“Why do you pray?”
It was a question that stopped Elie Wiesel. I was a question, that knocked him free from security and sent him tumbling down a dark road. That one question, combined with the events that he would face in the upcoming years, would cause Wiesel’s faith to be stretched to the limit. Throughout the novel Night, we see Wiesel not only lose his family and everything dear to him, but also his belief in a kind and loving god he had never even thought to doubt.
But what was Wiesel’s purpose in retelling these events? A reader might interpret his words as a warning against faith in a god. But Wiesel has stated that he still does not doubt god, but describes his new relationship with god as one of “questioning”. And perhaps questioning was Elie Wiesel’s true motive behind retelling his story. Throughout the novel, we see examples of those in Hitler’s service: herding the Jews like cattle, and mindlessly tossing infant into the fires. But why did they do this? While it may be comforting to think of these people as soulless creatures, the truth is that most of them were human, with feelings and emotion. But, they chose to blindly follow a leader, without questioning. This is what Wiesel was arguing against. But had he tried to convey this message using the Nazis as examples, the message would have been ineffective. Most people would consider themselves nothing like the Nazis and see no reason to be wary of something that only people like the Nazis would be vulnerable to.
“I have more faith in Hitler…He alone has kept his promises…to the Jewish people”
When the Jews continued to believe in a God who promised of a better future, even after so much pain, one can see how easy it would have been for the Germans to believe in Hitler when he was making good on his promises of expanding and rebuilding Germany. By using his own gradual loss of faith as an example, Wiesel is able to send a clear message that relates to the reader and perhaps to avoid a repeat of the horrors of history
“To Follow by faith alone is to follow blindly.”