If you haven't already, it's important to read the preface at the beginning of the previous post there before continuing with this post.
To Register or Not?
Many Jews did so automatically.
After all, an alternative never occurred to them, both because they felt compelled to automatically follow the oppressive Nazi orders & because of the difficulty—or even impossibility—of obtaining food without the ration cards.
(Another aspect of the Holocaust many misunderstand is what stress & lack of food—combined with harsh physical labor for many—to do one's physiology by inducing lethargy, which makes it hard to think or function. In other words, if you have a full stomach, you probably don't get it.)
Yet some Jews hesitated.
They realized registration could mean death.
Once on the Nazi list, the Nazis knew to come after them.
Also, horrific consequences sometimes followed when the Nazis realized someone was missing.
But if the missing person wasn't on the list, then the Nazis would never know.
After intense deliberation, some felt they could not obtain food any other way, so they registered.
Yet others tried not to register.
Some exhorted their friends & relatives to avoid registering, insisting it would bring sure death.
Despite that pressure—and the very real danger of being registered—many simply could not afford to pass on the food ration cards.
Who was right?
For most Jews in that situation, both decisions brought death.
Again, as with the yellow star, an objectively "correct" decision did not exist.
So much depended on one's individual circumstances and mazal (Divinely orchestrated "luck").
In addition, both the external circumstances & each person's individual circumstances kept changing.
Whatever one chose to do, the results were never certain.
Story #1: Refused to Register
As Leichu recalls in her memoir, A Daughter of Two Mothers: "Mama decided nothing good could come of registering. Indeed, because we weren't registered, we didn't receive food ration cards. But Mama claimed that she was registered with our Father in Heaven, and He would take care of our sustenance."
In contrast, Leichu's mother insisted on Leichu sewing the yellow star onto her coat even before the official date, refusing to allow Leichu out of the house until she did it.
Because the Nazi soldiers were trigger-happy, Leichu's mother feared they might shoot a Jew without a yellow star even before the date of its official legalization.
And it seems that both Leichu & her mother shared a Jewish "look," which meant they couldn't get away with not wearing the yellow star.
So again, we see the terrible cheshbonot Jews needed to make—life-and-death decisions—each based on one's individual factors and subject to uncertainty regardless of how wisely one analyzed the factors.
Neither Leichu nor her mother seemed to suffer from wearing the yellow star (though they also avoided going out much).
Did wearing the yellow star save them from being immediately deported or shot?
Yes, it seems so. They were obviously Jewish, so not wearing the yellow star would bring them dangerous attention.
Did not registering save them?
The night before the deportation of Vinograd's Jews to a ghetto, a Roma/Gypsy woman knocked on the door to invite Leichu and her mother to escape with the Roma couple into the Carpathian mountains.
(The Roma woman, Leichu, and Leichu's mother all knew & liked each other from before.)
Leichu's mother, claiming she could not pose as a Roma woman, insisted that Leichu should go with the Roma couple; Leichu could pose as their daughter (especially since Leichu had mastered the Roma language).
Due to an infection from a splinter before antibiotics, Leichu's mother suffered an amputation just below her right elbow, something she worried would also interfere with their escape & hiding.
So at her mother's insistence, Leichu went with the Roma couple and survived while her mother entered the ghetto, then perished in the terrible conditions of the boxcars on the way to Auschwitz.
Because Leichu hadn't registered, did that stop the Nazis from hunting her or from harassing her mother when they came to deport her mother (i.e., if they'd registered, the Nazis could have said, "We have 2 people registered here—where is the other?")?
We'll never know, but it's possible.
The point is that many decisions needed to be made and while many people went along with the orders (because they had no other choice), others deliberated, and even exhorted, "No, THIS is the right decision! THIS will help; THAT will kill!"
And sometimes, they ended up being right.
And sometimes not.
Either way they decided & regardless of where their fate lay in the end, it wasn't their fault because of the unknown factors affecting each person's mazal.
Story #2: Initially Refused to Register; Did Not Register Entire Family
In other words, his deliberations concluded that registration seemed more dangerous than not.
However, as the situation worsened, the ghetto Judenrat convinced him that registering was more helpful than not.
Without registration, he could not receive food rations or a place to live.
Until that point, they survived mostly on Rachel's begging & obtaining food in other ways. They lived in abandoned cellars.
(Rachel was around 12 or 13 at this time.)
So her father registered, but this did not save him. In fact, it seems that as things deteriorated, survival was not possible for him either way.
For him, not registering did not help.
But registering did not help either.
His decisions were logical hishtadlut—but never the determining factor.
However, it appears that Rachel never registered.
She survived by escaping the ghetto and living with a non-Jewish family until the end of the war.
Did avoiding registration save Rachel?
It seems it contributed to her survival. It kept her name off the Nazi lists, so they weren't looking for her specifically.
But she nearly died several times, both before the ghetto and after.
So not registering was far from THE reason she survived.
So once again, we see how these decisions played a part in survival, but did not determine survival.
While Hashem remained hidden during this horrific time, He also remained intimately involved in less revealed ways, which is why—even in the most horrific & heartbreaking accounts—you see miracles in every survivor's story.
The Light of Mashiach: Unpredictability Encourages Reliance on Hashem
As Rav Itamar Schwartz notes, the light of Keter started being revealed way back in the time of the Baal Shem Tov.
More recently we've entered the dimension of reisha d'lo etyada (the Unknowable Beginning/Head—meaning, the height of unpredictability—an idea also from Rav Schwartz).
Things will continue to become less reliable.
This comprises part of Mashiach because the entire Geula will occur with unpredictability.
Despite how stressful it is, this same unpredictability encourages us to rely on Hashem as it becomes increasingly clear we cannot rely on anything else.
Just one example:
A light will be unsheathed that will burn the undeserving while nurturing the deserving—much the same way how the same sunlight hardens eggs yet softens ice, or how the same sunlight whitens cloth yet darkens skin.
People who feel sure they're worthy will discover they aren't, while those unsure of their worthiness might discover they are.
It's the same light, but induces a vastly different effect on each one, all depending on the individual characteristics inside.
Unpredictable. The unknowable.
Because of this, it's vitally important to focus on the deeper messages & our own inner avodah, even as we must practically deal with the very real events going on around us.
For more about this Keter d'reisha d'lo etyada phase:
For more about dealing with this phase, please see:
(It was originally put together several months ago, but the ideas & advice contained within still very much apply now.)