynthia Ozick, and Hugh Nissenson, for example, utilize biblical, messianic, and mystical themes in their attempt to maintain a covenantal perspective on the catastrophe. Their specifically religious focus has much in common with both Wiesel's trial of God (din Torah) and Isaac Bashevis Singer's recognition of evil's reality and its complex relationship to the realm of the sacred. Cohen, Ozick, Nissenson, Singer and Wiesel affirm that authentic religious response to covenant crisis is the norm of the present no less than of the past.
Crisis and covenant: the Holocaust in American Jewish fiction by Alan L. Berger