Rembrandt reminds us that if we want to really live we must show flawless integrity and demonstrate great authenticity. It is all about making a genuine contribution to the world, with no regard for gain, and even being prepared to pay the price of one’s rank and position in the conventional community. A person must make sure that he can look himself in the mirror at the end of his life and say, I lived my life; it did not just pass me by.
Rabbi Yochanan taught us that Jews can survive without Israel, as long as there is Torah, the portable homeland of the Jewish people. But Jews will not survive solely because of the existence of Israel—however powerful it may be—if Israel does not incorporate a large percentage of Jewish traditional resources.
It is difficult to argue that the Holocaust was caused by divine anger for the violations of Torah precepts and deliberate heresy. The curses in the Torah are meant to come down on those who, against better judgment, and with the full understanding that they are violating God’s will, decide to do so; but not on those who are confused by or are the victims of others’ misunderstandings.
For some years now there has been a major debate among religious thinkers if the Holocaust should be seen as a divine punishment. Pointing to the Torah’s warnings (Vayikra 26, Devarim 28) that the divine curses would come true if a widespread violation of the laws of the Torah would occur, some thinkers maintain that the Holocaust is clearly the result of the Jewish people transgressing the laws of the Torah.