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To Be A Survivor

Thursday, 19 October, 2017 - 11:54 pm

The story of Noah and the flood is well known to all of us. Each and every year we read this portion of the Torah. And each and every year we unearth new meaning in this narrative.

Noah was saved from the deluge of destruction that engulfed his world and his greatest contribution is that he set out to rebuild that world. We don't read about him sitting down and crying or wringing his hands in despair, although I'm sure he had his moments. The critical thing the Torah records is that after Noah emerged from his floating bunker he began the task of rebuilding a shattered world from scratch. He got busy and picked up the pieces and, slowly but surely, society was regenerated.

Only one generation ago a great flood swept over our world: The Nazi plan was for a Final Solution. Every Jew on earth was earmarked for destruction and the Nazis were already planning their Museum of the Extinct Jewish Race. Not one Jew was meant to survive. So even those of us born after the war are also survivors. Even a Jewish child born this morning is a survivor because according to Hitler's plan, which tragically nearly succeeded, he or she was not meant to live.

This means that each of us, like Noah, has a moral duty to rebuild the Jewish world. 25 years ago, if you walked into a synagogue for a weekday morning service, every other man at the morning minyan (prayer quorum) bore a holy number on his arm. They were concentration camp inmates and the Germans tattooed those numbers onto their arms.

Sadly, today, the ranks of those individuals have been greatly diminished. Every time one of them would roll up his shirt sleeve to put on tefillin, the number was revealed. They seemed to hardly notice it, as if it was nothing special, but in truth they were heroes. Not only for surviving the hells of Auschwitz or Dachau but for keeping their faith intact, for still coming to shul, praying to G‑d, wearing His tefillin.

These individuals, like Noach, were able to live Jewish lives again, to marry or remarry, to bring children into this world, to carry on life, and to perpetuate our Jewish heritage. And thank G‑d our world is, to a large degree, being rebuilt. But it is now our turn. We share that same responsibility because we are all survivors. Every one of us needs to participate. We are all Noahs and the burden of responsibility rests on our shoulders.

Let us rebuild the Jewish world, brick by brick, by doing one more mitzvah today!

Shabbat Shalom,

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