Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: MOADIM Category:KINOS Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Wed, 12 Aug 2020 03:00:00 +0000 240 Kinos 25-27: Crusades, Yirmiyahu & The Avos, The Mysterious Women
25.  Mi Yitein Eini - Another Kinah over the fallen communities of the first crusade by Rav Klonimus specifically over the communities of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz.  They fell in the months of Iyar and Sivan including on Shavuos over which  Rav Klonimus laments that on the day we are supposed to receive the Torah it was taken instead.
26.  Az Bahaloch Yirmiyahu Al Kivrei Avos - Yirmiyahu awakens the Avos, Imahos, and Moshe and pleads with them to beseech Hashem on behalf of Klal Yisroel their children to avoid the Churban.  Hashem rejects each plea but promises them that He will eventually fulfill their request and that the day will come when they will be restored to their former glory.
27.  Az Bimlos Sefek Yafa KaTirtza - When the Churban finally happens after years of Chait and no tshuva, Yirmiyahu leaves the Bais HaMikdash and sees a most beautiful woman dressed in such dirty clothing that he is not sure what to make of her.  Is she a person or scary Malach?  He finally forces her to reveal her identity and she is Knesses Yisroel which possess unparalleled raw beauty but has covered itself in the filth of sin.  She urges Yirmiyahu to intercede and stop the impending doom that is about to strike Klal Yisroel.

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Kinos 21-23: Asara Harugei Malchus, Crusades, The Son & Daughter Of Rebbi Yishmael Kohen Gadol
21.  Arzei HaLevanon - This is a very brief account of the Asara HaRugei Malchus was written by Meir ben Yechiel.  Over the years a number of lines got lost and therefore only eight names are mentioned out of the ten.  A much more detailed account in found in Selichos of Mussaf of Yom Kippur.
Rav Shimshon Pincus explains that the reason for its inclusion in Kinos is that when these tzaddikim lived they brought so much good to the world that people did not long for the Bais HaMikdash.  There deaths are therefore directly tied to mourning for the Bais HaMikdash which needs to be done under all circumstances no matter how good things seem to be.
22.  Hacharishu Mimeni - This is a tribute to the Kehilos that were brutally massacred by the first crusade in 4856/1096 in Germany and France.  The Kina describes how the pure unwavering Yidden refused Baptism and happily chose death at the hands of the brutal mob.  The Kina also laments the great Gedolim that were killed and the blow to Torah scholarship and to the masses hungry to hear Torah that was silenced with the sword.
23.  V’Es Navi Chatasi describes the heartbreaking story of the son and daughter of Rebbi Yishmael Kohen Gadol.  The beauty and strength of the Bnei Yerushalayim is often discussed although we cannot fathom it.  So much more so for the children of the Kohen Gadol.  The two of them were captured and sold as slaves to two neighbors unbeknownst to each other. 
When the neighbors learn of the others slave they decide to throw them in a room together to produce more such slaves and split the children.  The Kinah described the anguish of each one them and how low they have fallen.  When they recognize each other at the light of dawn they embrace and their pure souls leave their bodies and ascend to Shamayim.

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Kinos 16-20: Titus, Guilty Party
16.  Zichor Es Asher Asa Tzar B’Pinim - Remember what the enemy Titus did inside the walls of the Bais HaMikdash.    In a place so holy that unworthy people who entered were devoured by Hashem’s fires, how was Titus able to arrogantly rampage through and commit despicable acts and leave alive?  This Kina describes Titus’s bold actions and the shock of the onlookers as they witnessed Hashem silence in the face of unprecedented Chilul Hashem.
17-20.  These four Kinos go together as they are a dialogue between hashem and Bnei Yisroel about the Churban and who is the real aggrieved party.  In Kina 17 Alilai Li we describe the terrible tzoros of Klal Yisroel during the Churban.  We describe the starvation and the cruelty with which parents and children ate each other among other tragedies.  At the end Hashem asks, why do you describe what I have brought upon you without saying what you did to cause this.
In 18 V’Ata Amarta we tell of the glorious miracles and promises, all the hopes and dreams that  Hashem had for us that now ended in death and destruction.  We end the Kinah by saying that nevertheless Hashem was right and just and we are to blame for all that has befallen us and we ask why we lament and complain when this was all our own doing.
In 19 Licha Hashem HaTzedaka V’Lanu Boshes HaPanim we contrast Hashem’s Chesed with our misdeeds.  At every step of the way, whether at Krias Yam Suf, Matan Torah, or the conquest of Eretz Yisroel, at the very moment Hashem was showing His love we were sinning against HIm. 
Despite all this, in Kina 20 we ask Hashem, Hatei Elokai Aznecha.  Please turn your attention and see what has become of us.  Listen to what the nations say about us and what they plot against us.  See our suffering and see our disgrace and please come save us and avenge the crimes against your children.  Reveal yourself and command respect once again.

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Kinos 11-14: Yoshiyahu HaMelech, Eicha, Destined To Be Destroyed
11.  Eicha Eli Koninu MeiEilav - This is a tribute to Yoshiyahu who despite being the scion of Kings who worshipped Avodah Zara, he cleaned up Eretz Yisroel and returned Bnei Yisroel to Tshuva.  Unfortunately he did not know that the roots of Avodah were so strong that many people still secretly worshipped Avodah Zara.  Therefore when Paroh Nicho asked for permission to take his army through Eretz Yisroel to fight an enemy in the North, Yoshiyahu denied his request, despite Yirmiyahu’s warning,  because he believed that Bnei Yisroel was free of Avodah Zara and no army would even pass through his land.  Yoshiyahu was killed with 300 spears piercing his holy body but his last words, "Tzadik Hashem Ki Pihu Marisi”, Hashem is righteous for I have rebelled against his word.
Yirmiyahu dedicated the fourth Perek of Eicha to Yoshiyahu and Rebbi Eliezer HaKalir writes this Piyut in the order of the Aleph Bais with the first word of each stanza from the fourth perek of Eicha.
13.  Ei Koi - The Medrash says that Eicha is a combination of 2 words “Ei” and “Koi”.  The pasuk Asks Eicha or Ei Koi, what happened to the promise to Avrohom Avinu of Koi Yihiyeh Zaracha.  In this Kina Rebbi Eliezer HaKalir, following the order of the Aleph Bais, goes through all the promises and all the salvations that happened to Bnei Yisroel with the word Koi including Birchas Kohanim, the separation of the Levi’im, and the conquest of Yericho among others, and asks how did this all turn against us?
14.  Eicha Es Asher Kvar Asahu - In this Kina Rebbi Eliezer HaKalir asks how is it that the Churban Bais HaMikdash was decreed before the world even existed yet we shoulder the burden and the blame?  He goes through the pasukim that allude to the destruction starting early in Bereishis with the words “V’HaAretz Haysa Sohu VaVohu", and through Hashem’s revelations to Avrohom and Yaakov Avinu among others.  This Kina follows the order of the Aleph Bais starting with words from the second Perek of Eicha.

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
A Brief Overview Of Select Kinos - Introduction & 6 - 10
The inyan of Kinos on Tisha B’av is to make us cry, to make us long, and to make us think.  They are made to wake us from our deep slumber and realize the disaster we live in.    To make us stop and think for at least a few brief hours every year.  The saddest part about the galus is that we do not even realize how bad it is and what we are missing without our Bais HaMikdash.  While we were once the greatest people on earth, over the centuries and millennia we have developed a slave mentality.   If we have relative material comforts and peace off mind, we think we are living in paradise.  Even when we feel the pain of life, we only feel it on a very personal and very shallow level.
True paradise was when the Bais HaMikdash stood.  We had Kirvas Elokim, a closeness to Hashem.  This brought with it incredible  material as well as spiritual happiness.  The Vilna Gaon said that he can relate to what it meant to live in the days of the Rishonim and even the Tannaim and Amora’im, but he cannot fathom what it was like, to be even a simple Jew, in the times of the Bais HaMikdash.  The Shechina was palpable and it touched every single Yid’s life.
The Kinos are a collections of Piyutim describing the glory of the Bais HaMikdash and the pain of its destruction.  What we had and what we lost.  It also touches on some of the Tzaros we’ve experienced since then, as they are all a result of the Churban and its ensuing Galus with Hashem’s Hester Panim or hidden presence, as opposed to His revealed presence.
As the Kinos are written in eloquent prose with many unfamiliar words ,it is often hard to even get the gist of what each particular kinah is referring to.  We hope that a brief description will help put you on track and help you to take a closer look and experience the real feeling of saying Kinos.
6.  Shavas Suru - Rebbi Eliezer HaKalir describes how even the Bavlim understood that our power came from Hashem.  When they saw a breach in our relationship they took advantage and made sure to drive a wedge in it so that we would not do tshuvah and return to our glory.
Each of the stanzas begin with the first word from the last eight psukim of Eicha and end with a pasuk from Eicha.  It follows the order of the Aleph Bais starting with Samech and repeating each letter 6 times.
7.  Eicha Atzta - We ask Hashem how even if he needed to punish us, he abandoned us and delivered us to the hands of a cruel and bitter people.  Each stanza begins with the burning question Eicha, how?  It then follows by asking why Hashem did not remember one of our Zechusim including Bris Bain HaBesarim, Matan Torah, Degalim and so on.  Each one asks in a different expression following the order of the Aleph Bais and ending Zchor Hashem Meh Haya Lanu.
8.  Aadeh Ad Chug Shamayim - My pain will fly to the heights of Heaven.  We describe our terrible pain, anguish, and despair over the Churban and the Galus.  Rebbi Eliezer HaKalir wrote this in order of At Bash, with Tuf following Aleph, Shin following Bais and so on.  Each stanza ends with a request based on a pasuk asking “Mi” or who will...? 
10.  Eicha Yashva Chavatzeles HaSharon - This Kina has twenty four stanzas, and each one laments one of the 24 Mishmeres Kehuna, the families of Kohanim that served on a rotational basis each week of the year.  Rebbi Eliezer HaKalir writes this in the order of the Aleph Bais with each stanza opening with a pasuk from the first perek of Eicha.

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Kinos 24 - The Son & Daughter Of Rebbi Yishmael Kohen Gadol With my sins the Bais HaMikdash was laid to waste
This tragedy makes tears run down my cheek in great haste
The thought of one particular event surpasses almost every other one
That story of Rebbi Yishmael Kohen Gadol's daughter and son

V'Ahima MiYamim Yamima!

To two different owners who were neighbors they were sold as slaves
To each other about their new possession each one did rave
From the captured Jews a beautiful maidservant I did buy
Her beauty and radiance lights up the night sky

V'Ahima MiYamim Yamima!

Well said his neighbor I bought a Jewish young man fit and trim
The light of his eyes makes the midday son appear dim
Why don't we match them together and the offspring we will divide
Then they set into action their intentions they did not hide

V'Ahima MiYamim Yamima!

That night the two were locked in a room with no way to escape
The owners waited outside both of them happy with their fate
The two holy youths inside, each in their corner cried bitter tears
Taken from the glory of Yerushalayim to the lowest level of despair

V'Ahima MiYamim Yamima!

The descendant of Aharon with a maidservant for his bride?
The daughter of Yocheved marry a lowly slave, she sat there and cried
When the morning light came, they saw one another
Alas my sister, behold my brother!

V'Ahima MiYamim Yamima!

They hugged and rejoiced from the depths of their heart
Their holy neshamos at once, their bodies did depart
Over stories like this Yirmiyahu did lament
Over the Churban and its aftermath every heart is rent

V'Ahima MiYamim Yamima!

(Based On Kinah 23)

Thu, 30 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Kinos 21: Rav Shimshon Pincus - The World Always Needs Something To Cry About

When the Romans were skinning alive the head of Rebbi Yishmael the second of the Asara Harugei Malchus he let out a scream as they skinned the place of his tefilin shel rosh. Upon hearing this scream the Malachim cried "Zu Torah V'zu Scara"; is this the reward for Torah? Hashem answered the malachim that if they say one more word he will destroy the world and turn it back to "Tohu VaVohu". What is the meaning of this strange dialogue? Why the threat? The Malachim asked a valid question.

Rav Shimshon Pincus explains that just like the world cannot exist for one second without Torah being learned somewhere across the globe so too regarding Tefila. Tefila is also one of the pillars of the world. If a Jew is not crying out to Hashem in some distant corner of the world at every given moment the world will cease to exist.

During the times of the Asara Harugei Malchus the Jews had a unique situation. They had ten tzaddikin for leaders, the likes that had not been seen since the days of the 10 Shevatim. They learned torah in bliss and they did not yearn for the Bais HaMikdash. They had nothing to cry about. They were completely dedicated to the Torah and Hashem. Realizing the danger Hashem decided that he must not only put an end to this situation before the world is destroyed from lack of tefila but also that the absence of the Bais HaMikdash is not a guarantee for constant tears. Hashem had to devise an event so cruel to ensure that the mere remembrance of it would cause streams of tears to swell from even the most hardened heart.

When the Malachim complained about the utter cruelty of the murder of the Asara Harugei Malchus, Hashem answered that without this event the world will at some point cease to exist from lack of Tefila.

Even us, who because of our ignorance of what the Bais HaMikdash means to us have a hard time getting choked up about the Churban Bais HaMikdash, need something to cry about. Think hard and concentrate on Kina 21 Arzei haLevanon. It may be the best chance we have to fulfill the main purpose of our fast; to let loose a few wet tears.

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Kinos 17: Exalted Jews To The Altar, Not Lambs To The Slaughter Kina 17 bemoans some of the atrocities that took place during the Churban, the murder, the hunger, the torture.  It bemoans the cruelty of Nevuchadnetzar who tied the hair of the members of the Sanhedrin hair to the tails of horses and then ran the horses at full speed from Yerushalayim all the way to Lod, dragging and bumping these tzaddikim to a cruel and humiliating death.

Rav Notta Schiller speaks about the courage and dignity of Am Yisroel during the Holocaust.  No he says, we did not go as lambs to the slaughter weak and broken people, like we are accused of.  We did not go broken spirited and lowered to the status of animals as the Nazis intended it.  We went as exalted people, even in death, standing head and shoulders above our tormentors.

Hearing this reminded me of a story submitted a while ago by Daniel Hadar, which he saw in Ivdu Et Hashem B'Simcha, R' Yaakov Celnik, 13.7.  The story took place many years ago in a small Polish town. A time when pogroms against the Jews were so frequent, that it came as no surprise when this town became the target of a frenzied crowd. To keep the atmosphere charged, a mock "court" was set up to try several Jews for alleged crimes committed against society and the state. Among those charged, was a beautiful young woman with long black hair. Sitting up straight in her chair, she heard the verdict pronounced: Guilty! The 'court' took some time deciding how she would die. Finally, a decision -- her beautiful, long hair would be tied to the tail of a wild stallion. The stallion would then be run through the streets, wildly kicking the girl as she was being dragged along the rock strewn streets.

Sitting next to her, was her best friend, a married young woman. Hearing what was to be the main attraction, the highlight of the day's events, the friend broke into uncontrollable sobbing. Calmly, the girl turned to her friend. She spoke softly, “Give me two of your hat pins.” Bewildered, the friend could only stutter, “But why?”  "Please, give them to me, now!" Mesmerized, the friend took two hat pins and handed them over. Quietly, and quickly she took a hat pin and dug it through her skirt -- deep into her leg. She then did the same thing to her other leg. And now her friend understood. Amazed, that upon hearing of the horrible death that this innocent young girl would soon be facing, she thought only of maintaining her modesty. The pins were to prevent her skirt from rising as the stallion was dragging her!

We can be broken in body, but Am Yisroel was never about the body.  We are a nation of exalted spirit. Even after two thousand years, our spirit will not be broken. The more the body is decimated, the higher the spirit can rise.  We were, and always will be, victorious.  Mi Ki’Amcha Yisroel Goy Echad BaAretz!

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Kinos 31: It's Not Who You Are But Where You Are Headed

It is hard for us to fathom but during the times of the churban Bais HaMikdash Am Yisroel were Tzaddikim. During the first Churban the Navi posed the question of why was the Basi HaMikdash destroyed. No one was able to answer it says the gemara, until Hashem himself answered that it was because although they learned Torah they did not show it the honor it deserved. During the second Basi HaMikdash they were tzaddikim but they displayed sinas chinam.

In Kina 31 we contrast Yetzias Mitzrayim with all its pomp and glory and countless miracles with Yetzias Yerushalayim and all its pain, humiliation, and desecration. When we left Mitzrayim we were an unruly slave nation that has long way to go before becoming a nation of princes; Am Yisroel. So while we were good Jews in the times of the Churban and were punished terribly why was it that when we left Mitzrayim we were treated so well?

At the point of Yetzias Mitrayim although we were diamonds in the rough we had shown great potential to become the Am HaNivchar. True we were idol worshippers, but we slayed the great Egyptian god, the lamb, with great mesirtas nefesh. We also showed potential to be faithful by leaving Mitzrayim to follow Hashem into a harsh wilderness. We were headed in the right direction and Hashem showered us with kindness to help us along to our ultimate destination Har Sinai.

When we left Yerushalayim we were still on a very high spiritual level but the underlying fabric of our greatness had been torn, however slightly. We were speeding towards disaster with no brakes. By punishing us before reaching the breaking point Hashem spared the Jewish people. The gemara says that had we stayed in Eretz Yisroel another two years we would have been completely wiped out. The Churban was actually a great favor. Sometimes you can hurt yourself quite badly when you make a violent short stop, but it will ultimately save your life.

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Courage Of The Skulener Rebbe

At the beginning of the Communist control in the Soviet Union, many Jews tried to flee to Romania. Once in Romania, the possibility existed of escaping to other countries, and even to Eretz Yisrael. However, the risk was not minimal; anyone caught trying to escape from the Soviet Union was either executed or exiled to Siberia, a fate sometimes worse than death. Russian soldiers were posted on the border to minimize the chances of anyone escaping.

During this era, R' Eliezer Zussia of Skulen lived in Chernowitz which was close to the border, and he constantly risked his life to help Jews who were caught escaping from Russia. The colonel in charge of the border guard was visited more than once by the Rebbe to beg for his intervention in releasing these Jews. Once, when R' Eliezer visited the colonel once again on a mission of mercy, the colonel blew up. "I've had enough of you and your pleas! If I see you here again begging for these criminals, I'll kill you!"

Shortly later, a large Jewish family was caught trying to escape across the border. This time, R' Eliezer tried to utilize other means to release them, including bribing other officials in power, but to no avail The colonel was the only one with the power to release the family. R' Eliezer's family was afraid for his life and reasoned with him that he wasn't obligated to risk his life, but the Rebbe did not agree. The colonel had threatened him but it was not a certainty that he would carry out his threat. However, the fate of the family was certain death or exile if nobody interceded for them.

R' Eliezer bravely approached the colonel once again, and the colonel's reaction was not a calm one. He became furious, and threw the Rebbe down a flight of steps. The Rebbe was injured, but managed to pick himself up. Unbelievably, he did not despair and decided to brave the colonel's wrath once again. He gingerly dragged his aching body up the steps and knocked on the colonel's door again. The colonel was astounded to see him again, and this time, he actually remained calm. The hardened colonel could not help but be moved by the Rebbe's courage and sacrifice, and he agreed to release the family. (Source: Stories My Grandfather Told Me)

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000

Yirmiyahu cries over the senseless death of the great Tzaddik, Yoshiyahu Hamelech. Despite descending from a long line of Kings who served Avodah Zara, Yoshiyahu says Yirmiyahu, rid Eretz Yisroel of Avodah Zara and his actions were unparalleled since the days of Moshe Rabbeinu. Because of the mass tshuvah movement the he started he believed in the bracha of the Torah that no army, even friendly, will enter Eretz Yisroel.

When Paroh Necho of Mitzrayim asked permission to pass through Eretz Yisroel to wage war, Yoshiayu relying on his assumptions without consulting Yirmiyahu, refused to grant his request. Paroh Necho them turned his army on Yoshiyahu and Yoshiyahu was killed in the ensuing war. What went wrong? The Navi tells us that while publicly there was no idol worship in private the evil had not been routed out and therefore the bracha of the Torah did not save Yoshiyahu.

While dying with his body pierced like a sieve by so many arrows, Yirmiyahu saw Yoshiyahu's lips muttering something. Nervous that he was speaking against Hashem for letting him down Yirmiyahu moved closer to hear what he saying. "Tzaddik Hu Hashem Ki Pihu Marisi"; Hashem is righteous, we rebelled against his wishes. The saintly Yoshiyahu, even with his dying breath and not knowing the full story of how he was betrayed by the nation, nevertheless give Hashem the benefit of the doubt and blames himself!

The fourth Perek of Eicha was written by Yirmiyahu as a tribute to Yoshiyahu and he refers to him as "Ruach Apeinu Moshiach Hashem."

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Kinos 4: The Big Debate Between Yerushalayim and Shomron

Many years prior to the Churban Bais HaMikdash the Aseres HaShevatim were sent into Galus by the King of Ashur Tiglas Pileser otherwise known as Sancherev. Yirmiyahu successfully returned some of the Aseres HaShevatim who then became part of Malchus Yehuda but by and large most of them never returned.

In Kinos 4 Yerushalayim and Shomron each aruge who suffered more. Shomron bemoans the fact that inhabitants weres sent into Galus long before Yerushalayim. Yerushalayim cries that it was sent to galus twice and its Bais HaMikdash destroyed.

We ask Hashem to end this longstanding debate and pity both of them after the long and bitter galus.

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Eicha - We Are Orphans Without A Father

A child who has a father but doesn't ask his advise is for all practical purposes an orphan since his actions and decisions are taken without any paternal influence. His advantage over a real orphan is that if he should wisen up he still has somewhere to turn. Not so a an orphan without a father.

Before the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash there was an Urim V'Tumim to ask our questions to. Unfortunately we didn't bother asking and just did as we pleased. After the Churban the Urim V'Tumim was taken away from us and we had no one to turn to.

This is pshat in the pasuk (5:3) says Rav Chaim Kanievsky "Yesomim Hayinu V'Ein Av". Before the Churban we were Yesomim although we had a father to ask, the Urim V'Tumim. Now that it has been taken away we are orphans without a father and are bereft of any possible fatherly advice.

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Eicha: A True Jew Is A Respected Jew

Historically there was a time when many people in the Roman Empire converted to Judaism. Judaism received an immense amount of respect. It seemed like everybody wanted to be a Jew. Antoninus the emperor, Unkelos who was Titus's great nephew, and many other important people and common people as well. New religions were being formed that mimicked Judaism. Why was this so?

Back then we had our own original culture and looked to no one for identity. We looked inside our own heritage, living every aspect of our lives by the Torah. We took nothing from no one and we needed no outside ideas. This strength and confidence in our heritage caused people to take note and respect us. After doing objective research many people came to the conclusion that Judaism is indeed the real thing.

When we live our lives as if we prefer to be like the goyim, barely clinging to some basic outer garments of our religion, we are telling the world that we are committed in some fashion to our religion but we don't believe in it, we prefer their culture. When the goyim see our shame and lack of real adherence to our religion they scorn and mock us for desperately trying to hang on to a religion that seems to have gone by the wayside with no real relevance in the modern world.

Rav Shimshon Pincus in a different context explains that this is the pshat in the pasuk (1:8) "Kol Michabdeha Hiziluha Ki Ra'u Ervasa"; all those who honored us now disgrace us because they have seen the extent to which we are ashamed by our own religion.

Tue, 24 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
The Tzaddik Who Sent His Wife And Children To Siberia

Rav Dovid Mintzberg was thirty-two years old when he was chosen to fulfill the position of the mashgiach of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin. This position was formerly filled by the renowned R' Meir Shapiro, who passed away in his prime. R' Mintzberg was known for his genius and tziddkus, and was gifted in public speaking and education.

When the Germans arrived, R' Mintzberg and his family moved to Rutki-Kossaki, a town that was still under Russian control. For the time being, they were out of physical danger, but life under the Communists posed a new spiritual danger. The Communists' official policy was atheism, and practicing or learning about religion was strictly forbidden by law. The Russians insisted that all refugees had to become Russian citizens. R' Mintzberg was wary of the spiritual danger this would pose, and decided to refuse this ultimatum, despite his awareness of the possible ramifications.

One Friday night, while R' Mintzberg was learning in shul, Russian soldiers banged on the door and threatened the family with immediate exile to Siberia if they continued to refuse Russian citizenship. Exile to Siberia was often the equivalent of a death sentence as many people who were sent there did not survive. Rebbitzen Mintzberg sent someone to consult her husband, included in her question was also a warning. Rebbitzen Mintzberg wanted to make sure that her husband did not return home, at least he would be spared from being exiled. She made this decision despite its frightening implication for her, she would endure this ordeal alone. In addition, she carried the weighty responsibility of caring for her seven daughters, the oldest of who was only twelve, in a foreign and hostile land.

Rav Mintzberg wanted to join his family, but a good friend refused to allow him to leave the shul and fall in the hands of the Communists. However, he did manage to send a message to his wife that they should agree to be exiled to Siberia, even on Shabbos. Rebbitzen Mintzberg and her daughters were exiled to Siberia, bereft of their husband and father, and all of their worldly possessions.

R' Mintzberg remained alone in Poland. Eventually he sent for his son, who had been studying in Vilna. The Haskalah movement had been influencing many youngsters and R' Minzberg was afraid of his son's spiritual safety in Vilna. He preferred that his son join him in Poland, despite the physical danger, where he could protect him from negative spiritual influences.

When the fate of the Jews became clear, R' Mintzberg passed up an opportunity to try to save his life when partisans in the surrounding forest requested that he join them. R' Mintzberg preferred to remain with his community, and help prepare them for their death. During Elul, the Jews were forced to dig a mass grave. R' Mintzberg and his son's lasts words were "Shema Yisrael" as they were shot into the pit.

Rebbitzen Mintzberg and her daughters survived their ordeal in Siberia, and were able to leave Russia after the war was over. R' Mintzberg's decision had saved their lives.

Tue, 24 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Story: The Poor Feeding The Poor

During the Holocaust we find stories of amazing courage by previously ordinary people and hear sickening stories of the depths that people sink to. Desperate times call for desperate measures and people make tough decisions about how they will behave. Ask yourself, if you were there would you rise or fall to the occasion?

Yosef Friedenson wrote that one of the most pitiful sights in the Warsaw ghetto was the hordes of homeless children wandering around in rags, barefoot, with their stomachs swollen from hunger. They would wander the streets begging for "a pizele broit" (a crumb of bread). In those precarious times, no one had a crumb of bread to spare, and people hardened their hearts to the cries of these starved children. However, his father, Rabbi Eliezer Gershon Friedenson, the renowed askan, talmid chacham, ba'al chessed, and editor, could not ignore their cries. He would cut up little pieces of bread, wrap them up in paper, and throw them out the window. The news spread quickly that a "rich man" was giving away bread, and every night, a group of children would crowd around the window.

One evening as the children were starting to crowd around like they did every night, R' Friedenson started cutting up the last loaf of bread in the house. He handed out the whole loaf to the children. There was no bread left in the house for supper, or for breakfast the next day. There was no money in the house to buy more. When R' Friedenson realized what he had done, he did not show distress. Instead, he began humming an old Jewish song. "Oif Morgen vet G-tt sorgen- Let the Good G-d take care of tomorrow." He then sat down with his sons, Yosef, Shimshon, and Raphael, and gave them a shiur in Hilchos Tzeddakah. The main point of the shiur was that even the poor are obligated to give tzedakah.

The life of this spiritual giant, a man who literally gave away his last crumb of bread, was snuffed out by the Nazis in 1943. (Source: A Path Through the Ashes)

Tue, 24 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000