The Nazis are known as the most vile and loathsome evil of living memory. It is thus particularly appalling when, to make a point, Jews apply this imagery to other people, let alone to other Jews.
Protesting the IDF draft toward Yeshiva students is one thing, but using Nazi imagery to make the point is not only a violation of sensibilities, but, in all probability, a violation of halacha as well.
The fact that this was done a second time recently, and in front of the Toldos Aharon Rebbe yet a second time, makes it necessary to voice how appalling it is.
There are no less than three issues as to how very wrong this is.
HURTFUL TO SURVIVORS
When a holocaust survivor sees these horrible pictures of children in concentration camp uniforms, it is a very serious violation of Onaah. It causes the survivor pain and anguish. This is a violation of the verse in Vayikra, “velo sonu Ish es amiso – (VaYikra 25:17).”
The Mitzvah is generally called “Onaas Dvarim” or just plain “Onaah.”The Sfas Emes explains that the main reason behind this Mitzvah is so that we will all have a sense of complete oneness as a people. Causing another pain was prohibited because it causes division within us as a people. This is Onaah to the thousands of survivors.
DEBASES THE MEMORY OF THE MARTYRS
The second issue is the fact that it truly debases the memories of the Kedoshim killed al kidush Hashem in the concentration camps of the Nazis yimach sh’mam. It cheapens the deaths of those that have passed on in the holocaust – the shochenei afar.
Those who perished in the holocaust are considered kedoshim martyrs. They died al Kiddush Hashem – because they were part of Hashem’s nation. Debasing their memory is a horrific aveirah.
LABELING SOMEONE IMPROPERLY
The third issue is the fact that the use of such imagery essentially places the label of “Nazi” on fellow Jews. The Gemorah in Kiddushin (28a) discusses the vile nature of three things:
• Calling someone an “eved.”
• Labelling another with the term “Mamzer.”
• Someone who labels another with the term “Rasha.”
Here, with the labelling of fellow Jews as the most evil of Rashaim that there are – a new boundary has been crossed far beyond the discussion in the Gemorah.
Some explain this that for such a person it is permitted to a] hate him b] enter into competition with his business and c] reduce his income by 1/3rd (see Rashi).
Furthermore, one who applies to another a negative appellation is counted among those who go down to Gehenam and do not arise (See Bava Metziah 58b).
Everyone is entitled to their own views. But we must exercise extreme caution to make sure that when making a point, Torah violations should not be stepped upon. The use of this imagery is in horrible taste and underscores a terrible insensitivity both to halacha and to others.
Those who are responsible for this should apologize for these three violations and look to protest in some other way.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org