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Bucher 1
Korey Bucher
History of the Holocaust
Professor Sharfmen
January 17, 2008
What a World
In today society there are many things that will make us feel optimistic at times and
pessimistic at other times. These are all judge by a point of view. For example if there is a
glass of water sitting in front of you, and that glass is filled up with water to the half way mark,
what is it? Is it half empty or half full? Different people would say different things. So when I
was asked to determine how I felt about the stories in Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust, I would
have to say that I feel both optimistic about the stories and a sense of pessimism about the
stories. The tales in this book will make you feel happy but at the same time a sense of
The first example that I am going to give you is in the tale of Number 145053. This boy
was sick as I am sure you are familiar with the story. They went to a rabbi to make him better.
The rabbi made him drink some tea and then told the boy that you will survive through very
harsh times. The boy, named Samuel, years later was a POW and escaped. Samuel was again
captured and taken to Posen. In that camp he met up with his brothers. While he was with
them however, his brothers were hung. He was put on a train to Auschwitz. When he got
there he passed the first selection committee and was stamped with the number 14053. All
those numbers added up to 18 which is a lucky number.
Bucher 2
As you can tell this story would make you feel happy and filled with optimism that every
Jew would make through the Holocaust alive. I was happy and excited because Samuel made it
through ok. So many difficult times that young man went through. Samuel did some many
great things with his life disserved to make it through ok and unharmed. One could say the
same thing about every Jew that went into the Holocaust.
We can also see the pessimism in that story. I felt so bad about how he had to go
through being sick as a child and overcoming that. No child should be born with that. Also,
when he had to see his brothers hung. This then reminds me of what all the other Jews and
Gipsy’s had to go through. It reminds me of how many people died in the concentration camps
and as a POW. It makes me feel disappointed that so many other people around the world did
not come to the aid of the people.
Also we can look at some of these stories as being both uplifting and making you feel
good or feeling the contrary and making you feel sad and morbid. If we look at the story,
Hovering over the Pit, we can see that this is a very uplifting story. The rabbi talks about God
and the will of God. The rabbi’s friend thinks that they should just sit in the pit and wait for the
Nazi’s to shoot them dead. On the contrary, the rabbi believes that they should try to jump the
pit. If it is Gods will for us to live then we will live but if not we will drop down and we will be in
the presence of God. When they finally jump, they make it across and they believe that is was
Gods will for them.
This story really makes me look at my faith and the word destiny. If something is truly
meant to happen then God will somehow make it happen. I was really relieved when the two
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people made it across the Pit. This gave me a sense of optimism that people who just tried to
maybe fulfill Gods could. Maybe God is not all that bad. Personally, I would have been the one
trying to convince people that God does exists and that his will, will be done.
On the other hand, there are stories in this book that make me feel not so good. Make
me wonder about the will of God, and his justice. If we look at the tale of Yellow Bird, we will
see that people would be very pessimistic for a while. When Livia, the girl in the story, dreams
of the bird and the incident of her father, we can see both optimism and pessimism. At first
Livia thinks of the bird a soft gentle animal, but after her father tells her to stop touch that bird,
she quickly changes her mind and hates the bird. In her father’s eyes that was a bad sign;
maybe to him that bird represented the devil. Since that was the one of the last memories
that she has of her father, she will always think of that bird being bad.
When I read that I feel very upset, that one individual like her father has that much
influence on what she thinks in nice. If she likes that bird and likes those colors she should be
inclined to feel that way. It was his pessimism that changed her mind.
The author, Yaffa Eliach, does a great job showing some stories making you feel quilt
about yourself and other stories that make you feel really good that not everyone suffered.
However, the real reality is that most people did suffer, and to me that is what is really the
problem, even when I read of something good, it makes me feel good, but I always think there
were thousands of other people that did not make it. It’s amazing to me that the people in the
concentration camps could stay with so much optimism. I guess there cup was always half full,
what is your cup?
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