Monday, 13 May 2019

Yom Haatzmaut - David Sagiv

This week we commemorate a BM, and life and death and several sacred occasions.

The BM – of course, George, is yours – the heartiest of Mazal Tov wishes.

The life – of course, is of the State of Israel, 71 years this week. That’s one of the sacred occasions, for Jews – Yom Haatzmaut.

The deaths – of course, are those who died in the Wars defending the Jewish state, and the victims of terror. That another of the sacred occasions – Yom HaZikaron.

But I want to talk about another death, a death that tells us something about the past 71 years of Israel, and might prove a marker to a way ahead.

David Sagiv passed away this week, aged 91, from natural causes. May his memory be a blessing. Sagiv was born in Basra Iraq – and went for the first 23 years of his life by the name Daud Sagawi.

As a teenager he was appointed Secretary of a Jewish Youth Group in Basra called a-Shabiba al-Yisrailiya. In his 60s he wrote of the life of Jews of the place of his birth – in a memoir called Yahudaut BMifgas HaNaharaim – Judaism at the meeting place of the rivers – he wrote that the Jews and the Shiite Muslims of Basra, even the religious leaders – were perfectly civil, occasionally even warm.

He wrote that the local friendships even survived the death of the first King Faisal, for Faisal’s son became a Nazi sympathiser and life for the Jews of Iran became much more difficult at that point.

Then came the declaration of Independence and being the Secretary of a club called a-Shabiba al-Yisrailiya no longer signified that you were a Jew – for Yisrailiya is the word the Koran uses to refer to Jews, but instead suggests some kind of anti-Iraqi intent. And for this, young Daud Sagawi was arrested twice. So he fled to Israel, aged 23 in 1951.

Once in Israel Sagawi, now known as Sagiv, found work in the Arabic Spoken section of the Voice of Israel Network, and eventually became head of the division. He found that even native Israeli Arabic speakers would struggle with the right word to use on many occasions, so he started collecting words, filing away words, looking out for the earliest appearance of known Arabic words, and the first appearance of new words. He met and married. His wife – also an Arabic speaking Jew – was a diplomat, posted to Cairo as Israel and Egypt made peace in 1979. The Sagivs went back and forth between the two countries. And all the while Sagiv filed away more and more words in what became in his mind the mammoth project of creating for the first time a dictionary translating modern Hebrew into modern Arabic, and modern Arabic into modern Hebrew.

It took 60 years. And finally, at the age of 80, it was published – Milon Aravi Ivri / Ivri – Aravi Bat Zemameinu – the Hebrew Arabic / Arabic Hebrew Dictionary of Our Time. 1160 pages, more than 60,000 carefully tracked down, analysed, etymologically broken down, with the earliest appearances, whether it be Torah or Koran, Talmud or Haddith carefully recorded. It’s a gargantuan achievement. And it's known, wherever it's used, as the Sagiv.

In the intro to the dictionary Sagiv wrote;
For many generations Jews and Arabs lived side by side and the daily life of the two cultures was intertwined with Arabic as the mutual language of communication.

Sagiv was saddened to see the Arabic hatred of the State of Israel, and saddened also to see the contempt so many of the Ashkenazi founding fathers of the State of Israel had for the Jewish Arabic speaking diaspora.

Of course, the Jewish Arabic diaspora has been the home to many of the greatest achievements of our people. Maimonides, perhaps the most important Jewish thinker of all time, spoke Arabic as his day to day language. His most famous book, without question the single most important book in all of Jewish theology  – the Guide to the Perplexed was written in Arabic. Perhaps, more importantly, he studied the great Arabic scholars of his day, and his works are massively influenced by Arabic culture.

So many of the great songs of our liturgy are also massively influenced by the modes and metres of Arabic poetry, written by poets steeped in their Arabic speaking Jewish culture.

Lecha Dodi Likrat Kalah
Adon Olam Asher Malach

That’s an Arabic poetic rhythm, or to give it its proper Arabic name – Maqam.

It’s actually a rather simple Maqam – a more typical Makan goes like this

Anim Zemirot V’Shrim E’erog

But something got lost in the years of the founding of the State of Israel. Israel was founded by Jews from German-speaking and Yiddish speaking, and even English speaking Europe. And they – we – I’m one of them, tended to look down on the Arab speaking Jews. Some were poorer than the Yiddish and German-speaking founders and some were less well educated. But not all. More than the sociology, there was something about this language – Arabic – seems to have been held as a sort of treason. Even when spoken by Israeli Jews.

I spent a year in Israel on a gap year, and taught English in a secondary school. The saddest teacher in the place was the woman teaching Arabic. Every class her students would throw around paper darts, chewing gum, even chairs. It wasn’t she was a bad teacher, just they had no interest in learning Arabic – even if their parents and grandparents had spoken the language.

One of Israel’s leading contemporary writers, and poets, Elmog Behar, wrote the poem, My Arabic is Mute. It tells the story of what it means for him, as a Jewish Israeli to grow up unable to speak the language his Jewish Arab-speaking ancestors spoke so fluently.

My Arabic is Mute
My Arabic is Mute
Strangled in the throat
Cursing itself
Without uttering a word
Sleeping in the suffocating air
Of the shelters of my soul
From family members
Behind the shutters of the Hebrew.

My Arabic is scared
quietly impersonates Hebrew
Whispering to friends
With every knock on her gates:
“Ahalan, ahalan, welcome”.
And in front of every passing policeman
And she pulls out her ID card
for every cop on the street
pointing out the protective clause:
“Ana min al-yahud, ana min al-yahud,
I’m a Jew, I’m a Jew”.
And my Hebrew is deaf
Sometimes so very deaf.

But the real reason to mourn the death of David Sagiv isn’t just that he could help poets like Behar find ways to connect to the language of their ancestors, but that he could help Jews speak to today’s Arab speakers.

By the time the Sagiv Dictionary was published the Sagivs were back in Israel, the had left Egypt – where Sagiv had been friends with the cultural luminaries of the City – he translated the Egyptian Nobel laureate Naggid Mahfouz into Hebrew. But relations between the countries deteriorated.
"Today we are less in touch with our friends in Egypt," he said, several years ago. "There is a serious process of deterioration in ties. Perhaps it is their fault, perhaps it is ours, but it is not a good thing. One needs someone crazy, like me, who will swim against the stream and publish a dictionary with the aim of getting the two cultures closer."

The Sagiv Dictionary was not just an attempt to allow a people to talk itself, it was an attempt to allow one people to speak with another.

One of the extraordinary things that happened this week – this week that recognises those fallen in the Wars and victims of terror in Israel, is that, for the fourteenth time a group of came together to mourn not only the Jews who died defending Israel, but also Arabs who died too; not only the heroes and the innocent passers-by but even, and this is where the event gets contentious, terrorists. The Bereaved Families Forum is a group of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians who have lost loved ones – even loved ones of those who have behaved murderously. They come together to talk together to find a way beyond the violence. And for the fourteenth time they held a joint Jewish Arab, Israeli Palestinian commemoration on Yom HaZikaron. 7,000 people participated. The High Court insisted that 181 Palestinian mourners be allowed to travel from the West Bank to the commemoration. Robi Damelin, a spokesperson for the Parents Circle, who has spoken at this Synagogue, whose son David was killed at age 28 performing military reserve duty in the West Bank in 2002 said “These would usually, be the least likely people on earth to have any contact whatsoever, but yet they feel this absolute need to continue with the work of peacemaking.”

At the commemoration in Hayarkon Park Jews spoke of their losses, and Arab Palestinians spoke of their losses. And in that moment of courage … well who knows what happened, or what might still happen.

Addressing criticism of the event voiced by other bereaved Israeli families, Robi Damelin says, “I don’t have any right to criticize another parent, but they too should respect our decision.”

I do respect that decision, more than that I believe that there is no other way for Israel to have a future than to understand better how to speak Arabic and actually how to listen to Arabic. You can’t detach the Land of Israel from the other language spoken there. You don’t need a law to officially demote Arabic from being a national language. You need laws encouraging all children to learn Arabic so that one day some of them can have the strength and courage to sit before an Arabic speaker and hear what makes them scared and what makes them pained. And hope that just as we all pray to one God our shared humanity will allow them to find the ability to hear us.

And there was one other sacred occasion commemorated this week. This is also the first week of Ramadan. If there is anyone here observing Ramadan, and we would be a better Synagogue if there was, Ramadan Mubarak. Mubarak, of course, coming from the same etymological root as the Hebrew – Barukh. MuBarak. A blessing. How typical that the word for blessing is one of the words Hebrew speakers and Arabic speakers don’t need a dictionary to decode in each others wishes for the other.

Barukh, Mubarak, a blessing.
May it come to both our people. Speedily and in our times.
Shabbat Shalom

Friday, 3 May 2019

The Most Important Thing - To Do Something Good for Someone Else

I want to begin where I left off at a talk I gave on Wednesday – on the eve of Yom HaShaoh, the day in the year when we, as Jewish communities across the world, recognise and memorialise the genocidal murder of our people under Nazi rule only a blink of an eye ago. I ended my talk with a tale told by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, Carlebach’s a complex figure, but I think it’s a really important story, especially for today.

Carlebach tells his story that he was wandering through the streets of Tel Aviv and he sees a man, bent over, a hunchback, sweeping the streets. And he wonders what there might be to learn from such a person. So he goes over, and he gets closer to the man he sees on his forearm the tattoos of a man who was imprisoned in a concentration camp by the Nazis. So he asks the man, where are you from,.

And the man responds, From Piaseczno.

Now for Carlebach – for me also, there is a certain magic in the name of this small Shtetl about 16 km South of Warsaw. It’s the home of one of the greatest inspirations for me, especially in a week like this, when I want to find a way to remember, to mourn and find a way to go on in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Piaseczno was the home of Rabbi Kalonymous Kalman Shapira – the Piaseczno Rebbe. Now before the Nazis invaded Poland, before all the awfulness that was to come, the Piaseczno Rebbe was already known as a great teacher and scholar and specifically a great teacher of younger children. And the Nazis invaded Poland, and the Piaseczno Rebbe, like so many others, was driven into the Warsaw Ghetto. And here is where he becomes more than a great teacher and scholar and specifically a great teacher of younger children. It’s here that the Piaseczno Rebbe becomes a hero.

In the Ghetto Reb Kalonymous serves as a Rabbi – he’s better known as the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto  - and he teaches, week in and week out in circumstances that are, for me, for all of us, beyond belief. He had to get up and give a sermon that gave people hope, and comfort in a place that seemed empty of hope and was certainly empty of comfort. Eventually the Warsaw Ghetto Rebbe was deported and taken to his the death, but amazingly his teachings, these brave, beautiful words that he hurled against the wickedness of his time, somehow escaped the clutches of the Nazis. In the aftermath of World War Two, when Warsaw was being rebuilt a construction worker came across a container buried in the earth. Inside were manuscripts in Hebrew letters. So the worker took the container to the Jewish Historical where the following was read;

Attention – Aufmeerkzam
By the grace of God, I respectfully request the honoured individual that find my following writings – sermons on the weekly portion given between 1939-1942 to be as so kind to take the trouble to forward them to the land of Israel at the following address, Rabbi Isaiah Shapira, Tel Aviv, Palestine. Please send this letter as well. When, with God’s compassion I and the remaining Jews will survive the war, I request that everything be returned to me or to the Warsaw Rabbinate. May God have mercy on us, the remnanet of Israel, wherever we may be. May God spare us, grant us life and save us in the twinkling of an eye.
With thanks from the depths of my heart,

And, after the war, after the establishment of the State of Isarel, the teachings are collected, translated into Hebrew, and published. I love this collection. It contains some of the powerful attempts to speak to people in places of pain and suffering that it is possible to imagine.

And Shlomo Carlebach knew these teachings and that’s why hearing the name of the town, where the street-cleaner grew up struck him so.

Did you, perhaps, Shlomo asked the man, Did you, when growing up in Piaseczna ever know Reb Kalonymous Kalman Shapira?

Of course I knew him, came the response. I was one of his students, before the war, before all this. Before the war I was a strong young man, so strong that the Nazi beat and beat me, and that is why I am now so bent over, and broken.

And can you, what might you be able to tell me about the Torah you learnt the Rebbe, was there anything he taught you that you could pass on to me?

I don’t remember much, said the street-cleaner. I remember the atmosphere, how wonderful it was, and his kindness, how special he made us all feel. But I don’t remember much of the content. Only this. There was one thing the Rebbe would always say at the end of his teachings. He would always end by saying this,
Hadavar Hachi Gadol BaOlam Laasot Tovah L’Mishehu Acher.
The very greatest thing in the world is to do something good for another person.
He would always end his teaching with this.

And the streetcleaner continued to tell his story. He had been deported from Piasescna and taken to Auschwitz, and one night had felt so desperate about his lot, that he thought of taking his own life. And as he stood and looked out at the barbed wire of the camp he remembered the teaching of his Rebbe.
Hadavar Hachi Gadol BaOlam Laasot Tovah L’Mishehu Acher.
The very greatest thing in the world is to do something good for another person.
And he decided to find someone for whom to perform at Tovah – a good thing, a kindness.
Do you know, he said, how many ways there are to do something good for another person in Auschwitz?
So many people who wanted someone to talk to, someone to share in their pain.
And it’s still true, the man continued.
Do you know, he said, how many ways there are to do something good for another person while sweeping the streets of Tel Aviv?

There’s something very special for me to be able to share this story today, on a Shabbat when we mark Yom HaShoah, and when we mark, William, the contribution of your family to the rescue, from the Nazis of the extraordinary Czech Memorial Scrolls.

Scrolls whose every letter teaches us
Hadavar Hachi Gadol BaOlam Laasot Tovah L’Mishehu Acher.
The very greatest thing in the world is to do something good for another person.

VeAhavta L’Reacha Camocha – we’ll read that verse next week.
You shall love your fellow as you love yourself. Rabbi Akiva said that that verse was the very essence of the entire Torah.
It’s all about how you treat other people.

Now William, you are a younger sibling, so I know you know exactly how annoying other people can be. Actually we all know how annoying other people can be. And I don’t just mean your sister. But here’s a thing.
What if the other people we meet in our lives, even the very annoying ones, were opportunities for us to the most important thing in the world?

I mean, the remarkable thing about this piece of Torah that comes fluttering down through time, the remarkable thing about this teaching of Reb Kalonymous is that it’ actually not hard.

Let me say something about that Hebrew word, Tovah – the most important thing is to do a Tovah for someone else.
The word comes from the word – Tov – good. You can’t really translate it perfectly – to do a Tovah is to give a moment to see what the other person needs, and find a way to be the response to that need – what do most of us need? A chance to feel connection, to feel listened to, to feel appreciated.
It’s an amazing thing to do a Tovah for someone else. It changes them, it changes you. And on the other side of something even as simple as a Tovah the world is a better place.
Made incrementally better each time one person performs a Tovah for another person.
A Tovah might sound like a small, inconsequential action, but it’s not – it’s the most powerful way in which we can mend the world, improve the world, and make a world more fit for our future.

The most important thing in the world is to do do a  Tovah for someone. Reb Kalonymous didn’t say the most important thing to do in the world was solve the problems of Brexit, or Climate Change. He didn’t say that you had to make someone else’s problems disappear in a puff of smoke. He didn’t say that you need to be able to cure every disease. He said that you need to do a Tovah.

Because here’s the problem.
We’ve forgotten the most important thing. We’ve forgotten that we need to lead in doing good in the world. Most of the time, most of us are waiting around for someone to do something good for us before we do something good for them. Or we spend our time looking out at everyone else criticism them, pointing out their shortfallings and failures and, well seen like that we’ll watch out and keep waiting and waiting. And in the meantime the world gets more and more broken. If we want to live in a kinder, more peaceful and happier society it’s not going to be enough to wait for other people to do good things for us, before we do good things back to them.

That kind of life has got us into a place where we are continually judging other people as not worth the effort.
And the message that somehow, miraculously, was saved from the Holocaust, is that we need to go first.

Hadavar Hachi Gadol BaOlam Laasot Tovah L’Mishehu Acher.
The very greatest thing in the world is to do something good for another person.

If we go out into the world, whether it be the streets of Tel Aviv, or St Johns Wood, and look for opportunities to do these acts of Tovah we will build a future for ourselves and our children that, please God, will never know the destruction of the century now passed. If we go out into the world and look for opportunities to do these acts of Tovah, we can build a world of kindness and goodness. A world we would all wish to live in,

Shabbat Shalom

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

The Female Face of God in Auschwitz - A Yom HaShoah Address

In the run up to Yom Hashoah I look over my bookshelf and search desperately for something to help me have a relationship with this awful event in human history.

I’ve some great writers to turn to; the Warsaw Ghetto Rebbe, Reb Kalonymous Shapiro Epstein, who offered comfort to those in the Ghetto. I look across the great work of the survivors; Primo Levi, Eli Weisel, Viktor Frankl. There are the brave thinkers who have wrestled with the awfulness of even having, themselves been spared the worst of the horrors , personally - Emil Fackenheim – who was ‘merely’ – and I use the word advisedly – held for three months concentration in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, Emanuel Levinas, ‘merely’ held, despite his Jewish status as a Prisoner of War imprisoned by the Nazis from 1940-45.

And then I look at those whose bravery in engagement with this issue owes nothing to their personal narrative – Yitz Greenberg, Richard Rubenstein, and the list continues.Those of you who have heard me speak on the previous anniversaries of this sacred and awful day will know how much these writers and thinkers have inspired influenced provoked and even at times comforted me.

But the thing that struck me, this year, was that all these thinkers, brave as they are – they are all men. I know, of course, I know of brilliant women who have written memoirs, spoken of their experiences, inspired and educated – and I salute them all – and particularly Hannah Lewis, who is here today. I know, of course of brilliant women historians, Lucy Davidowocz and Deborah Lipstadt among them who have documented with care and skill the horrors that took place. But when I look for a religious response to the Holocaust – and I’m a Rabbi and we are all at a Synagogue – I had to ask around for help.

And from a number of sources I was recommended to a book, a writer, and an approach to the Holocaust that I have found hugely powerful and inspiring, even on this dark day. With your permission, I would like to share it with you.

Dr Melissa Raphael teaches at the University of Gloucester and her most important work on the Holocaust, The Female Face of God in Auschwitz, was shortlisted for the Koret Jewish Book Awards. Raphael suggests that most of the time we - by which she means the male Jewish theologians who engage with the Holocaust – ask the wrong question. We ask the question, ‘where was God in the Holocaust.’ And what we should be asking is ‘Who was God in the Holocaust.’

The answers to the first question – the male question – where was God are fundamentally bleak. For Buber, God was in eclipse. For Weisel, God was hanging on the scaffold. For Rubenstein, God is dead. For untold numbers of those who survived or those who have come after the Holocaust asking the first question, where was God, results in a denial of any kind of God at all. If this could happen, so many of us have responded, then there is no God. There is no judge, there is no justice.
But Raphael’s point is that those bleak answers to that bleak question are predicated on the wrong notion of what God might be, they are predicated on a male notion of God that was the wrong notion to have in the first place.

Raphael goes about her investigation of God in Auschwitz very, it seems, inspired by Fackenheim’s work, To Mend the World. She starts by collecting stories, by collecting truths, she’s not interested in looking away, downplaying or belittling the awfulness of what happened in Auschwitz. But when she looks at the behaviour, in particular, or the women in that place of darkness and horror, she sees something remarkable. She sees acts of love.
In a review essay on Raphael’s work the Christian theologian, Christopher Pramuk records the following;

Raphael tells the story of a woman who, torn from her husband and children by SS guards immediately after arriving at the camp, falls weeping on the frozen ground “with the flaming crematoria before her,” when she suddenly feels two hands lay a garment around her shoulders. An old Frenchwoman had stepped forward, wrapping her in her own cloak, whispering [words of comfort] She recalls another now-iconic story of an old woman who is remembered “for holding in her arms a motherless 1-year-old child as she stood at the edge of the communal pit, about to be shot with the rest of her village by Nazi troops. The old woman sang to the child and tickled him under the chin until he laughed with joy. Then they were shot.”[1]

For Raphael these, and there are countless other, tales of tiny acts of kindness and comfort in the midst of awful tragedy, acts performed by men as well as women, non-Jews as well as Jews and even, it should be admitted, Germans as well. For Raphael there is something godly in these acts, and the god they define is a god of kindness, and bravery in the face of great contrary powers of chaos and cruelty. God is defined relationally – in relation to human beings. God is not some aloof distant deity lurking all mighty behind an eclipsing shadow, but rather found and experienced in the most tiny of acts. God arises and is shaped by us, relationally.

It’s an important and fascinating way of reframing the entire theological endeavour. No longer are we to start with the classic propositions of a masculine-framed theology; God is the first cause, the unmoved mover and so on. But rather God is a dwelling of mercy and kindness in a fractured shattered world. God is created as women, and men, make themselves visible to one another as human beings –Levinas is a major influence. If one of the goals of the Nazi oppressors was to dehumanise Jews, strip us of our names, our clothes, our bodies, our lives even – we were to be turned into a factory output; instead Raphael recounts and records the acts of visibility of humans acting humanely.

Here is Raphael expressing this idea in her own words;

God could hardly find her way through the darkness—but the darkness was not her disappearance. However momentarily, the spark generated between the seeing and seen face was analogous to a Sabbath candle inviting God’s presence—Shekhinah—into Auschwitz. Even the most infinitesimal spark of light was enough to illuminate—if only momentarily—the grey face of the other and so refract God into the toppling world.[2]

As she says, ‘God, in Auschwitz, was knowable in the moment of being seen in the face of the seen other.’[3]

One of the most remarkable stories Raphael uses to make her case is a war-time diary, by the Dutch woman Etty Hillesum who was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of 29. Like Anne Frank her writings survived, but she is that much older, and her voice deserves to be heard far more than is the case.

Two weeks before her arrest and deportation, Hillesum wrote the following,

Sunday morning prayer. “Dear God, these are anxious times. Tonight for the first time I lay in the dark with burning eyes as scene after scene of human suffering passed before me. I shall promise You one thing, God, just one very small thing: I shall never burden my today with cares about my tomorrow, although that takes some practice. Each day is sufficient unto itself. I shall try to help You, God, to stop my strength ebbing away, though I cannot vouch for it in advance. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear to me: that You cannot help us, that we must help You to help ourselves. And that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters: that we safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves. And perhaps in others as well. . . . You cannot help us, but we must help You and defend Your dwelling place inside us to the last.”

Let me do that last sentence again, ‘You cannot help us, but we must help You and defend Your dwelling place inside us to the last.’

Raphael isn’t interested in the classic games of theodicy – justifying God’s omnipotence and beneficence. Like Rubenstein and Fackenheim, she thinks there is simply no point in such male pursuits. Rather she wants us to think of a God that only exists as we help God. We become partners. Abraham Joshua Heschel, who considered himself a brand that escaped the fire of the Holocaust when he escaped Nazi Germany to come, first to London then New York, spoke of God in Search of Man. Raphael articulates a God who is formed by the response of Woman – and man.

For Raphael, the God to whom Hillesum prays “is a God who does not rescue the lives of the victims, but one who sustains the sufferers in their struggle to maintain, as long as possible, a life of dignity and self-respect.”[4]

Hilllesum’s last known writings were scribbled on a postcard thrown from the train the delivered her from some other staging post to Auschwitz. ‘We left the camp singing’ she wrote. She wasn’t stupid. She knew. But she still sung. Adorno – another man – who said that could be no more poetry after Auschwitz is proved wrong by a poet who sung her way into Auschwitz.

As Raphael puts it;

Even more than her diary, this textual fragment that is delivered to us over on the “safe” other side of the Holocaust is the means by which Hillesum sends the ineradicable humanity of that “we” back to us. As the Torah does for God, Hillesum’s text—her inked words on paper—establish both her eternal presence and, as a surrogate for presence, her absence. Essentially, if not materially, her presence, like her postcard, will forever flutter toward us like a butterfly on the fresh breeze of a Dutch field in early autumn somewhere near Westerbork. And it is when the theologian kneels in the grass to retrieve that card that history and theology begin to unite—a process already underway in Hillesum’s own writing.

It’s not over. The Holocaust was awful. We stand today mourning. But God isn’t gone. I’m not sure I believe in the God that could ever be gone. Rather, God is there is the acts of kindness done by one human to another, in the face of the evil. God is formed by our witnessing that human beings are creatures of decency and kindness. The power of evil is overwhelmed when we stand and celebrate such acts, even through our tears.

Shlomo Carlebach tells a story of meeting a road sweeper on the streets of Tel Aviv with the tattoo of a camp survivor on his arm. He pleads with the man to tell him where he came from before the horrors of the Holocaust, and the man admits to having studied with the man who became the Rabbi of the Warsaw Ghetto - the Piasescna Rebbe, the Rabbi I first spoke of at the beginning of this talk. What did he tell you? Carlebach wants to know, what was Torah . Simply this, the man replies,’ The most important thing is to do something kind for another human being.’ Even there. Even today. And in this way we not only make the world kinder, but we also make the world a little more godly.

[1] file:///C:/Users/rjere/Downloads/10144-Article%20Text-17897-1-10-20170905%20(1).pdf. I’m very grateful for Pramuk for his direction in allowing me access to this important work.
[2] P. 61
[3] P. 88
[4] P.117

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