Haunted by the Holocaust ­ Article ­ BINA

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Haunted by the Holocaust

by Rabbi Aron Moss

Question:
 
I am a grandchild of Holocaust survivors but I feel haunted as if I went through it myself. I regularly see images of Auschwitz in dreams and flashes. I am sometimes even scared to tell people I am Jewish.It seems so ridiculous to be this way here in Australia in 2017. Am I crazy?
 
Answer:
 
You are not crazy. You are a sensitive Jewish soul, and what you are experiencing is not uncommon. You are experiencing the vertical connection.
 
All Jewish souls are connected. We are more than one family, we are one soul continuum. No matter what affiliation a Jew has or hasn't, every Jewish soul is connected. This connection transcends both time and space. We are horizontally connected to every Jew alive today, and we are vertically connected to the Jews of times gone by.
 
We have all felt the horizontal connection. When something happens to a Jew on the other side of the world, it affects me as if it happened to me personally. When a Jewish athlete wins a gold medal, every Jew walks around as if it was their own victory. And the athlete himself feels as if he has won on behalf of the entire Jewish people. When we hear news of a tragedy in Israel, or a Jewish community anywhere in the world, it hits us deeply. And the victims are uplifted by our feelings of empathy and prayers of support. This is our horizontal soul connection to all Jews alive today.
 
But we are also vertically connected to the Jews of previous generations. Like a pyramid of souls, with Abraham and Sarah, the first Jewish couple, standing at the top, each ensuing generation lying below them, and we, the souls of the present generation, at the very bottom, beneath layers and layers of souls of the past. The victories and challenges, celebrations and tragedies of those souls who came before us are on our shoulders.
 
The images that haunt you are the collective experiences of the souls which you are carrying. This is the challenge of living in our generation. It can be a heavy burden, living so soon after the worst tragedy of Jewish history, in which the lives of so many Jewish souls were cut short. It is not an easy place to be, underneath the weight of all those souls.
 
We have a choice. We can buckle under the weight of this pillar of souls, it can overwhelm us and we can collapse. It may seem to us that being Jewish is just too heavy, and we can try to relieve ourselves of its weight. Or we can take another path. We can rise to the challenge and elevate the entire pyramid of souls. For we have a gift that was taken from all those souls before us. We are alive. We live in the world of action, where we can still do good and raise ourselves spiritually. And then, from our position on the bottom of the pyramid, we can lift the entire structure and elevate the souls of those on high.
 
All previous generations are looking to us. Their time in this world has ended, but through us, their unfinished lives can be continued. By living a proud Jewish life, by creating vibrant Jewish homes and communities, by bringing more Jewish children into the world, not only can we fulfil our own purpose, but we can fulfil the hopes and dreams of those souls who never had the chance to do so themselves.
 
You are not crazy, and you are not doomed to be haunted by the images of pain that weigh you down. Let them drive you to do more good, to be more Jewish, and to continue the light of those holy souls.

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