Of Korbanos and Ashes

In the very midst of the tochachah, the Ribbono shel Olam yet assures us that despite all the suffering and punishments we will endure due to our sins, the glorious day will come when Eliyahu Hanavi will appear and herald our redemption.

“I will remember My covenant with Yaakov and also My covenant with Yitzchak, and also My covenant with Avraham will I remember…”

Rashi asks why the word “remember” is stated in reference to the other two Avos, but not Yitzchak Avinu, and he answers that “remembering” is not necessary in the case of Yitzchak Avinu “because the ashes of Yitzchak [are constantly] before Me…” Maharsha (Brachos 62b) explains that this refers to either the ashes of the ram that Avraham Avinu brought after he was told not to sacrifice Yitzchak, or else to the ashes which Avraham Avinu envisioned as the result of bringing Yitzchak Avinu as a korban.

In nearly 2,000 years of a bitter exile, the “ashes” of Yitzchak have been joined by the ashes of the kedoshim of all generations.

The Rebbe, Harav Moshe of Sambor, who was niftar a century before the churban of Europe, once became very emotional during the recital of Hoshanos. He began to plead with the Ribbono shel Olam to build the Beis Hamikdash.

“If You need clay with which to build it,” he told Hashem, “take the ashes of the kedoshim and mix it with the tears that Yidden have shed from the tribulations of the galus, and You will have clay with which to build…”

The vast majority of the Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust didn’t receive kevurah, but their ashes are gathered before the Ribbono shel Olam and continue to cry out on behalf of Klal Yisrael.

One of these kedoshim was Harav Klonymous Kalman Shapira, the Piaseczner Rebbe, Hy”d. The Rebbe continued his avodas Hashem under the most difficult circumstances imaginable. In the Warsaw Ghetto he continued to write his divrei Torah. At that time no one could understand for whom he was writing it, but miraculously the manuscript survived and was published after the war. It was aptly titled “Eish Kodesh — Holy Fire.”

In his divrei Torah for Shabbos Parashas Chukas 5742 (June 1942) the Rebbe speaks about the fact that the inner soul of a Jew is always cognizant that all is in the Hands of the Creator.

“Even when a Jew asks a favor from another, his soul knows that only Hashem can help him; that the person he is beseeching is merely a messenger from Hashem. Even if one imagines that he is asking [the favor] from a person, in truth his soul is asking it from Hashem, the One Who can do everything, the Av Harachaman Who has mercy and saves. The soul cries out to the Av Harachaman as long as there is still life within, ‘Rateve, rateve!’ (save us).

“In truth it is a wonder that the world still stands after so much screaming. [Regarding] the Asarah Harugei Malchus [Chazal tell us that] the malachim mourned, ‘Can this be the reward for Torah?’ to which a bas kol replied, ‘If I hear another sound I will turn the entire world back to primeval chaos.’ Yet now, the screams of unblemished children, pure angels and kedoshei Yisrael who are even greater than angels, fill all the space of the world, and the world does not revert back to water, but continues to exist as if nothing is happening…

“The Gemara (Brachos 32) states that ‘since the day that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed a wall of iron divides Yisrael from their Father in Heaven…’ Why is a wall of iron necessary? Because the tefillos of Yisrael can destroy ordinary walls. But these screams today can destroy even a wall of iron…

“Certainly we are not alone in our tefillos. For our ancestors the Avos and Imahos, the neviim and nevios, the tzaddikim and tzidkanios are surely not resting; they are not silent when we are suffering so. They certainly are making the entire Gan Eden tremble and quake [with their tefillos on our behalf.]”

Sixty years later, the Rebbe’s words are as powerful as when he wrote them in the Warsaw Ghetto. May the Ribbono shel Olam hearken to our cries, and in the merit of the “ashes” of Yitzchak Avinu and of all the kedoshim, may we merit the Geulah speedily in our times.