What is between Holocaust, heroism and independence?

Some thoughts about the days that a part mournful and part celebration of the indestructibility of the Jewish heart and soul.

Phil Chernofsky,

Israeli flags waving
Israeli flags waving
Flash 90

A day to remember the Holocaust is a very sad day, to be sure. And maybe those who wanted Tish'a b'Av to take on the extra duty (which it does with special Holocaust kinot added to the traditional ones) and/or Asara b'Tevet had the right idea - IF we were talking only about remembering the Holocaust.

Perhaps, also, in addition to the mourning is the devastating feeling that the Jews were led to slaughter without resistance. Certainly, some of the people in the early years of the State, were a little embarrassed when their minds compared the wandering Jew to the ones who have returned to their Land, have a government, and an army to be proud of.

This might have been the impetus to add on the the name of the day, the G'vura - strength, courage, heroism, of those, such as the fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising... That was the main reason for choosing the date of 27 Nissan.

Two more points:

There is another form of G'VURA - a spiritual one. Rabbi Ephraim Oshry z"l was a young rabbi in the Kovno ghetto. He survived and has written about the many hard and unique halachic questions and issues he dealt with. His work is several volumes long and has been condensed into a single English volume called: Responsa from the Holocaust.

In a secret minyan in the ghetto, the Shaliach Tzibur broke down crying and refused to say the bracha of SHELO ASANI EVED, thanking G-d for our not being slaves. Rabbi Oshri assured him and all the other daveners that physical slavery was not the issue. By the mere fact that the people risked their lives to gather to daven was a sign of being spiritually free.

A number of Jews who worked in a factory outside the ghetto, stole and smuggled a supply of wood to build a Sukka in a seldom used alleyway. They asked the Rav if they were allowed to use it since the boards were stolen. Rather than telling them that they would certainly be exempt from the mitzva of Sukka because of their situation, he treated the question itself and posited that the Nazis stole the wood from the owners of local lumber yards, many of whom were Jewish and had most definitely given up hope of the return of their property. This is G'VURA.

And here's a thought I never entertained before. The day is part mournful and part celebration of the indestructibility of the Jewish heart and soul.




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