Faith in the Depths of Hell

Some Jews fought the Nazis with guns and sabotage; others fought by persisting in Jewish life.

This article is about Rabbi Oshry who was called upon to decide the spiritual and halachal answers that desperate but faithful Jews needed during the Nazi occupation of Kovno, Lithuania’s second-largest city.

Rabbi Oshry recorded the heart-rending questions that were brought to him in brief notes on scraps of paper, then buried the scraps in tin cans. Someday, he hoped, those scraps might be found – evidence that even in the midst of the Nazi inferno there were Jews who clung to their God and His law, refusing to abandon Him even as they must have wondered whether He had abandoned them.

Rabbi Oshry survived the Holocaust and after the war he retrieved his notes and began writing them out as full-length rabbinical rulings, or responsa. These were ultimately published in five Hebrew volumes; in 1983 a book of excerpts in English – Responsa from the Holocaust – was published by Judaica Press.

Faith in the Depths of Hell

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