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(TV Mini-Series)

(1989)

Quotes

Aaron Jastrow: [in his journal, reflecting on becoming an Elder at Therezenstadt] God forgive me for not letting them kill me, but if I were to have died, what hope would there be for Natalie and Louis? And what hope is there indeed? It is now painfully evident, with this public use of my name and face, that we are at last hopelessly beyond diplomatic rescue of any kind. Since leaving Sienna, I have carried a well-concealed pouch as a last resort, containing the photocopied documents of my earlier conversion to Catholicism. My "Ace in the Hole," as it were, to save me from a bad fate as a Jew.

[He rips up the papers.]

Aaron Jastrow: But this morning, for the first time in perhaps fifty years, I put on philacteries, borrowed from a pious old man next door, and I mean to do this in all the days remaining to me on this sick and stricken Earth. Taking it all in, from that moment in my youth when I turned my back on my religion, until this morning, when I entered SS headquarters, I have spent my life on the run, but now I turn and stand. I am a Jew. Thus I answer Eichmann.

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Aaron Jastrow: My Thereseinstadt friends, I have no heart tonight for a lecture. I will put aside my professorial notes. They are neat, bloodless, and irrelevant. My topic was to be the book of Job. That's what I'll talk about, but not as a professor. As one of you: the Theresienstadt Jew. Satan said to God--do you remember?--"Natually Job is upright. seven sons, three daughters, the wealthiest man in the land of Uz. Why not be upright? See how it pays. Job is not upright. He's just a smart Jew," sneers Satan. "But take away his rewards, and see how upright he will remain." So God allows Satan to put Job through every trail but death. All his children die. All his wealth is wiped out. A horrible sickness strikes him. And so, reduced by a whim of God, to a broken, loathsome, plundered skeleton, covered with sores, Job sits on the ash heap. "Naked I came from the womb," he says. "Naked will I return. God has given. God has taken away. Blessed be God's name." Job has stood up to Satan's test. The oldest problem in human existence: senseless evil. But no comes a worse trial, a worse test. Job's comforters come. Passionately, they urge him to admit that since God is just, Job must have committed some terrible sin. "Search you deeds. Repent. Confess." But Job fights back. "I have not sinned. I will submit to the divine will, but not to pious platitudes." And so, in the depths of his most terrible hour, Job rises to stand toe-to-toe with God, and demand an answer to the great ultimate human mystery of senseless evil. "Why do you do this to me?" Well, Job gets his answer. An answer that answers nothing. God himself speaks to Job at last out of a roaring storm. "Who are you to call me to account? Can you hope to understand how or why I do anything? My universe is vast beyond human conception. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world, when the morning stars sang together, and all the suns of heaven shouted for joy? Can you comprehend the infinite mysteries of existence? You, a poor worm who lives for a few moments and dies?" An answer that answers nothing and everything. The roaring storm has declared only that God's reason is hidden, beyond Job, beyond the comforters. The universe doesn't always make sense. There is no guarantee of good fortune for good behavior. Crazy injustice is part of the enigma of the world and of our brief lives. Job humbles himself, is more than satisfied, and falls upon his face. My Thereisenstadt friends, this is the thought I would leave you with tonight. Who is it in history, who suffers ordeal after ordeal, plundering after plundering, massacre after massacre, century after century, yes looks up at the sky, sometimes with dying eyes, and cries, "The Lord our God, the Lord is one?" Who until then will leave the fearful mystery of undeserved suffering to God, and praise his name, saying, "The Lord has given. The Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord?" Nobody, my friends, but that loathesome, bereaved skeleton on the ash heap. Nobody but Job. He is the only answer, if there is one. The satanic challenge to an Almighty God. Job. The stinking Jew.

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