Elie Wiesel’s novel, Night, is an unsettling piece of work about his story of his father and himself struggling through the horrors of the holocaust.One of Night’s themes is the topic of religion and faith. Elie initial creates a strong religion in God, which he later questions as he sees horrible things happen to God’s people. Finally, Elie refuses to accept his religion and decides that he is the accuser and God is the accused(68). The theme of religion can be traced throughout Night as Elie embarks on a journey of faith and trial.
Religion is a regular and necessary theme in Night. It is first mentioned when Elie pursues learning about his religion with Moishe the Beadle. He studies the Talmud during the day, the Kabbalah at night (8). Moishe guides him in his studies and asks questions such as ‘Why do you pray?”(4). These questions serve as an example for Elie to follow as he questions and explores the religion. Elie and Moishe sit side by side for hours, reading over and over again, the same page of the Zohar (5). On the same page as Elie, Moishe not to learn it by heart, but to discover within the very essence of divinity (5). Elie is persuaded that Moishe can help him enter into eternity, into that time when question and answer would become one (5). In the beginning of the novel, Elie devotes himself to his studies, and his faith becomes immersed and determined.
Soon after Elie decides to study the Jewish religion, the Jews of Sighet are first transported into a ghetto, then shipped to a concentration camp. At the first concentration camp, Elie witnesses the deaths of babies and innocent people in the crematorium. When Elie first witnesses the furnaces, he writes ‘Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever…Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes'(35). The reality of the camp itself, the abuse of Jews, and the dehumanizations of himself and others around him causes him to question his faith to God . Elie stops praying, just like Job. He ‘was not denying His existence, but he doubts His absolute justice (45). The beginning of his life during the Holocaust rattles Elie’s stable beliefs.
Finally, Elie starts to reject his religion. Even the most faithful of the Jews, for example Rabbi Akiba Drummer, had lost hope that God would rescue them from their terrible fate. At the hanging of the pipel, the Jews cry out and wonder where God is. For example, Elie finds himself forming an answer, ‘Where is He? He is here, hanging from these gallows. As the Jews gather to pray, Elie only gathers his anger. Blessed be God’s name? Why, but why would I bless Him? Every fiber in me rebelled. Praised be Thy Holy Name, for having chosen us to be slaughtered on Thine altar”(67). Elie thinks God has abandoned him and others around him. Also, he used to repent for his sins at Rosh Hashanah. Elie says, ‘I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes had opened and I was alone, terribly alone in a world without God, without man'(68). Now he no longer pleads for any remorse. During Yom Kippur, Elie eats his ration of bread even though you’re are supposed to fast.. The Holocaust finally causes Elie’s strong beliefs to falter. He finds himself not acceptive of God’s silence, and fully turns his back on God, on his faith, and on his religion.
In Night, Elie Wiesel is repeatedly faced with the issue of his religion and faith. Prior to the Holocaust, the belief in a noble God encourages his studies and passion for learning. Early on in the Holocaust, he questions his faith, and takes a step back from his religion. Lastly, he gazes at the void within himself, the empty space which God no longer occupies. His final rejection of God makes him feel terrible but yet powerful. Religion and faith add a sense of the inner struggle which Elie goes through.