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August 2, 2015 / 17 Av, 5775
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The Orphan’s Prayer

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Edward, a young Jewish orphan in the U.S Navy, was shaken to the core when he witnessed the brutal murder of a soldier. In his emotional state, he turned to Hashem and prayed fervently with all of his heart.

As tears rolled down his cheeks, he asked Hashem for three things: 1) that the Jews in Europe be saved from the Germans. (It was the beginning of the war, and reports from Europe were already terrifying.); 2) that his life be spared; and 3) that he merit getting married and raising a proper Jewish family.

Hashem listened to the passionate prayers of the young orphan and answered his pleas. The Germans, as we all know, failed in their diabolical design to obliterate the Jewish people from this world and Edward indeed survived – through a miraculous act of divine providence – his U.S. Navy tour.

Edward was commanded to serve on the USS Bullhead. He boarded the submarine on July 31, 1945 and began to prepare for his journey. He was shocked when the captain of the submarine approached him.

“Edward,” he said in a gruff tone. “Yes, sir,” Edward responded. “Pack your bags,” the captain commanded him, “and get off the submarine.”

Baffled, Edward was completely taken aback by the captain’s order at this point in the mission. He had a stellar reputation and great commitment. The submarine was also set to depart shortly.

He turned to his captain and asked him, with the utmost respect, if there was a reason for his order.

“No reason,” the captain replied tersely. “We are set to leave in 15 minutes, so you better make it quick!”

Edward was completely mystified, yet had no choice but to obey his captain’s orders. He quickly ran and fetched the few possessions he had taken aboard. It was with mixed feelings that he watched from the dock as the gangplank was lifted and the USS Bullhead plunged out of sight. Edward slowly shook his head. He still could not fathom the reasoning behind his captain’s strange order.

A short time later, Edward was transferred to a different submarine, the USS Quillback. One afternoon, as Edward passed by the radio shack, he heard the radio controller calling. “Hey, Edward, weren’t you on the USS Bullhead?”

Edward explained to him that he had been transferred.

The radio controller’s eyes grew wide. He said, “We just got word that it was sunk by the Japanese.”

Edward did not believe him. It can’t be, he thought to himself. “I don’t appreciate dark humor,” he said sharply.

The radio controller persisted. “No, it’s true. You can even confirm this information for yourself.”

Edward still did not believe him and sought verification of what had happened to the USS Bullhead. Indeed, the last word received from the USS Bullhead was on August 6 as it passed through the Lombok Strait, which connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean. At that point, another submarine tried to contact the USS Bullhead but received no reply. It was then realized that the submarine had been surprised by a Japanese fighter ship with depth charges and sunk as a result of two direct hits.

Overcome with gratitude for having been spared death, Edward vowed to remember the story and never cease to thank Hashem – the Avi Yetomim (Father of Orphans).

And Hashem granted Edward’s prayers, as Hitler did not succeed and Torah Jewry thrives to this day. As for Edward’s other requests, he survived the war and emerged from the military unscathed. He also married a Jewish woman and together they established a Jewish home – with fine children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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