The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.
Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.
Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.
I still believe in man in spite of man. I believe in language even though it has been wounded, deformed, and perverted by the enemies of mankind. And I continue to cling to words because it is up to us to transform them into instruments of comprehension rather than contempt. It is up to us to choose whether we wish to use them to curse or to heal, to wound or to console.
Even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion. That it is possible to feel free inside a prison. That even in exile, friendship exists and can become an anchor. That one instant before dying, man is still immortal.
My faceless neighbor spoke up:“Don’t be deluded. Hitler has made it clear that he will annihilate all Jews before the clock strikes twelve.”I exploded:“What do you care what he said? Would you want us to consider him a prophet?His cold eyes stared at me. At last he said, wearily:“I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.
There's a long road of suffering ahead of you. But don't lose courage. You've already escaped the gravest danger: selection. So now, muster your strength, and don't lose heart. We shall all see the day of liberation. Have faith in life. Above all else, have faith. Drive out despair, and you will keep death away from yourselves. Hell is not for eternity. And now, a prayer - or rather, a piece of advice: let there be comradeship among you. We are all brothers, and we are all suffering the same fate. The same smoke floats over all our heads. Help one another. It is the only way to survive.
In the beginning there was faith - which is childish, trust - which is vain, and illusion - which is dangerous.
Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.Never shall I forget that smoke.Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.Never.
A disciple came to the celebrated Master of the Good Name with a question. “Rabbi, how are we to distinguish between a true master and a fake?” And the master of the good name said, “When you meet a person who poses as a master, ask him a question: whether he knows how to purify your thoughts. If he says that he knows, then he is a fake.
We must choose between the violence of adults and the smiles of children, between the ugliness of hate and the will to oppose it. Between inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves. Or not.
We are all brothers and we are all suffering the same fate. The same smoke floats over all our heads. Help one another. It is the only way to survive. (pg. 39)
What is the difference between Jew and Christians? We all await the Messiah. You believe He has already come and gone, while we do not. I therefore propose that we await Him together. And when He appears, we can ask Him: were You here before?
In the beginning there was faith-which is childish; trust-which is vain; and illusion-which is dangerous.We believed in God; trusted in man, and lived with the illusion that every one of us has been entrusted with a sacred spark from the Shekhinah's flame; that every one of us carries in his eyes and in his soul a reflection of God's image.THAT was the source if not the cause of all our ordeals.
I had many things to say, I did not have the words to say them. Painfully aware of my limitations, I watched helplessly and language became an obstacle. It became clear that it would be necessary to invent a new language... I would pause at every sentence, and start over and over again. I would conjure up other verbs, other images, other silent cries. It still was not right. But what exactly was “it”? “It” was something elusive, darkly shrouded for fear of being usurped, profaned. All the dictionary had to offer seemed meager, pale, lifeless.
We believed in God, trusted in man, and lived with the illusion that every one of us has been entrusted with a sacred spark.
I no longer ask You for either happiness or paradise; all I ask of You is to listen and let me be aware and worthy of Your listening. I no longer ask You to resolve my questions, only to receive them and make them part of You. I no longer ask You for either rest or wisdom, I only ask You not to close me to gratitude, be it of the most trivial kind, or to surprise and friendship. Love? Love is not Yours to give.As for my enemies, I do not ask You to punish them or even to enlighten them; I only ask You not to lend them Your mask and Your powers. If You must relinquish one or the other, give them Your powers, but not Your countenance.They are modest, my prayers, and humble. I ask You what I might ask a stranger met by chance at twilight in a barren land. I ask You, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to enable me to pronounce these words without betraying the child that transmitted them to me. God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, enable me to forgive You and enable the child I once was to forgive me too. I no longer ask You for the life of that child, nor even for his faith. I only implore You to listen to him and act in such a way that You and I can listen to him together
If I had spoken to him out loud, he would have understood the tragic fate of those who came back, left over, living dead. You must look at them carefully. Their appearance is deceptive. They are smugglers. They look like the others. They eat, they laugh, they love. The seek money, fame, love. Like the other. But it isn't true; they are playing, sometimes without even knowing it. Anyone who has seen what THEY have seen cannot be like the others, cannot laugh, love, pray, bargain, suffer, have fun, or forget. Like the others. You have to watch them carefully when they pass by an innocent-looking smokestack, or when they lift a piece of bread to their mouths. Something in them shudders and makes you turn your eyes away. These people have been amputated; they haven't lost their legs or eyes, but their will and their taste for life. The things they have seen will come to the surface again sooner or later. And then the world will be frightened and won't dare look these spiritual cripples in the eye.
Sometimes I am asked if I know the response to Auschwitz; I answer that not only do I not know it, but that I don't even know if a tragedy of this magnitude HAS a response. What I do know is that there is response in responsibility. When we speak of this era of evil and darkness, so close and yet so distant, responsibility is the key word,The witness has forced himself to testify. For the youth of today, for the children who will be born tomorrow. He does not want his past to become their future.
A mn ages hs enemy because he hates his own hate. He says to himself: I hate him not because he's my enemy, not because he hates me, but because he arouses me to hate.
The stars were only sparks of the fire which devoured us. Should that fire die out one day, there would be nothing left in the sky but dead stars, dead eyes.
At the time of the liberation of the camps, I remember, we were convinced that after Auschwitz there would be no more wars, no more racism, no more hatred, no more anti-Semitism. We were wrong. This produced a feeling close to despair. For if Auschwitz could not cure mankind of racism, was there any chance of success ever? The fact is, the world has learned nothing. Otherwise, how is one to comprehend the atrocities committed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia…
We have to go into the despair and go beyond it, by working and doing for somebody else, by using it for something else.
Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
We were masters of nature, masters of the world. We had forgotten everything--death, fatigue, our natural needs. Stronger than cold or hunger, stronger than the shots and the desire to die, condemned and wandering, mere numbers, we were the only men on earth.
One day I was able to get up, after gathering all my strength. I wanted to see myself in the mirror hanging on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.