Seizing The Opportunity – Weekly Story by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon
I received the following story last week and decided to share it with all of our readers. It was said in the name of Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss shlit”a, the av beis din of eidah hachareidis in Yerushalayim. I thank the person for forwarding it to me, and once again request those that have inspiring stories to email them to me, so I can share it with our readers.
This story is being written in first person, as if Rabbi Weiss is talking.
In 1939, a few months before my bar mitzvah the rumblings of World War II were felt by everyone in my village. However, the community leaders were unsure if the rumblings and rumors were completely accurate, and what course of action should be taken. So one day a community leader asked me to go to the city of Pressburg, which was four kilometers away, and ask the head of the community (the Rosh hakahal), what we should do.
I rushed over and the Rosh hakahal replied, tell them it is worse than they imagine. Whoever could escape should do so as soon as possible. Don’t wait to save your money or business, save yourself and your family. It is beyond dangerous!
Then looking at me he said, England agreed that we can send one thousand unaccompanied minors, under seventeen years old. The problem is that there are many more children than that amount. So I don’t know how to choose who to save, every child and person deserves to be saved!
But Tuvia you have found favor in my eyes, and I am going to give you one of those coveted tickets. Now go home and inform the Rov and leaders of the dire situation and return here as the transport is leaving in a few days.
When I returned to my town I immediately informed the Rov and the leaders what the leader of Pressburg said, and then went home. I informed my parents what happened and packed up my few belongings. My father told me that my tefillin are not yet ready, but he wants to give me something for my bar mitzvah and gave me a kitzur shulchan aruch (code of Jewish law). I learned it for many weeks until I was fluent in it.
I traveled on the transport, and a kind person accepted me in their home. A few weeks after the transport arrived in England, I received from my parents a pair of tefillin. Sorry to say that was the last communication I had with my parents, before they were killed al kiddish Hashem, hy”d.
After we were in England for a while, King George the 6th, wanted to see the thousand children that came on that transport and for whom England took responsibility for. (In total England brought in close to ten thousand children). A date was set and the thousand children stood at attention in two long lines on both sides of the road.
When the carriage arrived we all waved and expressed our appreciation, as it began driving through very slowly, so that the King could see each child.
All of a sudden one boy broke ranks and made a dash towards the carriage. However, before he was able to reach it, the security stopped him. But the king had noticed what had happened and instructed the wagon to stop and that the young man be brought to him.
When he entered the carriage King George inquired “Young man, what did you wish to say to me?”
The boy replied, on behalf of all the children whom you have already saved and the ones you will save I want to thank you and this wonderful country for its tremendous kindness.
Yet at the same time there is a hollowness in my heart. How can I truly be happy and rejoiceful when I am aware of the terrible fate that will befall on my loving parents and my dear siblings? I feel that the kindness is not complete, until they too are saved.
King George replied with an inquiry, “From what town do you come from?”
After the boy replied, the king thanked him and his meeting ended.
Two weeks later, the family arrived safely in England. Evidently the king acted on the child’s request, and instructed England’s representatives to bring them to safety.
Reb Tuvia continued, if the child would have tried to speak to the king in Buckingham Palace, what are the chances that he would have made it pass all the levels of security and be able to speak to the King?
What are the chances that the King would have noticed that he was trying to speak to him?
Again the answer is zero!
Yet when the king was riding in his carriage he was accessible. And because that one boy seized the opportunity his entire family was saved.
Reb Tuvia Weiss shlit”a concluded and that is what chodesh Elul is “The King Is In The Field,” and each one of us should seize the moment and beseech Hashem yisburach, for everything good, for us, our family and friends and indeed for the entire Jewish people and the world.
May all of your tefillos be accepted, kesiva v’chasima tova lshana tova umesuka.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. He has farbrenged in numerous communities and is available to farbreng in your community. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org