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[Page 496]

Martyrs of the Holocaust

Kra496.jpg
The candle of G-d is the soul of a person

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Words of Eulogy and Esteem

by Rabbi Yitzchak Halevi Shulzinger of Haifa, author of Imrot Yitzchak

Translated by Jerrold Landau

“I will render vengeance to Mine adversaries, and will recompense them that hate Me. 42 I will make Mine arrows drunk with blood, and My sword shall devour flesh; with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired heads of the enemy. 43 Sing aloud, O ye nations, of His people; for He doth avenge the blood of His servants, and doth render vengeance to His adversaries, and doth make expiation for the land of His people.” (Deuteronomy 32)[1]

“For he doth avenge the blood of his servants, and doth render vengeance” – two acts of vengeance: “vengeance for the blood and vengeance for the violence.” (Yalkut Shimoni, 247 946)

The heart is oppressed, the soul is mournful, the hand trembles, and the eyes shed tears as I take the pen in my hand to record an eyewitness memory for our children and grandchildren, until the end of days, about what happened to the communities of Israel in all the lands of Europe at the hands of the Nazi murderers, the accursed Germans, may their names be blotted out. Regarding this, the sweet singer of Israel said (Psalm 79)[2] “Pour out Your wrath on the gentiles who do not know You, and on the kingdoms who do not call in Your name, for thy have consumed Jacob and laid waste his habitation.”

“Consumed Jacob” – more than six million, a sizable portion of the Nation of Israel, from the cream of the crop of Jewry, youths and babies, pure and holy, righteous people and Torah greats, elderly and children, men and women were annihilated with harsh torture and unusual deaths.

“And have laid waste his habitation” – they murdered and pillaged in accordance with the verse “Have you killed and also taken possession”[3].

Standing on the blessing shall be my friend Reb Eliyahu Moshe the son of Reb Avigdor Halevi Rund, and Reb Efraim Ben-Zion the son of Reb Aharon Tzvi Luchfeld, who were among those active to make an eternal memorial, to put the thoughts into a book as a perpetual memorial, to perpetuate the dear souls, the holy, pure community, the holy and faithful Jews who went up at the stake, who were suffocated, killed, and burnt in sanctification of the Divine Name, of the Torah, and of Israel in the important city of Krasnobród, Zamość district, Lublin region in the country of Poland.

Krasnobród, which was renowned and splendorous in Israel, was influenced by the Torah and wisdom of Chachmei Lublin…

Lublin was famous already from the time of the Mahara'm of Lublin[4]. He would use the expression Makshin Haolam [difficulties of the world] in his novellae and commentaries on the Talmud. It is asked:

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And is the world difficult, and does the world have something more difficult than the statements of the Talmud? For only the people of the House of the Talmud, the people of the study halls, the studiers, who toil and weary themselves to understand and know the words of Torah in general, and the Talmud in particular. They have questions and difficulties in their studies. They respond to questions and break apart problems to ascertain the text properly. So, is there any place for the expression “difficulties of the world”? Does this have any connection to reality?

However, the Mahara'm of Lublin of blessed memory expressed in this manner his great and broad opinion of the people of Israel in general: That the world of Torah, the studies of Torah and those that fulfil its commandments are indeed the world. The world is founded and based on them, as it is written: “In the beginning created” [Genesis 1:1]. Rashi states there: This verse demands explanation, as our sages of blessed memory have written, “For the sake of the Torah that is called ‘the beginning of His way’, as is said (Proverbs 8): The L-rd made me the beginning of his way; and for the sake of the righteous who are called ‘the first’ as is said (Jeremiah 2): Israel is holy to G-d, the first of its produce, everyone who consumes it will be guilty, evil will befall them, thus says G-d. For them, the world was created, and in their merit it exists. Had Israel not accepted the Torah at Sinai, the world would have reverted to unformed and void, as before creation.”

We agree completely that the gentiles who did not want to receive the Torah at Sinai perpetrate deeds of ruin and destruction, evil and corruption, even though they possess wisdom, as it is written (Lamentations 2) “Their kings and princes among the nations have no Torah.” The Midrash states there: “If they tell you that there is wisdom in Edom, believe it, but that there is Torah in Edom, do not believe it.” We were present, and have studied with clear knowledge that wisdom that is not the wisdom of the Torah is wisdom that will bring evil, and the culture of the gentiles is the culture of sinners. How much evil did the Edomites perpetrate with their “wisdom.” How did they raise their impure hands to beat the holy flock with their evil fists. In this, they continue the ways of their father Esau, as is written “And I will kill my brother Jacob” (Toldot) [Genesis 27:41]. The wicked in their anger have killed infants and suckling babes, women and men, the old and the children, the righteous and the pious, greats in Torah and people of virtuous deeds.

It is fitting to recite the dirge [kina] of Jeremiah the prophet, who lamented the destruction of the Temple: “Would it be that my head was water, and my eyes were a source of tears, I would weep day and night for the victims of the daughter of my nation.” (Jeremiah 8). “For death has come up to our windows, and has entered our palaces, to cut off infants outside, and youths from the streets.” (Jeremiah 9).

Woe is me for my hurt! My wound is grievous; but I said: “This is but a sickness, and I must bear it.” (Jeremiah 10[5]). The community of Krasnobród was an important community within Polish Jewry. It

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was based on faithful principles and holy foundations, upon Torah, the commandments, and the traditions of the fathers. Rabbis who were great in Torah served there. They prayed and poured out their supplications in the synagogues and Hassidic houses, as they communed with the Holy One Blessed Be He. In addition, there were also those who frequented the Beis Midrash and studied Torah alone or in public, in all subjects of Torah – Tanach, Mishna, Gemara, Midrash, and Jewish law – each according to their ability and understanding.

The city consisted of many streams of Hassidism. There were Hassidic prayer houses for Belz, Radzyn, Gur, and Trisk.

Krasnobród was close to the city of Izbica, where the honorable Admor, the Tzadik Rabbi Mordechai Yosef, may the memory of the righteous and holy be a blessing, the founder of the Izbica-Radzyn dynasty, lived. His grandson, the Admor and Tzadik Rabbi Gershon Henech, may the memory of the righteous be a blessing, authored a book on techelet[6], and reinstated the use of techelet in tzitzit.

Regarding the commandment of tzitzit in general, it is said (Torah portion of Shlach) [Numbers 15:40]: “So that you will remember and do all of My commandments, and be holy to your G-d.” The Gemara states (Menachot 43): “This commandment is equal to all of the commandments.” The Gemara continues there: “How is techelet different from all other colors? Because techelet is similar to the sea, and the sea is similar to the firmament, and the firmament to the Throne of Honor.” The Yalkut (Shlach, 247 950) states: “The Torah says that anyone who fulfils the commandment of tzitzit is considered as if he welcomed the face of the Divine Presence, for techelet is compared to the sea, and the sea is compared to the firmament, and the firmament is compared to the Throne of Honor, as is said (Ezekiel 1), “And above the firmament is like the appearance of sapphire stone.”

The commandment of tzitzit, which is considered as equal and important as all the commandments of the Torah, with the addition of the commandment of techelet, reminds one that it has the power to raise man in the trait of faith in the Blessed Creator, to the sublime point of uniting with the Throne of Honor, as is written (Hosea 2): “And I shall betroth you in faith, and you shall know G-d.”

That which Jacob saw in a dream “And behold there was a ladder planted on the ground with its head reaching the skies, and angels of G-d were ascending and descending upon it.” (Vayeitzei). According to the simple meaning, it is referring to the angel of above, angles from heaven, as it says (Vayishlach): “And Jacob sent messengers.” Rashi says there: “literally angels.” But there is another intention to angels going up and down. Our sages have said (Vayikra Rabba, chapter 1): “The prophets are referred to as angels, as it says” (Numbers 20): “And he sent an angel and took us out of Egypt.” And was it an angel of G-d? Was it not Moses? Why is he called an angel? From here we learn that the prophets are called angels.”

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However, it is not only prophets who are called angels. The Admor, the holy and righteous Gaon Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Leib, may the memory of the righteous and holy be blessed, of Gur, says in his book, Sfat Emet, on the Torah (Vayikra, year 5631 [1871]): “In truth, every person of Israel sent into the world to do the will of Our Father In Heaven is called a messenger and an angel, for an angel has nothing other than its mission… If a person watches himself to refrain from doing any deed that does not fulfil the desire of The Blessed One… then he is indeed called an angel.” The Admor, the righteous Gaon Rabbi Avraham may the memory of the righteous and holy be a blessing, the Magid Meisharim of Trisk, says in his book, Magen Avraham, on the five books of the Torah (Vayeitzei, page 22, folio a): “Ladder” [sulam] “is Sinai” for Sl'm [סל”מ] has the same gematria [numerical value of the Hebrew letters] as Sinai [סינ”י], which is the acronym for Yosef sod yesod nikra [Joseph is secretly called the foundation], for his strength was in the rectification of the trait of foundation[7] of a Tzadik, for this is the fundamental foundation in the ways of serving the Blessed G-d. This is what “standing on the ground” means, that is, that even the matter of this service stands upon this earth. However, in truth, “and its head reached the Heavens” for the head of this reaches upward and upward to the heights of the supernal worlds. “And behold, the angels of G-d are ascending and descending upon it.” The angels of G-d are going up and down has the gematria of the 613 commandments of the Torah, and they are angels of G-d! They are occupied in Torah and in the 613 commandments within the Torah. With all this, the fundamental aspect of their ascent and descent is dependent on this ladder, which hints at the rectification of the foundation of the sign of the covenant. When they sanctify themselves with the holiness of yesod [foundation] they ascend to the heights of the upper levels and reach elevated levels. On the other hand, when they do not have this trait, they can still reach the state of descent, Heaven forbid.

Indeed, our father Jacob, peace be upon him, rectified this trait as appropriate. Therefore, he merited a great ascent, and merited that the light of his name will be revealed to him by G-d, as is written: “And behold G-d is standing before him.” [Genesis 28:13].

Further there (Portion of Naso, page 42, folio b): “And it says in the Gemara: And on each and every spike, there are heaps of halachot. Halachot implies “the ways of the world”[8], which means going from step to step from world to world, for on each and every spike there are pathways of ascent, enabling the lowly human to go and pass to all the supernal worlds. Therefore, a wholesome person who walks in the ways of G-d glorifies and strengthens the crown of his blessed kingdom, so to speak – in accordance with the verse “Your right hand, o G-d, is glorious in power” [Exodus 15:6], and as is written “Ascribe strength to G-d” [Psalms 68:35]. Israel adds strength to the Heavenly hosts – through this, he has it in his power to go from world to world, to pass through all the worlds, and to cleave to the essence of his Blessed G-d in the light of the Eternal Blessed Be He and Blessed Be His Name – to awaken

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from there the continuation of all the positive influences through all the worlds until the lower world, and to influence all of Israel.

The Admor, the righteous Gaon Rabbi Shalom Rokeach, may the memory of the righteous and the holy be blessed, from Belz, says (brought in the Book Belz by Rabbi Y. M. Gutman, page 46): “And he stood over them under the tree and they ate” [Genesis 18:8]. It is appropriate to understand why at first it says “stood over him” [Genesis 18:2], implying that they [i.e. the angels] were above him [i.e. Abraham], and here it is written “and he stood over them” implying that he is above them.

The explanation: It is known there are several groups of ministering angels. There is a group that is high above other angels, and greater than Israel until the future to come, when they will merit being in front of the ministering angels. Those angels that came to Abraham our forefather, peace be upon him, were of the elevated level. Therefore, it is written about them “stood above him.” However, Abraham did not realize they were angels, so it is written “men” “and Abraham ran to greet them.” “And he ran” – he did the act of the mitzvah, and then he “greeted them” – literally equal with them, for a man of Israel, through the act of the mitzvot, is able to merit high holiness, and he merits even more of what Israel will ultimately merit in the future to come. This is the meaning of “and he stood above them.”

Furthermore, it is said (ibid. page 53): “Then Moses and the Children of Israel sang this song to G-d” [Exodus 15:1]. It is known that if a person of Israel studies and prays, the Holy One Blessed Be He prays along with him. And what is the prayer of the Holy One Blessed Be He? “May it be [My] will that My mercies shall overcome My anger.” [Brachot 7a]. Certainly when the Community of Israel sang the song with a pure heart, they caused the Blessed God to also recite the song. This is the explanation of “And then Moses and the Children of Israel sang this song to G-d.” ישׁיר is a causative noun, meaning that Moses and the Children of Israel caused G-d to also sing this song, hinting to G-d that He too recite this song.

From all the holy writings brought down here, we learn that every Jew, through the study of Torah, the fulfilment of the commandments, and prayer can reach the level of an angel, and even higher than that. For the holy song of every Jew wherever he may be connects, blends, and cleaves to the song of the G-d may He be blessed, in accordance with “And thou who cleave to the L-rd your G-d are all alive today.” [Deuteronomy 4:4]

The foundational principle of all these matters is faith, as the prophet states (Habakkuk 2)

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“And the righteous shall live by his faith.” It is written in the Yalkut Shimoni (Hosea innuendo 519) “You find that the exiles are not gathered other than through the reward of faith. As is written (Song of Songs 4): ‘Come with me from Lebanon my bride, come with me from Lebanon, peer from the top of Amana’”[9]. Faith is great before He Who Spoke And The World Came To Be, for as a reward for the faith that Israel had, the holy spirit rested upon them and they recited the song, as it says (Exodus 14): “And they believed in G-d and in Moses His servant – then did Moses and the Children of Israel sing.” Similarly, it says (ibid. 17): “And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, and his hands were steady”[10]

That which Jacob our forefather saw in a dream was: that the Children of Israel could ascend upward on a ladder planted in the earth, whose head reached the heavens – to the supernal point of uniting with the Throne of Honor. The commandment of techelet [blue strings on tzitzit], reminiscent of the Throne of Glory, demonstrates this level, and the path to ascent through the House of G-d.

In Krasnobród there was study of Torah, the fulfilment of the commandments with great faith, charity, and virtuous deeds. There were acts of benevolence, tending to guests, visiting the sick, groups who recited Psalms, a burial society [Chevra Kadisha], etc.

Destruction then came and destroyed everything. We must always remember this. It is forbidden for us to forget. The Torah commands “Remember that which Amalek did to you on your way when you left Egypt.” [Deuteronomy 25:17] If there is a commandment to remember that which Amalek did to us when we left Egypt, how much more so must we remember that which the German murderer, forged from the branch of Amalek, a shoot from its root, did to us at the threshold of the beginning of the redemption, at the threshold of the third and final redemption.

Regarding the war with Amalek, the Torah tells us (Exodus 17): “And Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.” It is said (ibid.): “And Joshua weakened Amalek and his nation with the sword.” That means, that in the final reckoning, the Children of Israel achieved the defeat of Amalek. The sin of this murderer was the opening that was opened before all the enemies of Israel, the permit that permitted them to fight with Israel. For until that time, the fear of Israel was upon all the nations who saw the glory of the pride of G-d that was revealed at the Exodus from Egypt, and the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, as the Torah testifies (Exodus 15): “Then were the chiefs of Edom affrighted; the mighty men of Moab, trembling taketh hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan are melted away. Terror and dread falleth upon them; by the greatness of Thine arm they are as still as a stone; till Thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over that Thou hast gotten.”[11]

Amalek was the one who breathed into all the nations the evil inclination to fight

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and to start up with Israel. The spirit of Amalek dampened the fear of Israel and its G-d, as our sages of blessed memory explain regarding the verse: “He met you on the way”[12]. Rashi explains “This is from the language of cold and heat, he cooled you down and tempered your boiling. For all the nations were afraid of fighting against you, and this one came, began, and showed the way for the others. This is like a boiling bath into which no creature could enter. A certain base person comes and jumps in. Even though he is scalded, he cools it down for others.”

There is an opinion that Amalek cut off and killed several Israelites. However, even though he murdered individuals, he did not reach the level of his German descendants, may their names be blotted out, who consumed and annihilated approximately seven million [sic] of the cream of the crop of the nation. This disaster that took place “Before the great and terrible day of the L-rd comes” [Malachi 3:23], is 77 times greater than the war of Amalek against Israel[13], for had those millions who were murdered at the hands of the German Amalekites been living with us today, the State of Israel would be different from end to end by all criteria. We would not be afraid of intruders at night and murderers in the light of the sun. The millions of our faithful, dear brethren would have actively helped and participated in the upbuilding of the land, the sprouting of the desolation, and the returning of this crown of this Holy Land to its former status.

The Holocaust that cut down over our heads during this tumultuous generation was greater in length and essence than the war with Amalek at Rephidim. Therefore, we must remember it and etch it upon the tablet of our hearts with a pen of iron and a point of diamond[14].

In the Song of the Sea, it says: “Then Moses and the Children of Israel sang this song to G-d, saying: I will sing to G-d for he is very exalted, He drowned horse and rider in the sea.” [Exodus 15: 1-2]. It says in the Gemara (Sanhedrin 91:2); “Rabbi Meir said: it does not say ‘sang’ but rather ‘will sing’ – from here is a reference in the Torah to the resurrection of the dead.” The song of the sea during the Exodus from Egypt was the beginning of the song of the redemption of Israel, which began with the Exodus from Egypt, the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, and the defeat of the enemies of Israel. However, the song did not cease. It will be continued in the future. The continuation will be after the final eradication of Amalek, “You shall erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens, do not forget” [Deuteronomy 25:19] – after Israel is saved by G-d with an eternal salvation, a perpetual salvation and redemption from the wellsprings of light and redemption. Then the statement of the prophet will be fulfilled (Isaiah 26:19): “Arise and sing you who dwell in the dust, for your dew is the dew of light, and the land of the shades shall be brought down.”

Speedily in our days, Amen.

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Yizkor

May G-d remember the souls of all my relatives, male and female, whether from my father's side or my mother's side, who were murdered, killed, slaughtered, burned, drowned, or asphyxiated in sanctification of the Divine Name, for I pledge charity in memory of their souls. In reward for this, may their souls be bound in the bonds of life with the souls of Abraham our forefather, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, and the rest of the righteous men and women in the Garden of Eden, and let us say Amen.

* * *

G-d full of mercy, the judge of widows and father of orphans, do not be silent and complacent over the blood of Israel that was spilled like water. Grant proper rest under the wings of the Divine Presence in the holy, pure heights, in the splendor of the glorious firmament, to the souls of the martyrs of Krasnobród, men and women, boys and girls, who were murdered, slaughtered, burnt, drowned, asphyxiated, and buried alive in our city of Krasnobród.

All are righteous and pure, among them Gaonim and Tzadikim, Cedars of Lebanon, and mighty ones of Torah. Let their repose be in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, the Master of Mercy shall bind their souls in the bonds of life. G-d is their inheritance. Their martyrdom shall be recalled by us, and their merit shall stand for us and for all of Israel. Earth, do not conceal their blood, and let there not be a limitation to their outcry. The dispersed of Israel shall return to their land, and the righteousness of the martyrs shall be an eternal memory before G-d. May they come to peace, and rest in peace in their repose, and let us say Amen.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 32: 42 (latter half of verse) – 44, from the song of Haazinu. Translation of these highly poetic verses courtesy of Mechon Mamre: https://mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0532.htm return
  2. I.e., King David. These verses are also recited in the latter part of the Passover Seder [Shefoch Chamatcha]. return
  3. From I Kings 21:19, the words used by Elijah when confronting King Ahab after he had his neighbor Naboth murdered in order to take over his field. return
  4. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meir_Lublin return
  5. Jeremiah 10:19. Translation of this verse was taken from Mechon Mamre: https://mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1110.htm return
  6. Strands dyed with a special blue dye used for making the fringes of tzitzit. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tekhelet return
  7. Foundation [yesod] is one of the Kabbalistic spheres. return
  8. The word halacha generally means Jewish law. Its literal translation would be ‘ways of walking’ or ‘paths.’ return
  9. A play on words, as Amana אמנה here literally refers to the Amana Mountains in Lebanon. However, it has almost the same letters and pronunciation as Emuna אמונה, meaning faith. return
  10. Exodus 17:12. The word used for ‘steady’ in this verse is the same as the word for faith: Emuna. return
  11. Exodus 15: 15-16. Translation from Mechon Mamre: https://mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0215.htm return
  12. Deuteronomy 25:18. The word for ‘met’ that is used here, קָרְךָ, has the same root as ‘cold.’ return
  13. A reference from Genesis 4:24. return
  14. See Jeremiah 17:1. I based my translation of this difficult portion of the verse from Mechon Mamre: https://mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1117.htm return

 

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