Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

The Three Weeks

To My Very Last Breath

By Rabbi Label Lam

Last year I was invited to speak at a local Holocaust Museum in Rockland County on Tisha BAv. I was reminded that Tisha BAv is the Holocaust Museum of the Jewish People in time. Remembering not just what happened but what we must yet do remains our holy mission as survivors. The following letter, from the darkest archives, I believe blazes a path through the ashes and resonates with those of us who are parents of children and children of parents.

Dr. Elchanan Elkes was chairman of the Jewish Council in the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania. A man of unique moral stature and courage, he was a Zionist, and encouraged resistance activities in defiance of Nazi orders. Prior to the liquidation of the ghetto, he was sent to Kaufering concentration camp, where he died of typhus.

Though Dr. Elkes perished, his ethical will, written in Hebrew on October 19, 1943 reproduced here and translated on the back of this page, was smuggled out of the ghetto and ultimately reached his son, Joel, in England.

Kovno Ghetto, October 19, 1943

My beloved son and daughter!

I am writing these lines to you, my beloved children, after we have been here, in the Valley of Tears [Psalms, 84:7], the Kovno Ghetto, for more than two years. We have learned that in the very near future our fate will be decided: the Ghetto in which we find ourselves will be crushed and torn asunder. We fear that only those capable of slave labor will live; the rest are probably sentenced to death. With my own ears I have heard the awful symphony of weeping, wailing and screaming of tens of thousands of men, women and children, which have rent the heavens.

No one throughout the ages has heard such a sound. Along with many of these martyrs I have quarreled with my Creator, and with them I cried out from a broken heart, Who is as silent as you, O Lord! In the most excruciating moments of our life you, my beloved, have always been food for our thoughts and nourishment for our hearts.

During the long black nights, your beloved mother would sit beside me and we would both dream of your life and future. Our most fervent desire is to see you again, to embrace you and tell you over and over how closely we are tied to you and how our hearts throb whenever we remember you.

I doubt very much, my most beloved children, that I shall ever see you again, or clasp you again to my heart, and before I depart this world and from you, my most precious, Id like to tell you for the nth time how much we cherish you and how much our souls yearn for you.

My beloved Yoel! Be a loyal son to your people. Try with all your might to settle in the Land of Israel. Tie your destiny and future up with the land of our future. As to you, my beloved daughter Sarah, I trust, my precious, your clear common sense and sound judgment. Take the road of life together, hand in hand. Let no distance part separate you, let no event of life tear you asunder.

Remember, both of you, what Amalek has done to us. Remember that and dont forget it for the rest of your lives and pass this memory as a sacred testimony to future generations.

For a fleeting moment I close my eyes and behold you two standing before me. I embrace and kiss you and say to you that I am your loving father-- to my very last breath.


DvarTorah, Copyright 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

Nowhere Man
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

The Deeds of the Patriachs
Shlomo Katz - 5772

Grace Saved
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Wandering Jew
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

There is a Builder
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Count Us If You Can
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

ArtScroll

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Lech Lecha
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

The chessed of Avraham
Shlomo Katz - 5773

Obstacles and Opportunities
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

> The Kindness Factor
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Jews On the Move
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

To the Land That I Will Show You
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

To The Place G-d Will Show Us
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

Lech Lecha: Avraham "Our Father"
Shlomo Katz - 5766

I Believe
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

Lech Lecha
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information