Rebbetzen Kramer and Auschwitz

Someone once said to a Holocaust survivor, “It must have been so horrible in the camps.” The survivor replied, “It wasn’t horrible,” to which the person asked, “How could it not have been horrible?”. The survivor said, “Of course, horrible evil happened in the camps. However, there, people were unable to do most mitzvos, and yet they tried so hard to do whatever they could. In the world today, people are free to do pretty much all the mitzvos, and they choose not to do them, they don’t care, or they don’t even know the mitzvos exist at all. That is worse”.

I read the above on a forum for Jewish women today, and found out that the exert was taken from a book about Rebbetzen Chaya Sarah Kramer- a woman who survived Auschwitz and lived to inspire millions. And as I read this passage, once, twice, three times, I stopped and I thought. Pretty much any Holocaust survivor is an inspiration to me. Simply because, from my point of view, anyone who has been through the horror and darkness that was the Shoah, and come out the other side, is worthy of praise- worthy of listening to and learning from. Some of them tell us they survived because they had no choice. Others tell us that it destroyed them and they wished they hadn’t lived through it. And then we have this quote, telling us that the spiritual state of the world today is worse than what happened in the camps.

I’m just not sure.

I’m not sure how anyone could say that and mean it- how anyone could be on this level- and I’m sure that those of you who read this will provide me with scholarly quotes to back up Rebbetzen Kramer- an inspiration who needs no backing up, as I am in awe of her and am in no way arguing with her. But as I sit here, my mind is thrown back to the quote I posted here yesterday, from Anne Frank. I wonder, if Anne had lived, would she have been a Rebbetzen Kramer? Perhaps, despite her early death, she was anyway. Maybe we can all be Rebbetzen Kramer.

Anyone who lives through something horrific- even if it isn’t the Shoah- and survives when they don’t know how to, in some unfathomable way, going on to try their very hardest to share some sort of light, is just like Rebbetzen Chaya Sarah Kramer to me. Those of us who did not live through the camps can barely imagine what we went through- and yet we can make up for the darkness she faced by spreading light in this world.


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