This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is in the merit of an Aliya Neshama for Hannie Linsen (I apologize for not knowing her Hebrew name) who returned her soul to Hashem.
Hannie was born in Holland and was taken with her mother and family to Aushwitz. Hannie and her sister were the only survivors from her family. After liberation she spent some time in a hospital recovering from an infection she contracted in the camps, prior to starting the long road to building a new life. We had the privilege of getting to know Hannie when she moved into the same retirement village that my grandparents were in, in Somerset West, South Africa. In the last few years, Hannie moved to one of her sons in USA. Hannie is survived by 3 children and several grandchildren. May her Neshama receive a complete and speedy Aliya, strengthened by the fact that despite the horrors she faced, Hannie built a new life, leaving Jewish children and grandchildren, she was a special lady, soft spoken, creative with an amazing inner strength; may Hashem avenge the blood of her family.
How can one begin to prepare inspiring thoughts in light of losing a special Jew? This week was also Yom HaShoah and many may think how could this have happened? The horrors of what occurred during WW2 leave questions for which there are no answers. However, it also provides for us the incredible lesson of a Nation that lives by a different standard. Where the Germans and some other nations tried to annihilate us completely, tried to turn us into animals, we survived, leaving a long list of incredible mitzvos fulfilled within death camps. While Yemachshemo (Hitler) thought he was succeeding, countless Jews recited Shma while being lead to gas chambers, thus elevating their final moments. Jews like the Klassenberger Rebbe managed to fulfil all the mitzvos, laying Tefillin, not eating for 8 days in Aushwitz, despite being deprived of food, to make sure not to eat any chometz. A brave and courageous woman defied a German soldier by insisting on a knife, using it to bris her baby son, even in a death camp. These and many other stories shine through, demonstrating the incredible love of Am Yisrael for both Torah and Hashem. Though the generations who have come after the Shoah have been deeply affected, especially by the reactions and experiences of our parents or grandparents, the fact that Jewish children have continued is nothing short of a miracle. May we all merit the complete Redemption and unity and peace amongst all of Am Yisrael.
Shmiras HaLashon Thought
Since learning the laws of Guarding our Tongues helps to Hasten unity in Am Yisrael and Redemption perhaps an appropriate Hallachah to remember, in light of the Shoah, is "Beware lest you forget the Lord, Your G-d" (Devarim 8:11) In the Book Guard Your Tongue, Adapted from the Chofetz Chaim by Rabbi Pliskin, we learn that speaking ill of our fellow stems from arrogance, a feeling of being superior than our fellow. We are taught further that if we were aware of our own faults, we would not be so quick to put down others. The gravity of the transgression is increased if the person speaking Lashon Hara does so in order to elevate himself by putting down a fellow Jew.
Perhaps one sobering thought from the Shoah is that at the end of the day, we are all in it together. Once a Jew, always a Jew, hence if something as terrible as the Shoah or other events against Am Yisrael begin, we all face it together and are affected together. Hence, we are not one greater than the other but all very needed and important as the Large Family of Israel. May we all merit to speak and share only words of kindness, upliftment, prayer and blessing within the laws of Guarding our Tongues to, with and about our fellow Jew.
The Chofetz Chaim teaches a powerful lesson regarding the World Ecconomic Depression. "When there is an electrical problem, many forget the electric company and elect instead to poke around with various sharp items, thus risking a burn, electric shock or worse. In the same way, when faced with a life situation, many forget about G-d, the Creator of the World, Director of all and the One best equipped to help us out of the situation.
When a father strikes his son, he explains the reason to the young boy: "This punishment is for the wrong you did. And if you do so again, I will punish you again." In the time of our prophets, they would give similar admonitions to the Jewish people, warning them to change their ways and stop their corrupt acts. Warning them of potential punishments if they did not follow G-ds Laws.
In examining the world economic depression, let us be aware that G-d often executes a punishment in a form in which the sin can be inferred from the punishment. The Chofetz Chaim gives us a moral examination to the economic depression. The basic problem appears to be that there is no money. The question is where has the money gone? When the state of affairs is bad in one state and good in another, we can presume that the money went from one state to the second. Therefore the money circulated from the one place to the next. However, when the depression affects the whole world at the same time, there is no ordinary way to explain this or where the money went to. It certainly did not sink into the ground!
The answer is that the same amount of money as ever exists in the world today, perhaps even greater in quantity than the years of prosperity. One thing is missing, however: TRUST. No one trusts anyone else any longer. The basis of an economy is mutual trust including acts of kindness – one man should help another with his money matters.
The core problem is lack of Trust in Hashem. When we stop trusting G-d and His Laws, we stop trusting each other and the flow of abundance becomes clogged with animosity. Says the Chofetz Chaim, the anti-dote is to return to Hashem and His Torah, this would include learning laws of Business, extending kindness to ones fellow, setting up and proving interest free loans etc. Instead of pointing the blame at external causes, our avoda is to look inside, to correct the areas of our lives that are not in keeping with the Will of Hashem and in this way, to clear up the pipes once more that abundance can flow to all." This teaching is found in the book on the life of the Chofetz Chaim written by Moses M Yoshor, some has been summarized here some is direct quote
Since this weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is longer, I will just state a reminder that reciting Tehillim has tremendous power and can bring salvation to all situations in ways we can not completely understand.
This weeks list of names can be found on http://lovingkindness.co/tehillim.html
Have a wonderful Shabbos