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The Holocaust and The Next World

Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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Rabbi 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 ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. 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.

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The Holocaust and The Next WorldWe know that those killed in the Holocaust didn’t merit to offer themselves for Hashem’s sake because they weren’t given the alternative to being killed. Anyone who was Jewish was killed. Most of the victims had no time at all to reflect as they were being killed. This was different than other tragedies throughout history where there was an opportunity to choose to die for Hashem and attain the level of Kiddush Hashem. The Nesivos Shalom[1] says that even those who were killed without being given a choice, who had no intention of performing the mitzva of Kiddush Hashem, still did perform the act of Kiddush Hashem, since they were killed solely because they were Jews.


R’ Efraim Oshry[2] writes that he heard that before R’ Elchonon Wasserman was killed by the Nazis, he instructed his son, R’ Naftali to recite the bracha which the Shelah Hakadosh[3] required reciting before surrendering one’s life in fulfillment of the mitzva of Kiddush Hashem. The text of this bracha as cited in the Pischei Teshuva[4] is ברוך…אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לקדש שמו ברבים. R’ Oshry adds that a grandson of the Chofetz Chaim reported that the Chofetz Chaim instructed Jews to recite this bracha during the deadly anti-Semitic riots in Russia during World War One. The Jewish victims of these massacres were not given any alternative. Yet, according to these reports, they were in fulfillment of the mitzva of Kiddush Hashem, and were therefore to recite a bracha over this mitzva.


In a letter to R’ Yitzchak Zilberstein, R’ Menashe Klein[5] writes regarding a מומר, apostate that was killed because he was a Jew if that is included in Kiddush Hashem. He cites the Chassam Sofer who writes that it is permitted to be Mechalel Shabbos for one who is a משומד (a Jew who converted to another religion) to save him since even such a person, when he is in a time of trouble, has thoughts of Teshuva (מהרהר בתשובה). He also brings the words of the Iggeres HaRambam that says that one who merits to be killed Al Kiddush Hashem, even if he has sins like Yeravam Ben Nevat and his colleagues, he is a Ben Olam Haba.[6] R’ Menashe Klein writes concerning the scud missiles that were fired in order to kill Jews in Eretz Yisrael because they were Jewish (To those who fired the missiles, there was no difference to them if it fell on someone who was Torah observant or not.) that even if they don’t flee although they are able to, and are killed, this is included in being killed Al Kiddush Hashem—even if the one killed was someone like Yeravam Ben Nevat. He goes to Olam Haba. During the Holocaust, more than six million Kedoshim were killed. Even though not all of them went to give themselves over (as many were far from religious), but this is included in being killed Al Kiddush Hashem since they were killed because they were Jewish. For this reason, they are called Kedoshim. Those who die through the wicked and the like are all Kedoshim.

[1] קונטרס ההרוגה עליךבמעלות קדושים וטהורים, 1.

[2] Mi’ma’amakim 2:4.

[3] See Shaar Haosiyos, os alef.

[4] Yoreh Deah 157:6.

[5] Mishna Halachos 16:121.

[6] See also Shu”t Chassam Sofer, Yoreh Deah, 333.

Author of the books Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights

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