Posted by Godefroi on May 1, 2008
by Rabbi Yehudah Prero [excerpted from here]
Shoah is the Hebrew word for “whirlwind.” It is the term used to described the conflagration that swept up six million Jewish souls between 1938 and 1945. A war was waged against the Jews in which unspeakable atrocities were perpetrated against a defenseless people. Men and women, young and old alike, were butchered at the hands of the accursed Nazis, may their name be eradicated for all time. Every year, on Yom HaShoah, we remember the martyrs who sanctified the name of G-d in the camps, the ghettos, and in the gas chambers.
However, we find that many Rabbis, survivers [sic] of the Holocaust, do not refer to it as the “Shoah”. Rather, they use the term “Churban Europa.” In fact, they commemorate the destruction not on Yom HaShoah, but rather on Tisha B’Av, the Ninth of Av. Why do they do this?
While Hitler may have been the last great anti-Semite to plot to destroy us, he was hardly the first. As we read each Purim, Haman actually came just as close to genocide, but through a series of miracles no mass murder took place. Over the intervening millenia, thousands and millions have perished during two conquests of Israel and the destruction of two Holy Temples, the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Chmielnicki Cossack Pogroms – a series of one destruction (Churban) after another that have befallen the Jewish people.
Therefore it is important that we recognize that events over the last 2000 years, though much further from our recollection, are just as much a part of the tragic element of Jewish history. When the Second Temple was destroyed, only swords were available – those who wished to murder us did not have modern tools of mass destruction at their disposal – and yet they still killed hundreds of thousands. In addition, that destruction reduced us from a sovereign nation to a scattered and lonely people, setting the stage for the other tragedies that followed. We still await restoration of a rebuilt Jerusalem, the City of Peace, may it come speedily in our days. None of this reduces the mind-bending tragedy of 50 years ago – but nor should we be guilty of forgetting those other tragedies that came before.
May the merits of six million martyrs rise before G-d, and may their merits – and those of the survivors – succeed in bringing an end to our long dispersion. May we see the building of the Third Temple, speedily in our days, Amen.