Isaac Balbin writes:
It is so obvious why "The Chofetz Chaim, Lubavitcher Rebbe, Munkatcher Rebbe, Belzer Rebbe, Elchonon Wasserman, Satmar Rebbe, et al, did not predict [the Holocaust]." It is a combination of…
…Hester Ponim and Emuna that Hakadosh Baruch Hu would never allow such a thing to happen. For this they should be condemned? You think modern day Daas Torah truly means infallibility? Come now. When all is said and done, we all recognise human frailty and Gdly intractability.
You build straw men to shoot down and then spifflicate vile. The Chafetz Chaim had an incredibly close relationship with Rav Kook, you know the ultra zionist Rav Kook. Guess who wrote the Haskomo to Chafetz Chaim?
If you really need to kick something, get yourself a plastic duck ... spew your bilious venom into a strong wind ... or perhaps some camomile tea ...
Let's take these points in order:
Predicting the Holocaust
1. History of Anti-Jewish Violence in the Russian Empire:
The term "pogrom" became commonly used in English after a large-scale wave of anti-Jewish riots swept through south-western Imperial Russia in 1881–1884.
The trigger for these pogroms was the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, for which some blamed "the Jews." The extent to which the Russian press was responsible for encouraging perceptions of the assassination as a Jewish act has been disputed. Local economic conditions are thought to have contributed significantly to the rioting, especially with regard to the participation of the business competitors of local Jews and the participation of railroad workers, and it has been argued that this was actually more important than rumours of Jewish responsibility for the death of the Tsar. These rumours, however, were clearly of some importance, if only as a trigger, and they had a small kernel of truth: one of the close associates of the assassins, Gesya Gelfman, was indeed Jewish. The fact that the other assassins were all Christians had little impact on the spread of such antisemitic rumours.
During these pogroms, which started in Elizavetgrad (Kirovograd, Ukraine) in April of 1881, thousands of Jewish homes were destroyed, and many families were reduced to poverty; and large numbers of men, women, and children were injured in 166 towns in the southwest provinces of the Empire such as the Ukraine). The new Tsar Alexander III initially blamed revolutionaries and the Jews themselves for the riots and issued a series of harsh restrictions on Jews. The pogroms continued for more than three years, and were thought to have benefited from at least the tacit support of the authorities, though there were also attempts on the part of the Russian government to end the rioting.Although the pogroms claimed the lives of relatively few Jews (two Jews were killed by the mobs, while 19 attackers were killed by tsarist authorities, the damage, disruption and disturbance were dramatic. The pogroms and the official reaction to them led many Russian Jews to reassess their perceptions of their status within the Russian Empire, and so to significant Jewish emigration, mostly to the United States. These pogroms were referred to among Jews as the 'storms in the negev', negev being a Biblical word for the south. Changed perceptions among Russian Jews also indirectly gave a significant boost to the early Zionist movement.
A much bloodier wave of pogroms broke out in 1903–1906, leaving an estimated 2,000 Jews dead, and many more wounded, as the Jews took to arms to defend their families and property from the attackers. The number of people of other nationalities killed or wounded in these pogroms exceeds Jewish casualties. The New York Times described the First Kishinev pogrom of Easter, 1903:
"The anti-Jewish riots in Kishinev, Bessarabia (modern Moldova), are worse than the censor will permit to publish. There was a well laid-out plan for the general massacre of Jews on the day following the Orthodox Easter. The mob was led by priests, and the general cry, "Kill the Jews," was taken up all over the city. The Jews were taken wholly unaware and were slaughtered like sheep. The dead number 120 [Note: the actual number of dead was 47–48] and the injured about 500. The scenes of horror attending this massacre are beyond description. Babies were literally torn to pieces by the frenzied and bloodthirsty mob. The local police made no attempt to check the reign of terror. At sunset the streets were piled with corpses and wounded. Those who could make their escape fled in terror, and the city is now practically deserted of Jews."
Some historians believe that some of the pogroms had been organized or supported by the Tsarist Russian secret police, the Okhrana. Such facts as the alleged indifference of the Russian police and army were duly noted, for instance, during the three-day First Kishinev pogrom of 1903, as well as the preceding publication of articles in newspapers inciting anti-Jewish violence, suggesting to some that pogroms were in line with the internal policy of Imperial Russia. Niall Ferguson, however, suggests in his recent book "War of the World" that it was real or alleged Jewish involvement in contemporary left-wing politics that brought on the 'waves' of violence against the aforementioned southern areas of the Pale. There is also evidence which suggests that the police knew in advance about some pogroms, and chose not to act. The most violently antisemitic movement during this period was the Black Hundred, which actively participated in the pogroms.
Even outside of these main outbreaks, pogroms remained common—there were anti-Jewish riots in Odessa in 1859, 1871, 1881, 1886 and 1905 in which hundreds were killed in total.
During the Revolution and the Civil Wars in Russia
Many pogroms accompanied the Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing Russian Civil War, an estimated 70,000 to 250,000 civilian Jews were killed in the atrocities throughout the former Russian Empire; the number of Jewish orphans exceeded 300,000. In his book 200 Years Together, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn provides the following numbers from Nahum Gergel's 1951 study of the pogroms in the Ukraine: out of an estimated 887 mass pogroms, about 40% were perpetrated by the Ukrainian forces led by Symon Petliura, 25% by the Ukrainian Green Army and various Ukrainian nationalist gangs, 17% by the White Army, especially the forces of Anton Denikin, and 8.5% by the Red Army.
2. Anti-Jewish laws and increased antisemitism were prevalent throughout much of non-Soviet Eastern Europe in the 1930s.
3. At the same time, Soviet communism had already destroyed almost all Jewish religious life in the Soviet Union.
4. Hitler's rise to power was closely chronicled by Eastern European newspapers, including newspapers in Poland, Russia, Hungary, Romania and Lithuania. Mein Kampf was first published in 1925 and 1926, and was widely available before the Chofetz Chaim's death.
5. Predicting the Holocaust as opposed to predicting a bleak future for Jews in Europe is itself a straw man argument.
No one needed to predict gas chambers and highly efficient means of killing large numbers of Jews.
All anyone needed to do is to predict large scale pogroms, increased antisemitism and Hitler's rise to power.
Jabotinsky did this successfully. So did others, including a young Rudolph Kasztner.
Sadly, leading haredi rabbis did not foresee these things – or they willfully chose to have Jews stay in Europe rather than emigrate because they placed Jews' spiritual lives ahead of Jews' physical existence.
The Meaning of Da'as Torah
1. Da'as Torah means you must follow rabbis even though they are wrong and you must treat rabbis as if they were infallible.
2. If the outcome of doing so appears to make the rabbis look bad– perhaps most of your family were murdered by the Nazis instead of living freely in Israel or the US – you must ascribe that seeming failure in Da'as Torah to God's will. God wanted these Jews to die (for reasons we cannot fully explain). The rabbis did God's will. The outcome – the deaths of 6 million Jews – was not what they wanted and not what they foresaw, but it was God's will nonetheless, achieved in part through Da'as Torah.
In other words, Da'as Torah can never actually be wrong, even if the outcome of Da'as Torah is wholly bad.
3. This is a form of arguing from a predetermined conclusion. The conclusion – in this case, Da'as Torah is real and good – can never change. Only the explanation for its failures can change.
Haredim and Historical Context
"The Chafetz Chaim had an incredibly close relationship with Rav Kook, you know the ultra zionist Rav Kook. Guess who wrote the Haskomo to [Sefer] Chafetz Chaim?"
Sefer Chofetz Chaim was published in 1873. Approbations (haskamot) were gathered in 1872.
Rav Kook was 7 years old in 1872.
This is a clear example of the problem with haredi education. History is not taught. Logic and reasoning are not taught. The context of events mentioned in Jewish sources is not taught. So a 7 year old (not yet rabbi) Kook 'endorses' the Chofetz Chaim's eponymous book.