Rabbi saves Torah from fire: 'I was fulfilling a higher purpose'

After wildfire engulfs Cape Town University, campus rabbi jumps into action to save Torah and pairs of tefillin left behind.

Dan Verbin ,

Torah scroll
Torah scroll

As an out of control wildfire swept through the University of Cape Town in South Africa, a campus rabbi ran past the flames that were burning down nearby buildings to save a Torah and several pairs of tefillin that had been left in the Jewish studies building.

The wildfire had begun on Table Mountain above the university before spreading onto campus and enveloping a number of historical buildings. An evacuation order was issued. The roads leading to the campus and the area next door where the Chabad Samson Student Center are located were blocked off.

When he heard the news, Rabbi Nissen Goldman, who directs the Samson Student Center with his wife, jumped into action.

He found a way for a member of the Jewish community security organization to drive him through the security blocks in a medical emergency vehicle.

They drove to the Kaplan Center for Jewish Studies. Nearby buildings were on fire and partially destroyed. He ran into the Center and brought out the Torah and several pairs of tefillin which had been left behind by students fleeing the fire.

“I was fulfilling a higher purpose,” Goldman told news24.

“In retrospect, I realize how dangerous it was, but I felt that there really was no other option. I had to make an effort to salvage what I could, and the Talmud (Psachim 8:a) says that ‘agents carrying out a mitzvah are not harmed,'” he told Chabad.org/News.