I just received this photo in an email. The text says it was taken in Germany by James Emison Chanslor, an Army Master Sergeant who served in WWII from 1942 until 1956. The source is named as John Michael Chanslor, perhaps the photographer's son.
I chose this particular photograph because, though it may have been simply happenstance, the small child's arm is over the baby. Perhaps it is a bit of human sweetness in the otherwise unspeakable darkness.
Tonight begins Yom HaShoah v'HaGvurah... Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day. I don't want to take anything away from any survivor or child of survivor, but this year the day feels especially awkward to me and I am full of questions.
I know less than a handful of people who warn of another, coming Holocaust. Even as we see pictures in the New York Times of Ahmadinejad waving a victory sign from the nuclear site at Natanz in Iran, most people - and I do mean MOST people - can't stand to hear that another Holocaust is possible, in our time... if not sooner.
If we cannot prevent the next Holocaust, if people refuse to even consider that very real possibility, what good is commemorating the last one?
See, I told you, I am full of questions.
Vv 11ff: Bildad explains this received wisdom through the metaphor of the reed grass and rushes, which expresses the evanescence of the success of the wicked. As long as the reeds and rushes have an abundant supply of water they flourish, but as soon as the water disappears they dry up and wither. Similarly the wicked flourish as long as the hour "laughs" at them, but as soon as their measure is complete, the success in which they trusted turns out to be as flimsy as a spider's web.
There is a difference in the way vv 16-19 are explained by Rashi and Ramban on the one hand as opposed to the way they are explained by Metzudas David on the other.
Rashi and Ramban explain vv 16-19 as a continuation of the metaphor of the reed grass and rushes. No matter how extensively their roots may spread, as soon as they are consumed they disappear for ever and it is as if they had never been in the place where they grew.
However according to Metzudas David's interpretation, vv 16-19 contain a second metaphor expressing how the righteous endure and are regenerated, as opposed to the wicked who were compared to the reed grass that quickly dries up and disappears. Thus Metzudas David interprets v 16 as referring to a mighty tree that remains moist even when it stands in the sun, and its branches spread over the whole garden where it is planted. Its extensive roots reach down to deep deposits of water. Metzudas David explains vv 17-18 as saying that such a tree is so strong that even if it is transplanted so that it is as if it never existed in its
first place, even so, it has the power to regenerate itself and grow even better in the new place to which it is transplanted.
According to Metzudas David, the metaphor comes to teach that even the trouble that strikes the righteous, who are compared to a mighty tree with extensive roots, is actually for their benefit because since the tree is intrinsically strong. Even when it is transplanted elsewhere, it still has the power to grow and flourish. Likewise even when the Tzaddikim are "transplanted" into a life of suffering, it can still be turned to their advantage even though we cannot know how this is so because of the limitations of human understanding.