The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 6 November 2004 / 22 Heshvan 5765

Bread or Tehilim

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

Upon arrival in one of the DP camps in Europe shortly after the end of World War Two, Rabbi Eliezer Silver, one of the leading rabbis in the U.S., made an effort to lift the spirits of the pitiful surviving Jews by organizing a communal Kabbalat Shabbat prayer service. Noticing the refusal of one particular Jew to join the service Rabbi Silver asked him for his reason.

When we were in the concentration camp, the fellow explained, there was one Jew who had a Sefer Tehillim. In their dark moments there were hundreds of Jews who wished to pour out their hearts to Heaven by reciting Tehillim psalms from his book. But he insisted on receiving three slices of bread for each hour that his Tehillim book was used. If a religious Jew is capable of exploiting others in such a way I dont want to be part of the religious community and their Kabbalat Shabbat!

Without any hesitation the brilliant rabbi responded. Too bad that you look at it this way, he said in a compassionate tone. I see it in an entirely different light. Look how noble Jews are if hundreds of them were prepared to sacrifice their bread in order to say Tehillim!

After a few moments Rabbi Silver and this Jew could be seen walking arm in arm towards Kabalat Shabbat.

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