letter of silence

Friday, 21 April, 2017 - 9:54 am

 Dear Friends,

Today my letter is a letter of silence – because I have no words to say, just silence.

Rabbi Yitzchak Pinchas Wishedski, my father’s grandfather, was in the shul in Vitebsk together with about one hundred Jews on Yom Kippur, 5702 (1941). He was burned alive when the Nazis set fire to it.

Sarah Fruma Wishedski, my father’s grandmother, was murdered on her way to the slaughter pit, simply because she was walking too slowly.

Yekutiel Dov Ber Wishedski, my father’s uncle, was poisoned to death by the Germans when he was serving as the manager of a train station in Leningrad. His daughter, Rosa Wishedski, was murdered as well.

Meir Wishedski, another uncle of my father, did manage to reach the slaughter pit in the Illovsky canal, and was murdered there, together with his wife and young children – and another 4,090 Jews.

Frieda Halfin (Wishedski), my father’s aunt, was sentenced to be hanged because she was a public activist and spoke out against the Germans. Her last request was to give a speech, in which she mocked Hitler and promised her audience that he would fall – all this in fluent German. In response, they cut off her tongue before they hanged her.

I didn’t know them; not even my father knew them. I am sorry to say that I have almost forgotten their names, and my children certainly don’t know anything about them. May my words here be in their memory. Let us remember them, pray and learn to increase their merits and for the sake of their Ilui Neshama (elevation of their souls).

In tractate Bava Batra, Yosef, the son of Rabbi Yehoshua tells about what he saw in the Next World, Olam Ha’Emet (the World of Truth): “I heard them saying, Happy is he who comes here with his learning in hand.” In other words, happy is the person who comes to the Next World carrying with him the Torah that he learned.

And he adds immediately, “And I heard that martyrs – no being can stand in their presence!” in other words, when people are killed just because they are of Jewish descent, they are on the highest level possible, whether they show up in the Next World with their learning or without. No other entity can match them.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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