Rav Moshe Teitelbaum, zt”l, the previous Rebbe of Satmar, went through the living inferno that those who survived the Holocaust endured. After some time in Auschwitz, he was moved to Tröglitz, a camp in Rehmsdorf. Despite the danger, the inmates of the camp arranged to pray kol nidrei and they invited the rebbe to lead the prayers.
Of course, it was unthinkable to eat on Yom Kippur. But since the meager evening meal was served after nightfall, it at first appeared as though those who wished to fast would have to go without food before the fast as well. After much wrangling, the head of their block, Dr. Kizaelnik—who had been the rosh kahal in Sighet before the war—finally managed to arrange with the kitchen staff that the evening meal would be served before nightfall.
An eyewitness later recounted, “Before kol nidrei we went back into the block and fell onto our beds, crying bitter tears the likes of which I hope I never hear again. Then the good doctor announced that kol nidrei would soon begin and that any who wished could join the minyan. Still weeping, we went to the part of the room set aside for davening, and the rebbe began to speak.
“The rebbe commenced, ‘Rabbi Akiva said: Ashreichem Yisrael! Before Whom are you purified, and Who purifies you? Just as a mikveh purifies the defiled, God purifies Yisrael. We must recall that Rabbi Akiva was one of the ten martyrs—killed for sins he did not commit. He saw all the terrible travail which would befall Yisrael. Yet he chose to give a message of chizzuk to us for all generations. Although a mikveh literally alludes to a ritual pool, it can also allude to the word tikvah, hope. This
teaches that when we hope to Hashem, and do teshuvah—even if we are in the worst situation—God will uplift us. Even from this present darkness, which no nation has ever experienced, such bitterness and cruelty, God will deliver us. Amen.'”
Daf Yomi Digest
Stories Off the Daf
“The Hope of Yisrael”
Holocaust Remembrance Day orYom HaShoah begins in the evening of Wednesday, April 18, 2012, and ends in the evening of Thursday, April 19, 2012. Do not forget. Do not let your children forget. As long as we remember and repent, there lies our hope in God.
According to Dr. Michael Schiffman’s blog, “over 50,000 elderly Holocaust survivors living in Israel, and many thousands of holocaust survivors living in the former Soviet Union (are) living in abject poverty right now.” You can help make a difference. Learn how at Dr. Schiffmans’ blog and then make a donation at chevrahumanitarian.org.
There’s always hope, as long as you repent, remember, and then act out of kindness and compassion.