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The Hidden Hand: The Holocaust

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The Hidden Hand
The Holocaust
By Yaakov Astor
The Judaica Press, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60763-013-5

Reviewed by Boris Segel - September 11, 2009

Did HaShem abandon his people during the Holocaust? Of course not, however, it can sometimes be hard to see the hashgachah (Divine Providence) in such events, let alone understand why HaShem allowed such events to occur. While we may never have the capacity to fully understand the HaShem's long-term Divine Plan and the purpose for these events, we can, through study, learn to see the Hand of HaShem in all events, both good and evil.

The Hidden Hand: The Holocaust is the second book in Yaakov Astor's Hidden Hand series that chronicles instances of hashgachah throughout history. Whereas the first book in the series, The Hidden Hand dealth with a number of instances throughout 20th century history, from the Watergate scandal to the fall of the Berlin Wall. In this new volume, Astor concentrates solely on the Holocaust and the events leading up to this horrific period in Jewish and World History. Throughout this book, Astor details what was happening to Jews during the Holocaust, and detailing instances where the presence of HaShem was keenly felt and how, in numerous 'odd' coincidences, we can see the hand of HaShem working for our benefit.

Using a Torah-centric approach to history, Astor paints a vivid picture of the events surrounding the Holocaust, and how these events impacted Orthodox (Traditional) and non-religious Jews. Sometimes the impact was the same, but more often than one might imagine, it was different, in large measure to the differing world view of the two groups, but also because non-religious Jews did not have the foundation, or the faith, to put their trust in HaShem.

On one hand, I found The Hidden Hand: The Holocaust a difficult book to read. It chronicles a period in history that I would like to ignore and to pretend it never happened - but that is impossible to do, and no matter how horrific the events, it is important for each new generation to study them, remember them, and learn from them. On the other hand, I found The Hidden Hand: The Holocaust to be an amazingly uplifting book to read. As Astor teaches, HaShem's hidden hand can be seen, but to do so, we sometimes have to look for it. Astor helped to open my eyes, and learn to see that even in something so unprecedented as the Holocaust, the presence of HaShem was felt, and can be seen and documented, if only you look close enough.

I highly recommend The Hidden Hand: The Holocaust to anyone with an interest the Holocaust, Jewish history, or the history of World War II. Despite being written from a Torah perspective, this is a book for readers, from every religion and culture, who are interested in learning how to recognize Divine Providence in the myriad of forms that it can manifest itself - as well as in studying the Holocaust from a unique perspective.

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