Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. My daily routine did not change. I am a wife and mother who works out of the home as well as in it, but I had to take some time to reflect on the horrors which occurred not-so-many years ago. Our predecessors, whose lives were cut short in the most despicable ways, were forcibly cut from the chains of our heritage with a blink of the eye. Without seeing the bigger picture, it is impossible to comprehend this heaven-shattering event.
Although one never knows what one is capable of until he or she is put in the situation, I always claimed that had I lived during those times, I would surely have succumbed. The whole event is so unfathomable and mindboggling. How any human being could have endured such existence is beyond my grasp. It wasn’t until recently though, that I began to think that perhaps I may have actually been there and did indeed join the millions of Jewish martyrs. (Before you institutionalize me, let me explain why).
I always believed in reincarnation, but it wasn’t until recently that I learned (from Rabbi Lazer Brody) that most, if not all of us are ‘recycled’ souls (neshamot), and that in most cases, we have been ‘reborn’ several times in order to correct our souls. I have a reputation at home for being stingy when it comes to waste, although I like to call it frugal. It bothers me to throw things out that we may need later or to discard even the tiniest bit of left over food, reminiscent of a person from the Holocaust. Not long ago I remembered a childhood incident which I believe I may have misinterpreted at the time. As a very young child, I had a recurring dream in which I was running and bees where stinging my back until I fell. I didn’t actually see the bees, but it felt like bees and I always woke up before the dream was completed. Only recently did it occur to me that those were possibly not bees at all…. but bullets. Because it is such a terrible thing to imagine, I probably shouldn’t even write it. And since I will never know the truth (at least in this lifetime) it is also pointless. But I think in some ways it may help explain some obsessions I have with genealogy and specifically, my great-great Grandfather, Kalman Lipovitch. Kalman and his wife Tauba, thanks to HaShem, had 11 children in Iwaniska, Poland which was at some point in history, part of the Ukraine. Both my great-grandfather and his brother left Poland before the war but I always wondered what became of the other 9 siblings? Were their grandchildren still alive somewhere in Europe or had they also emigrated before it was too late? The sad reality became known when I researched the Yad Vashem database of Holocaust victims. I found that at least 3 of his daughters perished along with their children, mostly in Treblinka. Tens of my relatives ceased to exist. And those are just the names I was able to confirm.
Today, when I think about the millions of souls whose physical journey was terminated, I can be somewhat comforted in knowing that they also began their spiritual assent, cleansed and purified. Like looking through a two-way mirror, we can only see our own reflection, yet G-d, in His infinite wisdom, is watching us from the other side and waiting for the right time to reveal His final truth.