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12.5 year old asks about holocaust Why didn't they just kill
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amother




OP
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 3:52 pm
On tisha be'av my son was watching a holocaust story describing how they had absolutely no food to eat and had to work and had to live in barracks etc. and at one point he asked me why didn't they just kill themselves. What would you think about such a question and what would you answer?
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sequoia




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 3:53 pm
Because people aren’t like that.

You’re not depressed when you’re hyper focused on surviving.
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amother




Nasturtium
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 3:54 pm
Many did, unfortunately
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amother




Nemesia
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 3:54 pm
There were plenty of ppl who committed suicide during the holocaust.

But I would also be disturbed by that question coming from a 12yo.
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imaima




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 3:58 pm
amother Nemesia wrote:
There were plenty of ppl who committed suicide during the holocaust.

But I would also be disturbed by that question coming from a 12yo.


I don’t think it is strange. He is asking now because he doesn’t know what it feels like to live with less, having grown up in a peaceful time, and because he has a foresight to know what happened next.
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amother




Jetblack
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 4:00 pm
Unfortunately nowadays our kids are exposed to suicide to me it sounds normal for a 12 yr old to ask. Maybe for 9 it's young.
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amother




Blue
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 4:04 pm
Many did and many tried to but it was actually against the rules of the Nazis. They wanted everyone dead but in an organized way. If someone committed suicide by throwing themselves against the barbed wires the nazis would kill 100 people as punishment.
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amother




Nasturtium
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 4:05 pm
So true that unfortunately our children are exposed to a lot.
This can be a great teaching moment: the ones who persevered went on to rebuild klal Yisroel.
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amother




OP
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 4:08 pm
amother Nasturtium wrote:
So true that unfortunately our children are exposed to a lot.
This can be a great teaching moment: the ones who persevered went on to rebuild klal Yisroel.


Great answer - shucks that I missed the opportunity to say this. I answered like most others did on this thread that some did. Maybe I'll go back to him.

Would you be concerned that he said this?
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amother




Chicory
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 4:11 pm
Seems to me a completely normal question for that age after watching and hearing about it…

As far as an answer: depends on childs maturity level and how you talk to your kids..
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amother




Mocha
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 4:14 pm
I would tell him the reason is because Hashem Commanded us not to do that.
And validate and steer the conversation to how terribly challenging it was for them and how they were all heroes. and I would look for stories of heroic survival from a Torah perspective if he is interested in hearing more.
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HeartyAppetite




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 4:18 pm
I had the same question at his age. I was a deep thinker and couldn’t fathom how people would have the will to live under such horrible conditions.
My parents gave me a few answers:
1. It is against the Torah
2. Hashem made people with a very strong will to live, it is normal not to want to die
3. The ones who survived went in to rebuild their lives and have kids
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BrisketBoss




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 4:18 pm
amother Mocha wrote:
I would tell him the reason is because Hashem Commanded us not to do that.


And what happens when he finds out how many of them had already been very assimilated, breaking halacha left and right?
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amother




Mocha
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 4:21 pm
Would use that as a teachable moment as well. Assimilation is not good. Following the Plan Hashem Set for us is our job. People are human. Some make mistakes, some are tinok she nishba, and would focus on how fortunate we are to live in a time when he gets a good jewish education and we can do Hashem's Mitzvos in safety and freedom B"H.
And I like the answers Hearty Appetite's parents gave her.
My goal would be to answer my children's questions in a truthful way that serves them now and for the future.
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amother




Mayflower
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 5:41 pm
I heard of a rav who was niftar a few years ago who as a teen in the camps wanted to run into the electric fences and kill himself as others did, but an older rav talked him out of it.
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amother




Mocha
 

Post Mon, Aug 15 2022, 7:37 pm
Its good that your child talked to you about this and came to you with the questions.
You can think about what you want your child to learn and work back from there.
For example:
We never give up even if a sword is held to our necks.
We don't know the reason for suffering.
In our history there has been evil, think Amalek, who try to wipe us out the Jews the chosen children of G-d; however, we are still here B"H.
People kept their faith against unbelievable torment.
Ultimately good triumphs over evil.
People came out of that inferno and rebuilt lives B"H. Unbelievable strength and courage and the will to live, survive, and create Jewish families.

Keep it age appropriate and tailored to your child.
It is an ongoing conversation.
Also about how we meet adversity even small challenges we should never be tested particularly not like what was perpetrated then.
Life lessons. Chinuch. And its ok to say we don't know. And think who you and your children can go to and turn to for mentoring and life's questions.
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spikta




 
 
 
 

Post Tue, Aug 16 2022, 6:51 am
That's a fascinating question, I wouldn't be worried at all! On the contrary. It sounds like he's taking in the information, thinking about it, synthesizing it, and trying to figure out how it relates to what he already knows about life and death. I don't think you need to mourn his innocence about suicide when he's been taught about genocide and torture... it's really a very logical question.

There's no one right answer for any question pertaining to millions of people. Every person had different reasons, so you certainly didn't give him a "wrong" answer. I'm sure he could also come up with many answers, both for frum yidden, and for non frum.

Like others said, this is your chance to talk about your values. What would you like him to remember from your conversation? You could talk about the holiness of our neshamas, about mitzvos yehareg uval yaavor and listening to hashem even when it's very hard, you could talk about emunah and never loosing hope... Think about why this question bothered you so much and what the value is that you want to pass on to your son.
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amother




Mocha
 

Post Tue, Aug 16 2022, 7:34 am
Agree
Think about our history.
Throughout time there have been calmer periods punctuated with horrid intense persecution and tragedies R"L.
Channel him how to use pain productively.
Whatever his proclivities are: he can choose to learn in the memory of those lost H"YD, give tzedaka in the merit of the unnamed if you have no family lost or specific names, kids started paperclips and other educational projects and memoirs, and more. Does not have to be a huge project, can be something small. Modeling how we cope with tragedy and channel our energies toward building and illui nishmas. Empowering.
Am Yisroel Chai!
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amother




Mocha
 

Post Tue, Aug 16 2022, 7:42 am
I would also answer the question honestly and directly : we have inner strengths that we have no idea we possess to do things we would never have dreamed we are capable of
may we never be tested and may it always be from the good and higher and higher for our individual personal growth as well as for the Clal.
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amother




Mocha
 

Post Tue, Aug 16 2022, 7:44 am
Generally such a question comes from a child understandably concerned consciously or subconsciously that he would not be able to handle such a test.

While I don't know what he was watching I would make available to him examples of people who survived and went on to do great things, have huge families etc.
During challenges we do what we have to do and focus on light at the end of the tunnel b'Ezras Hashem.

Lately there have been memoirs of a grandmother survivor written with her grandson, of a grandmother survivor written with her granddaughter (The Redhead of Auschwitz), stories and pictures of survivors sitting with huge families of three generations...
people like Rav Lau, Rebbetzin Jungreis....
inspiring and humbling
Stories of hashgacho pratis and more...

I wouldn't push it but would make him aware of and material available
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