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Moishe the Beadle is the first character introduced in Night, and
his values resonate throughout the text, even though he himself
disappears after the first few pages. Moishe represents, first and
foremost, an earnest commitment to Judaism, and to Jewish mysticism
in particular. As Eliezer’s Cabbala teacher, Moishe talks about the
riddles of the universe and God’s centrality to the quest for understanding. Moishe’s
words frame the conflict of Eliezer’s struggle for faith, which
is at the center of Night.
In his statement “I pray to the God within me that He
will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions,” Moishe
conveys two concepts key to Eliezer’s struggle: the idea that God
is everywhere, even within every individual, and the idea that faith
is based on questions, not answers. Eliezer’s struggle
with faith is, for the most part, a struggle of questions. He continually
asks where God has gone and questions how such evil could exist
in the world. Moishe’s statement tells us that these moments do not
reflect Eliezer’s loss of faith; instead they demonstrate his ongoing
spiritual commitment. But we also see that at the lowest points
of Eliezer’s faith—particularly when he sees the pipel (a
youth) hung in Buna—he is full of answers, not
questions. At these moments, he has indeed lost the spirit of faith
he learned from Moishe, and is truly faithless.
Finally, Moishe may also serve as a stand-in for Wiesel
himself, as his presence evokes an overarching purpose of the entire
work. As has been stated previously, Night can
be read as an attack against silence. So many times in the work,
evil is perpetuated by a silent lack of resistance or—as in the
case of Moishe’s warnings—by ignoring reports of evil. With Night, Wiesel,
like Moishe, bears witness to tragedy in order to warn others, to
prevent anything like the Holocaust from ever happening again.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Night!