« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 262]

Words of
Contemplation and Thoughts


Judaism and Nationalism

by Rabbi Israel Frenkel, Toronto, Canada

This article is dedicated to the memory of the martyrs, my wife Esther, daughter of Reb Shlomo Diamand; my daughters Rachel and Sarah, my sons Shlomo and Shalom who were killed in Lwow in 1941, for the sanctification of the Divine Name, by the savages, the Nazis and their helpers, whose names should be obliterated forever.

The horrible and fearful Holocaust, the impressions of which are carved with a steel etcher in everyone's heart, had revealed and exposed the cultural consciousness of Esau, and manifestly proved that secular knowledge is not a sufficient means to education the sleeping animal in the human being. There is nothing in the human being that can curb his natural inclination to plunder and murder. It is clear that what was pathetically called progress was only an outward appearance, blinding the eye from seeing the animal in mankind, who as soon as he smells blood, shakes his back, kicks with his legs and rushes to satiate his passion exposing his nude image and his true character.

The same thing is lacking in Jewish Nationalism which was created in the same form. The force that is needed which could restraint he inner dismantling of the spirituality, causing assimilation and loss of the meaning of the word “Nation,” of which the Diaspora had become a scaffold and the dispersion throughout all the corners of the globe had often times offered various material convenience in exchange for assimilation. Our history confirms such a fact by the disappearance without a trace of the ten tribes who sailed into the mighty sea of the Assyrian people. They were the Samaritans who adopted the strange cult during the reign of Jerubaam, even before the general dispersion, refusing to surrender to the holy authority of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The nationalism of the Samaritans was insufficient to stand as a barrier against the plague of assimilation, but such was not the case in the Kingdom of Judah. Because Judah held on firmly to the Hebrew traditions and culture, it was not swept away with the torrent and did not fall victim to the craze of disintegration which plagued the Kingdom of Israel. In fact, after seventy years in Babylonian exile, Zerubavel, Ezra and Nechemiah, made the declaration about the return to Zion which provoked the declaration of Koresh, the ruler of Babylon, resulting in the building of the Second Temple and the restoration of the political life of the Jewish people in their land.

Thanks to the spiritual center in Yavneh and its scholars, the well from which the soul of the people drew its spiritual food, and their glow, which illuminated the darkness of the exile, and the hearts of the afflicted, made them believe in a glorious future after the coming of

[Page 263]

Rabbi Israel Frenkel,
Toronto, Canada

[Page 264]

the Messiah, which turned into the “I believe” of all Jews. This has preserved our energy and enabled us to reach this point at a time when within other nations, religion and nationalism are sovereign ideas. The states are separate from religion because religion engulfs many nationalities. Our religion engulfs our nation alone, as it is said: “This nation alone shall dwell without consideration of others.” Israel and the Torah are one. Blood relationships do not make the Jews a people. Extremism and racism are strangers to Judaism. Racism by itself stems from Darwinism which denies the Teachings of the Torah of Moses, which begins with: “And G–d created man.” David King of Israel was the grandson of Ruth the Moabite who accepted the ethics of Judaism recognizing the Torah's world outlook without external material enticement. When she said, “Your G–d is my G–d,” she became part of Israel's body.

Territorial boundaries do not define Jewish nationhood either. Besides the mysterious holiness of our land “Upon which G–d's eyes had been cast from the beginning until the end,” the borders serve only as an insulator to prevent infiltration of alien influence. Within their borders the Jewish people can fulfill their aspirations and t heir characteristic life undisturbed, without being socio–economically dependent upon gentile rules, a first step toward spiritual surrender, which ends up in complete assimilation. The criterion of natural Judaism is based specifically on deeds and obedience, on ways of thoughts and actions, whose roots were derived from the great and rich past of the people, and the mental inclination of the gentle Jewish soul, nurtured by the historical idealism hidden in the Book of Moses.

Even before the conquest of our land, when the Israelites wandered in the desert and stood at the foothills of Mount Sinai, when they had repudiated the Egyptian rituals, the voice of Moses, the leader of our people, was heard: “Today you became a nation.” By receiving the Torah the nation had been crystallized and became a whole unit. It would be considered a betrayal of the people and their national values to turn away from the Torah, Heaven forbid. Nationalism without a Jewish outlook and idea, and without religion is like a body without a soul, not able to exalt the Jewish soul to its desired level.

Until now my words were addressed to the Jewish youth, “to the boy and girl only.” Now I would like to turn the coin to the other side: “To the mature man and woman.” Already at the end of the nineteenth century, there were anti–Semitic politicians in Austria and Germany who developed a concept, defining the Jews a sect of believers observing Jewish religion. With such a concept they wanted to solve the Jewish problem with the kiss of death, by burning the soul out of the existing body. It attracted the assimilated and they became faithful partners of this concept in order to fight Zionism. To our sorrow, the premise of depriving the nationality had also found many sympathizers among the Orthodox segment of our people, who were apprehensive that Zionism might penetrate the wall of the Beit Hamidrash and would negatively influence the religious youths. For the same reason, the Orthodox also opposed emigration to the United States which, as it appears now, was destined by Providence. The increase of the Jewish community in the United States

[Page 265]

through mass immigration had saved the American Jewry from assimilation. We witnessed the same phenomenon following the development of the Jewish community in Eretz Israel and the forming of its religious image. The Jewish people's strong will to live and the Divine promise: “And even when they (the Jews) will be in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them, and will not abhor them, to be destroyed,” was stronger than the artificial wall that some Jews erected between their heart and brain, between the body and soul, between nationality and religion, The self negation in different countries of the Diaspora did not reduce even one iota the hatred of the Eternal People by the world. It also did not stop the national feeling of the youths. Also, the seekers of social justice among the nations, the dreamers of a new world, and their leader Karl Marx, in his stigmatizing chapters about the character of Judaism, are trying to describe Judaism in an unfavorable light. They are depriving the Jewish people of their national character. According to his teacher Marx, Stalin the student, in his pamphlet, “The problems of Nationalism” negates the nationhood of the Jewish people, relying on Marx' quotations.

However, the sub–sequential force of the Zionist movement, its growth, the flourishing progress of the settlements in Eretz Israel, the people's fight for freedom, and the ocean waves of the exoduses, has eradicated the above false idea forever. As a result of these historical events, Stalin changed his mind, according to Gromyko's declaration in the United Nations, and the recognition of the Jewish State. And if the gentiles could change their minds, more so those Jews who kept their distance and had a negative opinion toward Zionism, causing division – they surely ought to change their minds and negative stand toward the resurrection movement of the people and its spirit. Nationalism and Jewish religion are identical and both are derived from the same source – the Torah of Moses, the foundation of which the claim to our land is based. And, without the land, we cannot carry on the wholeness of the Torah.

Judaism has taught us to love mankind. Our people were crowned with titles such as merciful, shy, and benefactors. Judaism is a synthesis of the people's heart and its brains. Its symbol is the head phylactery opposite the brain, and the hand phylactery opposite the heart, which shall not be separated. Judaism requires turning severity into a form, to sacrifice the body on the altar of the nation for the eternal soul of the people, for the existence of the nation, and sanctification of the Divine Name.

The brain of the nationalistic Jews should be influenced from the spirit of the Torah, the soul of Judaism. The religious Jew should comprehend with his intellect the importance of the national factor which is Judaism's body. The Jew who believes shall rest and repose on the seventh day because on this day G–d rested. The nationalistic Jew should do the same because his forefather had protected him for generations. The religious Jew should put on his prayer shawl and tefillin as a devotion to the Divine, and the nationalistic Jew as a devotion to: “Thou shall respect thy father and mother,” and, “Thou shall not abandon the teaching of thy mother.”

[Page 266]

The platonic division between religion and nationalism is a disturbing factor in national unity, and its demolition is in order.

A Partial Answer, Regret and Guilt

by Rabbi Israel Frenkel, Toronto, Canada

This article is dedicated to the tragic death of my mother, Chana Turner, in the ghetto Kozow, and to my brother, Tzvi, his wife Hassah, and their son Baruch. Blessed be their memory.

The heart of every Jew is replete with Job's sufferings, and some time filled with Job's complaints against G–d. Let the believing reader find in these lines a partial answer to his complaints against Providence.

Years have gone by since the awful tragedy occurred. This was a national tragedy and a tragedy for thousands of individuals. The nation was somewhat compensated for her losses through the establishment of the sovereign State of Israel in the holy land and the return of its sons to their home. A celebrated beginning of total redemption and also a small consolation to the individuals, the surviving remnants, each of whom can declare: “I was there and saw the suffering.” However, for the nation or the individual, it is still a long way from a complete recovery. We are even further from understanding the horror of the tragedy which we witnessed, and of which we were a part. Once in a while a “severe complaint arises in our hearts against Heaven, “and everyone is like Job from Biblical times who objected and wondered about G–d's justice. Therefore, an attempt will be made here to enlighten the impasse, according to this writer's outlook, an outlook to which he arrived immediately after the Shoah, and which has been growing stronger inside of him from then until the present.

As it is known, the nature of a person is a synthesis of material and form, of human wisdom and instinct. He always stands at the crossroads between good and evil. He can freely choose between t hem, as our sages said, “The path a person follows – he is led to.” If his godly part, his wisdom, overtakes instinct, he overpowers his bestiality and becomes a free man, not a slave to his passions. Then he is an ethical thinker, a whole person. However, if his instinct dominates his wisdom, he becomes a slave to his bestial passions. His spirit becomes warped, he loses G–d's image, and his wildness surpasses even that of the beast.

This freedom of choice to select a path in life is one of the cornerstones of the holy Torah, which is based on “There is law, and there is a judge.” The leadership from above, Divine providence, is in command of everything around us. However, it is different with man's actions. Good or bad deeds are not controlled by a higher dictate. “He does not dictate bad or good.” A person is unhindered and is free to perform good or bad deeds, from which he himself is responsible. And it is up to heavenly justice to punish man for his bad deeds, and reward him for his good ones. This is the primary religious principle referred to as: Reward and punishment.

On the basis of the above theory that a person has the freedom of choice, free to perform humanitarian deeds or, in the alternative, he can rob and murder, therefore, we come to the conclusion that, if a

[Page 267]

person finds himself in a dangerous situation, he must make a choice and do everything possible to escape from that danger that is hovering over him and not rely on miracles. This was formulated by sour sages: “Every ting depends on Heaven except deeds. When you see a crooked path, beware, and G–d will assist you.” Here we reached the partial solution to our problems.

Is there a more dangerous situation than a small minority living among a grim, hostile population that is always ready to destroy them? In such a dangerous situation, it was an elementary religious commandment to do something to alleviate that problem and escape from that place, as Jacob did when Laban's face changed and gave him that hostile look. G–d told him, “Return to your fatherland,” and leave this dangerous place. From that, one should draw the conclusion that whoever closes his eyes to danger can only blame himself. The individual or community finds himself in a situation of abandonment by G–d.

Just as in regard to the flood, G–d had told Noah one hundred and twenty years earlier to build the ark. And Providence had sent Jeremiah, the messenger, with a warning, half a century before the destruction of the Holy Temple. The return to Zion Movement was also created by Providence to awaken the European Jewry from their sweet dreams, and take them away from the flesh pots. They refused to see that around the golden calf there were animals with human likeness that were waiting for the proper moment to destroy them. When some of those nationalistic messengers came to us from a “distant place” because they came from assimilated circles, but we should have understood that they were sent by G–d. The Zionist Movement engulfed assimilated families also, whose children became fighting pioneers. “The sound of the masses is like the sound of the Almighty.” It was G–d's message to save them from the crematoriums in their future. In fact, the Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel remained unscathed by the blood–flood, just like Noah's ark during the flood.

Was it not a sign from G–d when, after the First World War in which we lost more blood than others, Balfour appeared with his declaration for a Jewish Homeland in Eretz Israel? The gates of Palestine were open for years but, unfortunately, we refused to leave the golden calf and the flesh pots of Europe. Our leaders also committed a sin because they chose the comfortable but risky way of, “Stay put/do–nothing attitude.” Forgetting the teachings of the Torah: “And you will be blessed in all your endeavors,” the leaders refused to recognize the sign of G–d.

In conclusion, we must say that the tragedy that befell our nation is not as some would like to interpret it as G–d's punishment. However, it should remind us of our guilt for being passive to the oncoming danger. We continued to live in a sea of hatred at a time when it was hinted from Heaven to escape and make aliyah to Eretz Israel, the land on which, “G–d set his eyes on from the beginning to the end.”

Even now we try to return to our stupidity and cling to the defiling nations. We are returning to the danger and we sit among the gentiles whose bestiality may burst out tomorrow or the next day. There are some people among us who try to wrap this thing in piety. They are looking

[Page 268]

for the beard on the faces of the Israeli leadership, and if they do not find it, they kick the State. Let us not search in the faces of the Israeli leadership for the features of the high priests who served in the Holy Temple. The leaders' greatness expresses itself in that they know how to stand up to the enemies who are at our gates. Great is the suffering even now that the Jewry of Poland, Lithuania, Galicia, and the majority of the Hungarian Jewry are not with us in Israel. How can we correct this sin? By returning to the homeland in Eretz Israel. This will be the consolation for the destruction. This will be the answer to our disturbing thoughts which keep pestering us. A great danger hovers over us. Statehood or slaughter. Let us select Statehood.

Our Strength Against a Hostile World

by Rabbi Israel Frenkel, Toronto, Canada

The world's nations have utilized all kinds of methods in order to force us to disintegrate and cease to exist. They use paradoxical controversial distortions on our account to motivate the nations to exhibit their hatred for the Jews. Simultaneously, with the wild shut, “Take revenge!” for the supposed ritual killing of a Christian child during the pogrom in Kielce, was also heard the beastly roar about the Judeo–Communism. From the left we were crowned with the title of international capitalists and from the right with the title international Communists. It makes no difference whether the distortions are believers or atheists, conservatives or progressives, we always remain the weak, gentle people, always the scapegoat, the lightning rod which ought to divert the anger of the masses from their rulers who direct their rage upon the helpless, defenseless, Jewish citizens.

However, the strong will to live possessed by the Jewish people, that stiff–necked nation, refused to resign from their historic existence, and would not give up their hopefulness for a bright future. The trials and tribulations that the Jewish folk organism had to endure, that their tormentors imposed upon them, did not break or weaken their drive for continuity. The desire for moral and spiritual resistance has risen even more, in spite of the painful suffering, as the Torah says in Numbers I, v. 12, “But in the measure that they afflicted the same, so it multiplied and so it spread itself out.”

After the Second Destruction, Rome celebrated the destruction of Judea at the gates of Titus. They thought that the end had come for the nation. However, soon the sun began to shine from Sura, Nahardea, and Pumpedayta, the Talmudical universities where the bloodied organism of the Jewish people was healed, the nation's soul was forged, and the will to live was refreshed to await a future full of hope, and refused to give up even one iota of belief in the eternity of Israel. At a time when not even a trace of the Roman Empire remained, we awoke to a spiritual life by creating the Babylonian and Jerusalem version of Talmud, which glued together the loose parts of the persecuted Jewish people from Babylon and Eretz Israel into one unit.

When the Crusaders tried through pogroms and murder to break the stubbornness of the Jewish will to live, a bright star began to shine from the Jewish scholars of Spain. The well–known Golden Era which introduced

[Page 269]

new horizons of wisdom and thoughts for the Jewish soul, crystallized itself in the thirteen “I believes” of Maimonides. These thirteen statements refreshed with hope the Jewish lamb which spread throughout the world and strengthened the belief in a promising future.

When the Ukrainian Hitler, Chmielnicki, committed his brutal blood–shed from the Jewish body, the nations of the world thought that we had despaired and our stubbornness was broken forever. But soon a great light speared in the darkness: The Hassidism of the Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, which shined into the downtrodden Jew, brought an uplifting of the Jewish soul. The Jew drew power, belief, and assurance in a brighter morning, and looked with abhorrence upon his tormentors.

After the blood–flood, the last gruesome catastrophe of the European Jews, our enemies thought: “Their hope is gone.” They were sure that after such a bloodletting from the body of the Jewish nation it will remain powerless, and Jewish struggle for self–determination was shattered forever. However, despite our enemies, with help from above, the grandchildren of the Hasmonian, with incomparable heroism and might, the modern–day Macabees jumped into a holy war with enthusiasm, and fought for the existence and continuance of the body and soul of the Jewish nation and they did not fear for t heir lives. Because the dying of Jewish heroes possesses a high moral idealistic sense, our present–time Macabees, with their readiness to die, have removed the diaspora shame of being led like sheep to the slaughter.

The quiet noise of lamentation and the roaring rivers of blood from our holy martyrs in Europe disturbed the conscience of some of the righteous gentiles who sinned by being passive to the Jewish tragedy. The millions of souls of our martyrs were seeking an amendation and a reason for the Holocaust. Therefore, the Israeli heroes who spilled their blood on the battlefields during the war for Independence have given an amendation and content to the holocaust in Europe. Their blood had touched the victim's blood.

Martyrdom and the Sanctity of Life

by Rabbi Isaac Glikman, author of Holocaust and the Revival

Dedicated to the memory of my older brother, Joel, and his family
May G–d avenge their innocent blood

It was told: When Rabbi Yossi, the son of Kisma, became ill, Rabi Hanina, the son of Tradion, came to visit him. And Rabbi Hanina said, “Brother, don't you know that the nation which rules us was predestined by Heaven? And I heard that you are openly engaged in studying the Torah, with people gathered around you. You are also holding a Torah scroll on your lap.” The sick responded, “Heaven will have mercy.” Said Rabbi Hanina, “I am talking reality and you are telling me that Heaven will help. I will be surprised if they will not burn you together with the Torah scroll.” It was told that a few days later Rabbi Yossi passed away

[Page 270]

And the biggest personalities of Rome came to his funeral. On their return, they found Rabbi Hanina engaged in studying Torah, a large crowd around him, and he was holding a Torah scroll on his lap. He was brought before the Romans who tied him up together with the Torah scroll, put branches soaked in water, and put them on his chest to delay his expiration. His pupils told him: “Open your mouth and let the fire enter you.” Their intention was to hasten his death and lessen his pain. Then Rabbi Hanina responded: “The one who gave me life should take it away. I cannot do it.” A Roman by the name of Kalztoniri said to the Rabbi: “Rabbi, if I would make the fire bigger and take off the wet woolen sponges, would you recommend me to obtain a reward in the hereafter?” Said the Rabbi. “Yes! I swear.” Soon the fire grew bigger, the wet sponges were removed, and Rabbi Hanina expired. Another Rabbi lamented: “Some gain a reward in the hereafter in a second, and some have to serve G–d all their lives.” (Excerpt from the Talmudical tractate, Avoda Zarah, pg. 18.)

Two basic things stand out from the above tale which described the spiritual image of Rabbi Hanina, who had reached the highest level of sanctification. The first part of the story shows us the greatness of the virtue to love G–d and his torah which burned inside him like a flaming fire. It prodded him publicly to defy the ruler's order forbidding the study of Torah, without considering the danger to his life. When Rabbi Hanina was asked why, he responded that G–d's commandment is to study Torah. He did not even try to defend himself in order to save his life, as if he were just waiting for the chance to sacrifice his life on the altar for the holiness of G–d and his Torah. Yet, the second part of the story is no less amazing. It extends the principle of the sanctity of life that prevented the Rabbi from hastening his death, even though he was in great pain and on the verge of dying. At his student's suggestion to open his mouth, he said: “Life is not the domain of man. It belongs to the one who had given it.” The reason the other Rabbi cried was not that Rabbi Hanina had refused to hasten his death, but rather, that Rabbi Hanina, in his horrible suffering, was forced to help the Roman, his brutal executor, received a reward in the hereafter for relieving him from his suffering and hastening his expiration.

Two commandments, one parallel with the other, have come down from heaven to the people of Israel and imprinted their mark on them. “And I shall be sanctified among the children of Israel.” (Leviticus XXII, 32,) “And ye shall keep my statues and live with them.” (Leviticus, XIII, v. 5.) According to Halacha: “Not ye shall die with them, did G–d say, but live with them.” The first commandment re quests sanctification of his Name, and the second commands us to preserve and guard our life regardless of the circumstances or situation, as long as it is not connected with the sanctification of his Name. These two commandments conquered the Jewish heart. They penetrated t he depths of the soul and became personal characteristics of the people, which protected them from spiritual and physical annihilation. On one hand, the spilled blood for the sanctification of the Divine Name during all generations was a kind of bloodletting from the nation's organism which strengthened her spirit

[Page 271]

and healed her soul. And, on the other hand, the strong guidance for the continuity of life, despite all physical and mental suffering involved, guarded the people from physical annihilation. The ability to adapt to the conditions of diasporal life, filled with humiliation and bitterness, and the strong will to continue to live, even though we had to bow down to let them trample on our backs, those commandments guarded us from annihilation and suicide.

Our sages drew the same moral from Rabbi Akiba when his ship broke up at sea. He was asked the question: “Who saved you?” He answered, “A board from the ship happened to come along, and to every wave which came at me, I nodded with my head.” And from that response, the sages concluded the following: “If the wicked attacks you, you shall nod your head at them.” This became the policy of the Jewish people in their diasporal life. This policy had brought the wrecked ship of the Jews through the stormy waves of the tyrants and the wicked who threatened to sink her during all the years of the dispersion, until the ship reached safe harbor.

Every once in a while we hear criticism from the younger generation in our land about the passivity of the holocaust martyrs in relation to their annihilators, who led them like sheep to the slaughter; words as sharp as stabbing swords which desecrate the honor of the martyrs whose destruction resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel. Their ostentatious words are accompanied by, “If we would have been there…” And they do not tremble nor feel the extent to which their remarks are deprived of basic reality, missing understanding and historical sense. The example Rambam used in his Guide For the Perplexed (Part II, sec. 17) is known to contradict those who believe in antiquity and take as evidence natures existence after the creation, believing that nature existed in the same way during the formation or prior thereto. It is the same as though someone compares the living condition and natural development of a child after his birth to the natural growth and development of a child after his birth to the natural growth and development in his mother's womb. The Holocaust martyrs had suddenly found themselves in the mouth of a savage animal who had trampled great nations and mighty governments. The martyrs had no arms or shields. They had been dispersed and dwelled among a gentile and hostile population. They knew well that rebellion had no chance to succeed and would have been suicidal. To satisfy feelings of vengeance by killing a few cursed Nazis would have caused immediate death and horrible torture for thousands of Jews.

Undoubtedly, if the victims would have been given a chance to survive for the price of betraying their faith, they would have followed in the footsteps of the martyrs from past generations and would have given their lives away. But the German Amalekites declared war on Israel and his G–d, and did not give his victims the opportunity to sanctify the Divine Name. They, the victims, preserved the purity of their faith and carried on their duty to live until the last minute. They returned their souls to their Creator, believing that they had merited to be the ones who drank the poisonous cup of the tribulations of the dispersion to the end, and the spilled blood fulfilled the faithful function which repeats

[Page 272]

itself in Jewish history. The expression of the Prophets came through in one short sentence: “In thine blood thou shall live.”

It is true that they did not survive the flood of blood and fire but, with their deaths, they bequeathed their lives to the People of Israel. Therefore, arise and honor the martyrs of the Holocaust. Because of their blood we are alive.

I Shall See the Holocaust
Before My Eyes Forever

by Shlomo Yahalomi

The question, “Why does the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper?” Is as old as the universe. Already the master of the Prophets, Moses our Teacher, asked G–d: Let me understand yours ways. (Exodus XXXIII, v. 11). According to our sages, the intention of this questioning by Moses was, “Why is it that some righteous men prosper and some suffer….and why is it that some wicked men prosper and some suffer? (Talmud tractate Brachot, pg. 7). Also Jeremiah asked: “Why are the wicked successful?” And there is no harder question than this one. Despite all the answers that have been given, this question remains and has never been fully solved. There is a vacuum among the thinkers of the world. And, if this is asked by every generation and they have never diverted their mind from it, more so, this question is asked by our generation, the generation of the Holocaust. And this question will probably be asked in the future until the Revered Name will reveal he reasons for it, and all mankind, not only the believers, will see that, “G–d's ways are just and all his deeds are benevolent.” However, it is true and correct that G–d's thinking is not as ours and we are not competent to understand his ways or to reach the depths of his thoughts. As Rabbi Nachman from Braclaw had already expressed in his sharp remark, “What kind of a G–d would he be if Nachman would understand Him?” Nevertheless, plenty of pleasant thoughts were expressed and much was said about the puzzling question, even though it was not explained completely. However, these thoughts and explanations made it easier for us to digest one of the greatest curiosities. We will briefly mention a few principal answers which have been given by our sages, adding explanatory comments from commentators and writers, and a little bit from this writer too.

  1. The Creator of mankind has created a world with everything in it. He created mankind with wisdom and has given him true learning, the Torah of Life, which guides and shows mankind which way to follow and the required deeds, fulfill G–d's commandments, and despise wickedness. Although G–d can force mankind to fulfill his commandments, he has given him a free choice to distinguish between good and evil. If man chooses the good, he merits his reward in the hereafter. And, if he chooses wickedness, he is punished. Yet, if G–d would reward the righteous and punish the wicked in this world, this would invalidate the whole principle of free choice because man would be afraid to sin and, perforce, would choose to be good. Therefore, G–d conducts the world in an ambivalent way. One righteous man prospers, and the other not. The same
[Page 273]
    is true with the wicked. From this ambivalence the free choice between denial and belief is derived, between the fulfillment of G–d's commandments and their disregard. If the human being is free to choose as he wishes, he is responsible for his deeds and there is a punishment and reward, mainly in the hereafter.
  1. Let us quote the sages in their own words: “Just as the wicked is punished for the smallest infraction in the hereafter, so is the righteous man punished for the smallest infraction in this world. Just as the righteous are paid a reward in the hereafter, even for the tiniest good deeds, so are the wicked rewarded for any tiny good deeds in this world.” (Talmud, tractate Tamid, pg.11.) Again, the sages have said: “The Almighty brings suffering upon the righteous in this world so they would be rewarded in the hereafter. He bestows favors upon the wicked in this world in order to torment and denigrate them to the lowest level in the hereafter.” (Talmud, tractate Kidushin, pg. 40). And the ages continued: “G–d is exacting with the righteous and holds them accountable for each little wrong that they committed in order to secure their tranquility, and the best reward in the hereafter. The wicked, he rewards for the little good they do in this world and holds them accountable for their wickedness in hereafter.” There are many more sayings on this subject throughout the Talmud and the Zohar. To sum up what the sages have said in our own words is: G–d pays the wicked in this world so that they would have no reward in the hereafter because over there, the rewards are so great that they do not compare to the rewards of this world. In contrast, the righteous man's punishment for a sin is much greater in hereafter than in this world. And that is how Rashi comments on the sentence:
    And He pays his enemies in order to deny him.”
  2. So far we have considered the traditional teachings. However, in the mystical teachings, in the Kabbala books, the “righteous suffering” is explained as follows: There are no new souls in our generation. They have all been in this world once or many times before. And if it so happens that a person had sinned in this previous life and, after his departure, G–d had mercy upon him, he is lowered again to this world in order to pay for his sin and cleanse his soul. Therefore, it is possible that height become righteous and honest. Fulfilling equally the small and large commandments, yet he could still suffer because of t he sins of his previous life.
  3. By what has been previously said we are establishing without doubt that the righteous man suffers and the wicked prospered. However, many of our ancestors cast doubts, whether what we see as good and evil is in fact so. The source of this opinion comes from our sages, and we will explain it in detail. Let us begin from the verse in Genesis I, v. 31. “And G–d saw everything He made, and behold it was very good.” The Commentator comments on it as follows: At first glance, everything we see in this world is seen with our eyes. At first glance, every thing we see in this world is seen with our eyes. We do not know if the bad we see or the good is absolute, because we see only what happens now but we cannot see the consequences of these events. Therefore, we cannot judge whether it is good or bad. What we consider bad may result in good.
[Page 274]

And G–d saw what he made means G–d who sees and can look until the end of the generations. He can see everything he made, not part of it. “Behold it was very good.” G–d knows that everything is very good. “Day unto day pours forth speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.” It happens that you are full of wonderment and question about the Divine's ways and you cannot understand the phenomenon of daily life which seems to you as an obscure puzzle, but you have to realize that the “day of the future will eventually come in place of the ”day” which has passed. “Pours forth speech” means that the day of the future will explain, interpret, and reveal knowledge about the “night” of today and tomorrow. It will expose the obscure and remove the doubts. Many occurrences are so obscure that they do not make sense and are not logical. You see only obscure lines but, “At the end of the world is the solution.” End of the world means in the far future. “This world is not as in the hereafter.” In this world you say blessings on good tidings and on bad, but in the hereafter there is only the best. Why? Because in this world our lives are short and we cannot see the end results of bad things, but in the hereafter, where the end results became known, that is where everything is good and beneficial.

“And Joseph shall put his hands upon thine eyes.” (Gen. XLII, v. 4) When Jacob's sons sold their brother Joseph to the Ishmaelites, it was a big event in that period, a horrible tragedy to our Father Jacob from which he refused to be consoled. However, the future showed that this tragedy became a great source of happiness because “G–d considered it a favor.” “And Joseph shall put his hand upon his eyes” means that the misfortune of Joseph showed that humans are short–sighted and cannot see the end of G–d's intentions. As it is said: “Man's days are short and filled with wrath.” (Job XII, v. 1.) Since man is short–lived, he cannot see the shaping of history to the end. Therefore, he is full of rage and bitterness. (According to the book Wisdom and Morals.)

How precious are the words of Reb Moshe the Scribe, the author of Chatam Soifer who explains that: “And thou shalt see my back but my face shall not be seen,” means that G–d's ways are visible but are only understood later, a long time after the fact. But, when these events occur, they are not understood and often times seem strange and unjust, Heaven forbid. On the phenomenon of the treatment by G–d of the righteous and the wicked which sometimes undermines the belief in G–d, Rabbi Aaron Levin of blessed memory, may G–d avenge his blood, commented on “Let me see I beseech you, Thy glory?” What was G–d's response? “I will cause all my goodness to pass before they face,” which meant that G–d will show Moses all the facts as they occur in their entirety, and it will prove to you that, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.” Because I have mercy for those who need mercy, and I am gracious to those who need graciousness.

Rabbi Yanai said it in one and succinct sentence. “We cannot pass judgment about the welfare of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous.” Wise men do not ponder a problem which they cannot solve completely.

However, all that we have heretofore discussed has concerned individual

[Page 276]

righteous men. The matter is entirely different when we approach the dreadful chapter of the Holocaust. The words “Six Million” hang in the air before our eyes, engraved with letters of blood, fire, and clouds of smoke from the furnaces and gas chambers, in which they were tortured and died. The parents, wives, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, millions of people from the House of Israel!!!!! The horror of the Holocaust to which there is no similarity in all the chains of terrible persecutions which have followed our hunted people during close to two thousand years of dispersion–there is no explanation for it. And, although we are forbidden to question the virtues of G–d, blessed be He, surely every believing Jew ought to think that G–d is right. We should not proclaim, as, to our sorrow and shame, extreme Orthodox Jews proclaim, that this was a punishment from Heaven for our sins! Even though G–d is righteous, we should not denounce our purified martyrs. As it is said in Deuteronomy XII, v. 7. “Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your G–d.” On which the commentator Rim comments, “Do not say yes to your Lord your G–d, and do not justify every tribulation.”

Here is what Rabbi Yehuda said about the quotation in Jeremiah IX, v. 9. “Who is the wise man who understood why we lost our homeland” This question was asked the sages, the Prophets, and the angels, and nobody seemed to be able to explain why, until G–d himself gave the explanation, as it is written: “And G–d said because they abandoned my Torah.” At the outset those words seem puzzling: What is the difficulty in answering the question why was the land lost? That the sages, the Prophets, and the angels could not answer. Essentially, every child who studies in school, if asked why we lost our land would answer, because Israel sinned. So, why didn't the sages and the rest of them explain it? A deep thought is hidden in Rabbi Yehuda's words. He wanted to point out that the sorrow and humiliation of the sages was so great and the embitterment so strong that, despite the fact that they believed and knew that G–d is righteous and His judgment is just, they did not want to openly justify the destruction. They could not restraint heir distress and say that the Jewish people deserved such a harsh punishment. They did not dare to accuse Israel and, therefore, they did not answer that question.

Only the Holy, blessed be He, He himself could have said, “Because they abandoned my Torah.” Nobody else could have said it. No sage, no Prophet, and not even an angel. And if somebody would challenge this and say: If, on one hand, we are obligated to admit that G–d is just, and, on the other hand, not to justify the Holocaust, then, does this mean we should not think about the holocaust altogether, and it should be forgotten? To this we will respond and say: Heaven forbid! Such a thing will not take place among the Jews. On the contrary, the horror of the Holocaust cannot disappear from before our eyes – not even for one second. If we forget, we will add another Holocaust to the original Holocaust. It would be a sin to ourselves and our nation. Let us explain this subject.

When trouble befall an individual or upon a whole nation, there is, in addition to the negative, also a positive side. As it is written:

[Page 276]

“Tribulations cleans all the sins from man.” (Talmud, tractate Brachot, page, 5) Tribulations awaken man from his sleep and urge him to recount his deeds, and to ask himself: “Why?” Why did it happen? What were the reasons for it? And, if he keeps pondering his question continuously and if it brings him to draw the true moral and the rightful conclusion, corrects what needs to be corrected, and he does not continue in the previous mistakes, this is considered the positive side of the tribulations. But, if afflictions do not wake man up, do not cause him to recount his deeds, and are not a factor and a strong lever to pick him up from his slump, from the life that he lived until now, then they were only empty pains that did not produce any positive results.

The conclusion that we derive from the above is as follows: Not to preach publicly about sins connected with the Holocaust, but every individual should think of himself and ask himself why and do some soul searching. Then he will find many answers to his questions.

Everyone should beat his own chest and not the chest of others. And that is the right conclusion and the proper moral. Everyone who does not want to holocaust which befell our people to have occurred in vain, should remember: “And I shall see the Holocaust before mine eyes forever.”

Remembrance and Forgetfulness

By Samuel Nachum Frenkel, Toronto
son of Esther, the daughter of Reb Shlomo Diamand from Zyznow

According to medical science the process of forgetfulness is a natural process which accompanies the mortal from the day of his birth until he leaves this world.

Just as the parts of the body degenerate and lose their vitality with the approach of old age, so do the brain cells and many nerves become rigid and weaken the memory.

However, when parts of the body degenerate, they express themselves in all types of diseases which interrupts the normal function of mankind and causes pain. There are symptoms which serve as a warning that healing action is needed. But with forgiveness, this is not so.

Forgetfulness is free of any symptoms, and the body does not feel any pain or discomfort. There are certain forms of mental illness for which forgetfulness is a remedy. It is well known that physicians of the psychoanalysis school of thought inject the mentally ill with special drugs to hasten their forgetfulness and to rehabilitate to a normal life.

Yet, if forgetfulness is a blessing to an individual, it is a curse and a tragedy for society. “REMEMBER, DO NOT FORGET” is a warning with which our Torah is replete, is addressed to the whole nation in general because forgetfulness means the kiss of death. Therefore, the people needed harsh warnings against it. Contrast this to the quotation “A promise is made to the deceased that he will be forgotten from the heart.” Without this promise the Jewish individual who painfully remembers the past could not find the energy to begin building a new life. Then came

[Page 277]

Samuel Nachum Frenkel,
Toronto, Canada

[Page 278]

the eternal commandment, “Remember” which warns the people not to expel from their heart the memory of the holy martyrs of our nation and to eradicate the memory of the Amalekite.

May the memory of the holy martyrs be blessed and their souls be forever bonded in the bond of life with the martyrs of all generations.


« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Strzyzow, Poland     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2024 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 11 Aug 2015 by JH