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Night

by: Elie Wiesel

Moshe the Beadle

Moshe 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. Moshe represents, first and foremost, an earnest commitment to Judaism, and to Jewish mysticism in particular. As Eliezer’s Cabbala teacher, Moshe talks about the riddles of the universe and God’s centrality to the quest for understanding. Moshe’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,” Moshe 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. Moshe’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 Moshe, and is truly faithless.

Finally, Moshe 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 Moshe’s warnings—by ignoring reports of evil. With Night, Wiesel, like Moshe, bears witness to tragedy in order to warn others, to prevent anything like the Holocaust from ever happening again.