A Literary Sophie’s Choice: A Ten Commandments’ Tale

in a dark moment in history, a literary “sophie’s choice” may have been made.

“sophie’s choice” is essentially the impossible choice.

the term sophie’s choice comes from the fiction book of the same name. in william styron’s 1979 novel a mother, in a nazi concentration camp, must decide between her children: which one will live and which one would die. state.com

a recent news account reveals that in 1938, another sophie’s choice may have occurred. it was a literary sophie’s choice involving a torah.

the jta reports that “a german protestant minister has handed over segments of a long lost torah scroll to the city of görlitz in southeast germany, 83 years after his father, a town policeman, came into possession of them.” jta these fragments most likely were created at the time of kristallnacht.

kristallnacht also known as the night of the broken glass, occurred november 9th though 10th in 1938. on those days, the nazi party’s paramilitary force along with civilians participated. 91 jews were killed and approximately 7,500 jewish businesses, homes and school were destroyed. the precipitating event was a 17 year old polish jew who assasinated a german foreign official. the 17 year old was distraught over the deportation of his family from germany. www.ushmm.org

while kristallnacht was occurring, an unknown individual apparently went into a synagogue perhaps to save a torah. it is likely that they did not believe that they could save an entire torah. so, they made a literary “sophie’s choice.” four fragments were removed and taken. the reporting notes that it was apparent that the individual doing so had knowledge of the torah. there were specific portions that were saved. the article identifies two. jta

thus, for the purposes of an intellectual and moral exercise, the question presented is, if you were in that situation, what four torah segments would you have saved?

some may wish to save stories, others may wish to save geneologies, and still others may may wish to save laws.

with respect to the kristallnacht torah, two of the four fragments saved have been identified. one is creation story and the other is the ten commandments.

thus, this story gives pause for those who wish to discuss and debate. this topic is one suitable for all age groups with torah knowledge. this subject is one for each participant to offer up their suggestions and reasoning. the question being, if you were forced to do so, “what four segments of the torah would you save?”

the two fragments revealed were great choices. what could they other two be? there are many other important sections that could be saved: the story of cain and abel, the binding of isaac, the golden calf, the song of the sea, the laws in kedoshim, and the shema or hear o’ israel.

in sum, for any teacher who offers up this topic to their class, let us know the results.

be well!!

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Published by biblelifestudies

I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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