Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The collective Jewish heart of Am Yisrael is bleeding. The massacre in Pittsburgh is a personal, communal, and national tragedy. We are again suffering an exorbitant price because of ravaging anti-Semitism, the traditional unquenchable, senseless hatred of the Jew and what he stands for.

What can one say in the face of such a catastrophe?

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Let me quote an excerpt from Sparks of Glory, authored by the late Reb Moshe Prager, known as a major figure in Jewish journalism and a leading authority on Holocaust history and Nazi anti-Semitism.

The following is a piece he titled “My Name Is Chaim” clearly hinting to the immortality of Am Yisrael.

You ask me who I am? Don’t you recognize me? “They” recognized me immediately, everywhere I went. All of them, the hunters on all the roads, the pursuers on all the highways, the guards on all the borders. They all recognized me, summer and winter, in rain and snow, at dawn and in the dead of the night. They all recognized me from afar.

And you still ask me who I am? Yes, I am a Jewish child, who climbs over every wall and jumps over every partition, who mocks his pursuers and oppressors, who doesn’t know the meaning of fear.

Where did I come from? Why did I run? How did I escape? Why do you ask? Are you a hunter, who is after my secret, like all hunters were, who surrounded the forest and nearly trapped me? The enemy kept chasing me. Entire armies after one child. They were armed from head to toe and stood guard day and night in every city, in the fields and villages, in the streets and on highways, waiting to get me.

I saw this, and I understood… I understood that I was carrying a treasure, the most precious treasure in the world, worth all their effort to get their hands on it. From them, the hunters, I learned about my treasure. Whenever I saw that they were looking for us, I understood that I was the greatest treasure in the world and I swore to guard that treasure, come what may!

The attack, in a shul, also recalls the words that Rabbi Mendele of Pabianitz – son of the late Sfas Emes – expressed on his way to Treblinka describing the fury of the Nazis when they discovered a Torah scroll in his room while arresting him: “They immediately let go of me and attacked the scroll viciously. They stepped on it, tore it up and shredded the holy parchment. They sensed the soul imprinted upon the square letters.”

The war of the haters of Am Yisrael is against our spirit; therefore, they won’t relent on their aim to wipe our name out. They don’t realize that they will never succeed. “The bush will not be consumed” – ever.

They surrounded the houses and barricaded the streets, climbed on rooftops and went down into basements to search everywhere. They had special instruments to detect every little sound. I held my breath and repeated the oath I had taken in my mind. My name is Chaim, I’m going to live.

Don’t ask me when the chase ended. It didn’t end. The hunters changed their face and their uniforms, they spoke a different language, but the chase went on.

I swore by my name Chaim, and reiterate that I’m going to live and hold on to my legacy. Yes, Am Yisrael Chai.”

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Rebbetzin Miriam Gross was director of education and assistant dean at EYAHT – Aish Hatorah's College for Women in Israel – for close to 30 years. Born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium, Rebbetzin Gross today lives in Jerusalem where she lectures, teaches, and serves as a Torah-based counselor. She can be reached at RebbetzinGross.JP@gmail.com.
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