Dancing Flames – Dancing Souls

An Excerpt from the Diary of Rabbi YY Schneerson on the occasion of his 67th Yharzeit

On September 27’th, 1939, (14”th of Tishrei 5740) during the bombing of Warsaw, Rabbi Yosef Y Schneerson, the former Lubavitcher Rebbe,  made the following entry into his diary. 

 “As the bombs fell we ran through the streets looking for shelter. An awesome site unfolded before our eyes, houses were transformed into cauldrons of flame and smoke. People, terrified and desperate, ran alongside sobbing bitter tears. The barrage of bombing intensified by the minute, transforming the street into a sea of fire. Ominous tongues of flame danced through the boulevards, as if threatening to consume the entire world. Clouds of smoke conspired to obscure the beauty and clarity of the bright sunny day.

 We gathered in a temporary shelter and began to pray. Around us stood young, old and middle aged Jewish men and women from all walks of life. Some dressed as traditional Jews others as modern Poles, some bearded others not, some with head coverings others without.

Searing Faith

The artificial calm was suddenly shattered as the ground shuddered beneath us; a bomb had exploded nearby. We found ourselves staring into the face of death as a river of flame raced through our shelter. At that very moment, simultaneously and spontaneously, all the assembled cried out, chanting the sacred words  “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad”. As one man in one voice, it was the outcry of a Jew on the verge of death.”

 The rabbi closed the entry with the following observation. “Such a Shema Yisrael, such a deep hearted cry, I had never heard before in my life. I clearly witnessed the power of faith and how deeply rooted it is in the Jewish heart. This moment taught me an entirely new respect for all Jews. I pray to G-d that this moment be forever preserved in my memory.”

 This excerpt clearly demonstrates that all Jews, regardless of background or affiliation, belong to the same family and in the same camp. In the desert, our ancestors demonstrated this concept through the canopy of clouds that encompassed and defined their camp. All Jews lived in the same place, all Jews occupied the same space, all Jews walked the same ground, and every individual was included.