Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

Reaching The Peak

To the Holocaust, we can apply גדע בחרי אף כל קרן ישראל; He cut down in fierce anger all the dignity of Israel.[1] Daniel’s prophesy of what would happen in the end of days was fulfilled- והיתה עת צרה אשר לא נהיתה מהיות גוי עד העת ההיא; there will be a time of trouble such as there had never been since there was a nation until that time.[2]


The decree that the entire house of Jewry would have to sanctify Hashem’s name had been preordained as of creation but the Tzadikim kept postponing the decree from generation to generation. The Nesivos Shalom[3] writes from the Kabbalists that the decree to annihilate all Jewry, young and old, children and women, was scheduled for the era of Mordechai. When it was overturned, it wasn’t canceled but postponed. In the Holocaust, this decree was carried out;[4] the entire generation participated in fulfilling the Mitzva of Kidush Hashem.[5]


The exile builds the redemption. As deep and as denigrating as is the Galus, so lofty and majestic will be the Geula. The Be’er Avraham[6] says that Hashem allowed the Jews to sink so low in the Egyptian exile- to the 49th level of impurity- because the zenith of the redemption is commensurate with the nadir of the exile. The more powerful the forces of impurity, the greater the effort to overcome them must be. If one overcomes the forces then the greater is the revelation of the power of Kedusha. Since extraordinary spiritual revelations were planned for the exodus of Egypt and the subsequent giving of the Torah, the Jews had to traverse so harsh an exile in which they were mired in 49 levels of impurity (the lowest level) in order to be elevated afterwards to the highest level for entering Kedusha. In this way we can grasp ועבדום וענו אתם…ואחרי כן יצאו ברכש גדול;[7] they will serve and oppress them…afterwards they will leave with great wealth: When they left Mitzrayim they would be elevated to the level of the chosen people[8] and worthy of receiving the Torah. So ועבדום וענו אתם…ואחרי כן יצאו ברכש גדול is that as a consequence of the exile they would after the exodus attain becoming the chosen people and receiving the Torah.[9]

[1] Eicha 2:3

[2] Daniel 12:1

[3] קונטרס ההרוגה עליך, במעלות קדושים וטהורים, 1

[4] In this way we can comprehend ימי הפורים האלה לא יעברו מתוך היהודים (Esther 9:28)- the decree of Purim wasn’t annulled rather just deferred.

[5] The Bluzever Rebbe related that when he was in the concentration camps a woman approached him and asked for a knife. Since the Rebbe thought she wanted to commit suicide because the conditions were so dire, he gave her Chizuk in Emuna. While they were talking, a Nazi soldier asked what they were speaking about. She told the soldier that she wanted a knife. Delighted, as he thought she wanted to commit suicide, he rushed to get her a sharp knife. Suddenly the woman pulled out her child that was hidden in her lap and she raised her hand to heaven saying, “Hashem, You gave me a Jewish child. Even if I won’t merit to raise him, I still want him to return to You as a Jew.” She hurried, took the knife, recited the Bracha of ברוך אתה…וצונו על המילה and then circumcised her son. She was able to do this before her and her son were murdered by the soldier! We can apply to this כל זאת באתנו ולא שכחנוך; all this came upon us yet we have not forgotten You (Tehillim 44:18)! In a similar vein, Rashi says (Devarim 32:43, s.v. הרנינו) non-Jews will praise us saying …we cleaved to Hashem through all the travails and didn’t abandon Him.

[6] Parshas Shemos

[7] Breishis 15:13-14

[8] We read Parshas Bamidbar before Shavuos and Nitzavim prior to Rosh Hashana because after the קללות of Bechukosai and Ki Savo, we may feel dejected and not chosen. So the census in Bamidbar raises our spirits as each of us is counted because each Jew counts and is rooted in Kedusha. Similarly with Parshas Nitzavim, as it mentions us there in the beginning of the Parsha (See Pri Tzadik, Bamidbar, 5). We can apply this to after the Holocaust as well as any tragedies where one may feel rejected. We must realize we are still the chosen people (see Ramban to Devarim 32:26).

[9] In this light we can understand the Gemara (Chagiga 5a) that says anyone who is not subject to הסתר פנים (concealment of the face) is not one of them (the Jewish people) as הסתר פנים serves to bring Jewry to be the chosen people as it brings to the lofty levels that are unique to the Jewish people. So one who is excluded from הסתר פנים is not one of them; he is missing the means for attaining membership in the chosen people. הסתר פנים is the corridor that leads to the great illumination that is destined for the Jewish people. One who is excluded from הסתר פנים is denied the opportunity to attain the Madreiga of enjoying the Shechina’s glory (Nesivos Shalom, קונטרס ההרוגה עליך, גלות וגאולה, 6)

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