On May 19 1943, Moshe Flinker was engaged in a very difficult activity; one that would have been hard for anyone struggling to survive murderous persecution at the hands of Nazi Germany. The difficult activity was that he was thinking of his future. Jews in hiding as well as those in ghettos and concentration camps never knew if they would survive the day. It must have seemed like an impossible luxury to contemplate a future life of freedom and accomplishment. On the other hand, forgetting to dream for the future might have robbed people of the strength they needed to endure the weeks, months and years of struggle ahead. Moshe tried to resolve this dilemma by relying on his faith in God.
Moshe reflected on the complexities of planning for the future in his diary. He wrote, “I have written several times about a question that has been bothering me for some time; namely, what will I be when I am on my own, which I imagine will be in about five or six years. I thought at one time that I had answered this question, and that I would be a statesman, a Jewish statesman, and in that way work for my people and my God.” He went on to explain that he was doing everything he could to prepare for this future. The problem he saw, however, was that things had gotten so bad for Jews that they could only be delivered by a miracle from God. In that case, the skills he might develop as a diplomat would not be needed. That thought left him feeling depressed; that “…nearly all the positive content to my life is shown to be pointless, and I am left with almost nothing.”
Moshe was clearly struggling against feelings of hopelessness that came, in part, from his forced inactivity. That is what opened such a wide gap between his dreams for the future and his present reality. He wrote, “I now understand that ideas and thoughts are worthless if one cannot convert them into action.” It wasn’t his fault that hiding forced him into inactivity, but he suffered the consequences anyway. “So now all day long I do nothing but search for some positive content for my life, so as not to be entirely lost. In every single thing I hope to find meaning that will fill me and satisfy me, but it is as if I heard a voice inside me always saying: ‘You are deceiving yourself if you think this is of value for you; it can at best fill only part of your spiritual void.” He concluded that “…I am lost and seek in vain, for meaning, for control, for purpose. But so far I have found nothing.” For Moshe, these depressing moments caused him to look back to God. He ended his entry on May 19th with a prayer, “… I ask that the Lord take pity on me and bestow on me His lovingkindness and that His holy spirit fill me that I might live again.” That was Moshe’s most eloquent statement of faith in his future.
You may read excerpts from Moshe’s diary in Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust by Alexandra Zapruder.
An article from the Yad Vashem website will help you to learn more about Moshe’s views on religion, especially how he interpreted the suffering of the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis.
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