Yoseph Janowski
By the Grace of G-d

What the Lubavitcher Rebbe once said about the Holocaust

I was a yeshiva student. It was many years ago, so my memory of it is not exactly what the Rebbe said. But the ideas are etched in my mind, and they impacted me tremendously, then and now.

The Rebbe would speak about the holocaust from time to time. Each time he expressed a certain idea. His goal was always, as I understood it, to try to comfort the generation right after the holocaust. The Rebbe was always doing that, picking up the spirits of individuals, and the Jewish nation.

But there were times, I think, when he broke down. I heard that someone who had gone through the holocaust, and later faced tremendous hardships, once came to the Rebbe. He related what was happening, and the Rebbe just broke down and cried. The person then left the room, but with a new determination to carry on. Because he saw how much the Rebbe cared for him.

At any rate, here is what I remember. The Rebbe was speaking at a farbrengen (Chassidic gathering). First he explained, that we know that every person has a soul. How do we know this? Because when someone dies, the body often looks exactly the same. So we see clearly, that there is a soul which keeps the body alive.

Then he said, what do we love about a person? We love the soul, the inner essential personality.

He then explained that fire and swords etc. can only harm a body, not a soul, which is spiritual.

And then he talked about dying ‘al kidush Hashem’ — sanctifying G-d’s name, which includes Jews who were killed because they are Jews. He said that Rabbi Yoseph Kairo, who was the author of the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish law, was once informed (before he wrote the Shulchan Aruch), that he was supposed to die sanctifying G-d’s name, but because he erred in a certain matter, he was being punished that he would not die that way. So Rabbi Yoseph Kairo lived on, and went on to write the Shulchan Aruch, a guide for the Jewish people right up to our present time.

The Rebbe said, imagine the merit of writing the Shulchan Aruch. Yet dying sanctifying G-d’s name brings so much more benefit to the soul, that Rabbi Yoseph Kairo was punished; he would not have that merit, and instead wrote a code of laws that has sustained our people.

In other words, the tremendous merit, and benefit to the soul, by writing the Shulchan Aruch, is not as great as the merit and benefit of dying for G-d’s name, for being a Jew.

So when a Jew dies for being a Jew, the soul, which we love, and which cannot be destroyed by physical weapons, is in a wondrously beneficial place.

We know that G-d will avenge the deaths of our martyrs. And we see this happening now, with Israel determined to eradicate the terrorists.

We are heartened that the Jewish nation is unified.

We realize that our salvation comes from G-d, and that everything happens by Divine Providence.

We are astounded by the support of the Western nations (who have now issued a statement supporting Israel), and by American weaponry lined up to defend the Jewish people against its enemies.

And we look forward to Moshiach, when those who passed away will be with us again, and we will be truly happy.

May we see it now.

About the Author
The author lives in Toronto, Canada. He has written for
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