Eliezer describes Rabbi Eliahou, an elderly rabbi from a congregation in Poland, as someone “beloved by everyone in the camp” whose face “continued to radiate his innocence” despite the tragedies unfolding around him. Although he only appears briefly in Section 6, his presence has significant thematic implications and highlights a form of innocence that particularly resonates with Eliezer. The scene in which Rabbi Eliahou appears features him frantically looking for his beloved son whom he had been separated from during the evacuation from Buna. In many ways, their relationship mirrors that of Eliezer and his father, both father-son pairs having stayed together as they moved from camp to camp. These similarities allow Eliezer to view the scene unfolding before him in particularly personal terms and understand his relationship with his father in a new way. 

Emphasizing Rabbi Eliahou’s unwavering devotion to his faith, his humanity towards others in the face of tragedy and his peaceful demeanor both position him to be a symbol of innocence, albeit a much different one than traditional connection between youth and innocence. By understanding Rabbi Eliahou in this way, Eliezer sees the roles within a father-son relationship reverse and gains a greater appreciation for his responsibility as the son to care for his father in spite of his weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Rabbi Eliahou’s desperate search highlights the enduring love a father has for his son, but it also increases the emotional stakes for both Eliezer and the reader when the rabbi’s son appears to have intentionally left his father behind to die. The contrast between Rabbi Eliahou’s love and his son’s apparent disdain drives Eliezer to pray despite his previous rejection of his faith, an act which emphasizes just how important family is to him. Rabbi Eliahou’s presence in the novel ultimately allows Eliezer to deepen and reaffirm his commitment to his father.