Moshe Flinker was a deeply religious young man. He was only sixteen years-old when he began keeping his diary, but saw himself as part of an ancient people that was coming to a pivotal moment in its history. For this reason, he interpreted the persecution of Jews by the Nazis as leading toward the moment of divine deliverance from exile. Moshe’s diary describes specific events that he and his family experienced in Holland and Belgium, but also his understanding of these events from a religious perspective. From his perspective, the main challenge was not to look for hope in Allied victories on the battlefield, but rather to place unconditional trust in God to deliver.
Moshe was very critical of every shortcoming he perceived in himself. If he allowed himself to feel grateful for momentarily safety, he quickly reminded himself of the suffering of other Jews. When he imagined a possible future as a Jewish diplomat in a new Israel, he rejected any path to redemption that might come through secular means, such as diplomacy. It is not surprising that he frequently experienced discouragement. On June 17 1943, he seemed to reach a low point. He wrote, “Everything is in a state of decline, I feel as if I am descending lower and lower. I have promised myself that next week I shall make a complete, radical repentance. I hope and pray that God will help me and have mercy on His people and on me. Perhaps He will change everything for the better, and every descent will serve only to accentuate the ascent.” Even though he seemed to be coming around to a more positive view, Moshe ended his entry by writing, “At the same time, I am not yet ready to be saved and I seem to decline further and further. Perhaps the Lord will have pity on me and assist me. Have mercy, O Lord, and pity Thy faithful servant.”
Moshe never surrendered his faith in God’s coming deliverance of the Jewish people. In spite of this, he freely expressed doubt in himself and mourning for his people. His diary stands as a fine example of an intense religious response to persecution; one that sought not only to condemn the persecutors, but also to find spiritual meaning for the oppressed.
Excerpts from Moshe Flinker’s diary have been published in a book entitled, by Alexandra Zapruder.
Moshe’s adherence to his religious beliefs was a type of resistance to the Nazis. You may read more about Jewish spiritual resistance in other places here.
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March 18, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Religion 201: Interfaith Relations with representatives of Islam, Buddhism, & Baha’i…
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