The brightest light in the darkest place

http://unitedwithisrael.org/the-holocaust-picture-that-offended-facebook/

To me, the point is not that Facebook flagged the photo, or why, or people’s reactions. To me, the biggest deal is not even the photo itself. Thank you Esther, for bringing this photo to my attention, and thank you Miriam, for adding light to a dark world. To me, the point is in Miriam’s own words, quoted by her father, who is quoted at the above link. For the remainder of the article, see their website.

As I searched for an applicable quote to close off this posting in honour of Yom HaShoah, I realized that a very appropriate quote would be the following excerpt from my daughter Miriam’s diary of her recent trip to the death camps of Poland:

“Today was kind of a gap day… The fill in day… And yet, it was one of the saddest days of my trip to Poland…

“Today, we visited a mass grave. Yes, on this program, we’ve been to many and I never cried at any of them. Not as much as I cried here. You see, this mass grave is different… This mass grave holds 700 children. Yes, you heard me… Children.

“Alone, frightened and clinging to whatever family they had with them, if they even had any left to cling to… Nazis shot them… The children… And for what? Because they couldn’t produce… They were useless to the Reich and so, they were shot… Murdered…

“These sweet children… Gone. No longer can we hear their sweet laughter or small feet dancing. No longer can we see the smiles on their faces or the innocent look in their beautiful eyes… Children that didn’t have the chance to live; to become and live their dreams. Stolen from us by the worst animal of all…

“I sat motionless at that mass grave. What else was I able to do? I was barely able to hold my head up… It hurt me more than anything. I don’t think there was one person on our program that didn’t shed a tear when we stood there listening to our rabbi talk about his family and how these children must have felt in their last moments…

“Then he did something I will remember forever.

“He said to us, “These children never got a chance to see the holy land or let alone be buried there. We should give them that chance…” He then proceeded to pick up a box full of dirt. “This,” he said, “is from my backyard. This is soil from Israel. If they can’t be buried in Israel, then we will bring Israel to them. Their light will forever live inside us. Whoever wants, can come take a hand full of soil and sprinkle it over the grave.”

“We all stood around him, frozen. We literally were frozen in place and suddenly I saw a hand reach out and take a handful of dirt and when the hand touched the soft soil, I realized that the hand was mine.

“I looked at the Rabbi and just for a moment, our eyes met. I guess it was a kind of comfort for me… I walked over to the grave and soon others did the same. I looked over that blue painted fence and in my mind, as I held that soil for just a moment longer, the shabbat blessing that a father and mother gives their child came to my mind. Over and over it ran through my head as I watched the wind scatter the soil across the grave.

“Tears just fell freely and all I was able to do was sit there as tears just kept falling. I was frozen at the fact that they were all gone… For no reason other than hatred… These beautiful children are the light in the darkness and their light will forever live on through me and through every breath I take. These children play at the foot of G-d’s Kiseh Hakavod [throne] now.

“Take care of them for me, please… They are with You now.”

– Miriam Ciss, March 27, 2015, Poland

Thank you for sharing these words with us. Though deeply personal, they have something to teach the entire world. Thank you for teaching us a lesson from history, so that we never repeat it. May this bring merit to the children’s memories, all 700 and 1 of them.

Yom Ha’Zikaron

We just watched a video of the funeral of one of the soldiers who was killed this summer during the war. One soldier. One soldier, a huge void in the world. And there are sixty six more. And all the civilians. And the people who’ve died to terror attacks, unspeakable tragedies that should never have happened.

If G-d allowed it to happen, then it must be good. Why does it hurt so much?

For me, it’s not just human pain, but guilt. These are the pains before Moshiach, but they are not inevitable. They are to wake us up and bring us together. If we were already there, the pain we now feel, the pain of mothers and fathers and sisters and fiancees and brothers and wives and children, might not have happened.

Maybe this is what G-d intended. Guilt, however crushing, is not the answer.

All we need to do is to remember the pain. Remember how we feel when our nation is attacked. Remember that pain every time you forget the value a single soul has. Remember this pain EVERY TIME you encounter another Jew. Treat them as though the fate of the world, the fate of every human being, rests on how you treat this person.

Because it does.