Apples of Gold Jan/Feb 2022
Many people do not want to talk about the Holocaust, especially the elderly, who suffered in the death camps as I did. Our young people know of the Holocaust only from hearing stories. They are angry and want vengeance on the oppressors, and the Orthodox quickly find the passages in Scripture that speak of revenge, such as Psalm 58:10: “The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance.”
Recently I spoke with some of them and asked how old they were. They were all too young to have lived during the Holocaust of World War II. I told them it is wrong to seek vengeance. “It is written in Proverbs 24:17, ‘Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles,’” I told them.
“Of course, you can speak nicely because no one in your family was murdered,” one replied.
“You are gravely mistaken,” I said. “I was in the most dangerous places, especially the Warsaw Ghetto. It was no heaven on Earth.”
“How can you live with this burden and not take revenge?” one asked.
“If we believe in God,” I replied, “we must put our trust in Him. He is the One who takes revenge in His time. As it is written in His Holy Word, ‘Vengeance is Mine, and recompense’ (Dt. 32:35) and again in Jeremiah, ‘For this is the time of the LORD’s vengeance’” (51:6).
They were surprised. They could not understand how I, who passed through the seven halls of Hell, could be so forgiving. “You see,” I said, “though we were nearly destroyed, we still exist! A new generation that has received the Lord is growing up. We are those about whom Isaiah 49:3–6 is written, the preserved ones of Israel. We are going to those who wanted to destroy us and are showing them who we are and what our duty is.
“We make those who were our enemies yesterday our best friends today. We cannot live all our lives by the sword. Our enemies see our goodness even now. After all they have done to hurt us, we are still not people of revenge. All the nations of the world can see what the Lord has done through Israel, His Chosen People, who bring His salvation to those who have tried to destroy them.
“So, I ask you this: Who are we before God? As the Lord says, ‘Fear not, you worm Jacob’ [Isa. 41:14]. This little ‘worm’ has the most important duty of teaching His Word to the world. The Lord clearly said, ‘“I will help you,” says the LORD’ [v. 14]. What can be better than this? His Word is eternal. If I can forgive, who are you that you are so stiff-necked and cannot forgive?”
They wanted to know how I could feel this way and if I were crazy.
“Do you believe in the almighty God or in your teachers?” I asked.
“We believe in God and also our teachers, as they have shown us how to obey God,” one answered.
“It is clearly written in Psalm 118:8–9, ‘It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes,’” I said. “In whom have you believed? You have lost your direction and are at a crossroads, waiting for someone to bring you to the right way. Can it be that I am the one who will help you?”
“Anything is possible,” one said, “But you do not look like someone who believes in God.”
“Only because of my outward appearance?” I asked. “It is written in Proverbs 31:30, ‘Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing.’ I do not come to you in special clothing like the Orthodox wear. What I told you during these few hours you can read for yourself in the Holy Bible. The Lord also said in Leviticus 26 that if you will obey His commands, He will bless you. I do not come like your teachers and read fictitious stories to you. I read from the Holy Bible!”
Then I read to them about the Lord’s great love from John 3:16 and Isaiah 53. I pray these men will come to know the Lord and His peace and forgiveness.
From the Friends of Israel archives