Friday, September 15, 2023

The source


לז"נ ריצחק עמרם אליהו
בן ר' אברהם אשי זצ"ל
נפטר יום ב' דר"ה
מיד אחרי התקיעות*     

R. Yitzchok Donath זצ"ל (my uncle) was מוסר נפש risking his life together with
the Veitzener Rav zt"l so that שופר would be blown on ראש השנה for 1,400 children
who were destined to the crematoria the following. day.. He enabled them with their
last מצוה in this world  "תקיעת שופר". My uncle too was נפטר with his last מצוה
of תקיעת שופר
יהא זכרו ברוך

Many, asked me to provide them with the source
of the story and some more details.

The story is printed in the  הקדמה of שו"ת מקדשי השם from the 
Veitzener Dayan הרה"ג צבי הירש מייזליש זצ"ל,

He also writes that he asked his son Harav Zalman Leib to
stand guard during the תקיעות to watch for any SS Nazis 
approaching the barrack.

During the Shivah for my uncle, Harav Zalman Leib told
the אבלים that he was too scared to stand guard and it was 
my uncle who volunteered and fearlessly stood guard until
the תקיעות were done.

By Erev Rosh Hashanah 1944, there were more than 6,000 boys in the camp. The Nazis considered them superfluous to the German war machine, and they decided to send 1,400 boys to the ovens. The boys were randomly selected and locked in a barrack while waiting for extermination. I was lucky. A kapo warned me and two friends to stay away while the boys were being caught for the ovens.

Rav Tzvi Hirsch Meisels, the Veitzener Dayan, was brought to our camp a few weeks before this happened, along with his 15-year-old son. Somehow, Rav Meisels had a shofar. How can I describe the emotions as we gathered to say our Rosh Hashanah tefillos and hear the tekios? Rav Meisels began with words of chizuk, encouragement. Although I can’t recount the entire derashah, I remember him saying “Bakeseh l’yom chageinu — everything is covered and hidden. What will happen, only the Eibeshter knows.”

The condemned boys heard about Rav Meisels’s tekios and begged him to blow shofar in their barracks too. It was terrible to watch the Dayan’s son beg his father not to go. He feared his father would be caught and killed. “Please, Father, you are all I have,” he pleaded. “The Ribbono shel Olam doesn’t ask this of you.”

Rav Meisels said it wasn’t required to risk one’s life, but he knew that in a place like Auschwitz his life would probably soon come to an end anyway, and this mitzvah was paramount to any other consideration. After being smuggled into the barracks by a kind kapo, Rav Meisels blew all 100 tekios for the boys. One of the boys shouted that Rav Meisels should be blessed with long years, to which all the boys answered, amid many tears, “Amen.”

All the condemned boys perished the next day. B’chasdei Hashem, both the Dayan and his son survived the war.


(Originally Featured in Mishpacha Issue 678)



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