** Webmaster Note: The following
is a translation from Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov
as sponsored by George Zilbergeld.
Additional clarifications are provided in parenthesis ( ).
THE SPIRITUAL SOURCE
I almost do
not remember my father, of blessed memory.I was very young when he died.But my mother stands before me as if she were alive, and
I always think of her.She was a symbol of a pure-hearted woman.I don't remember her ever sitting with her hands folded;
she always had plenty of work to do.
her difficult life, the life of a widow, in amazing silence.She was modest and G-d-fearing.Sometimes she would read the Tanach [Bible].The book Tsena U'Re'ena [a Yiddish commentary on
the Bible for women] did not depart from her eyes; she would
study it deeply and found in it fountains of blessing for
educating the next generation and instilling ethics in their
one impart these values of Judaism to children?" she would
when I read the poem by H. N. Bialik "My Mother, of Blessed
Memory," her noble image appears before my eyes.To her, the life of the soul and spirit was the main
thing, and material life was unimportant.This is the idea that is expressed in that poem, and it
is as if his wonderful lines arise in my heart all by
of blessed memory, was a completely righteous woman
And in her
widowhood, she was wretchedly poor.
It was the
Sabbath eve; the sun was at the tops of the trees –
And in her
house, there was no candle and no festive meal.
searched and found more.A miracle, two small coins –
with candles!" – she decided.
and returned, and in her thin hand the holy burden:
for the blessing.
almost opened her dim eyes and I saw
of the seven days [of Creation] shining there
Shechina [Holy Presence of G-d] kissed them –
of the righteous woman will stand
For us and
all of Israel."
Only a poet
like Bialik was able to find such deep and faithful expression
of the image of his mother, who certainly resembled many other
righteous and pure mothers.
But I do
not have the strength of a poet in order to raise many, many
spiritual gems of the magnificence of a Jewish mother, and bring
them up as a spiritual asset.
was an honest and sincere woman.I never saw her in consultation with chattering,
gossiping women; she never was jealous of others and she did not
complain about her difficult situation – she bore her burdens
quietly and with love.
only in secret; she also knew how to explain her conduct from a
wish to transmit her values to others.More than once, I heard her explanation of the verse, "Me'ayin
yavo ezri?" ["From where will my help come?"]:
is written [The Hebrew word "me'ayin" in this verse means
"from where" but it can also mean "from nothing".]Truly, if we deserve it, help can come from nothing,
apparently from not a thing, in any case, not from material
educated us in this spirit – to be satisfied with a little, with
what there is, without any hatred or jealousy of others.
When I was
a little girl, I would come and tell my mother, with great
sorrow, that I had seen pretty dresses, pretty socks and the
like at my friend's; I would complain that I didn't have such
would look at me with sadness that had in it some higher
understanding, and quietly say to me:
daughter, have you ever seen one of your girlfriends wearing two
pairs of socks at the same time?Or two dresses one on top of the other?You also have one pair.You have nothing to complain about, my daughter."
raised her voice.
She would speak and explain calmly and pleasantly.I still have a bundle of letters from her and every once
in a while I return to them as if to a wellspring.I leaf through them and wonder at all of the glory and
kindness hidden in them.They also will tell me about all of the poverty and
sorrow, and the lights of hope, the hope to immigrate to the Land of Israel, the Land of her longings, to be
together with me and to merit that all the rest of her children
would also come here.
days before that bitter day – the day of the massacre – she
already knew that we had no escape from the hands of the
hangmen, and she begged my brothers to do everything they could
to escape, and that their love and concern for her should not be
a hindrance to their rescue.Indeed, two of my brothers succeeded in fleeing and
brother had been drafted into the Red Army.
alone that day on her last road, the road of annihilation.I am certain that at that moment, her heart was not
concerned for herself, but for her children who were seeking
refuge and escape, and for me, her daughter, who was so far away
on safe shores, and that she was praying that G-d would help us.
once, I have asked myself, what was the spiritual source of the
people of our town?
After the few lines I have written about my mother, of blessed
memory, it is superfluous to add an investigation of the roots
of our lives and the values of our souls.Here, this is the source!There were many others like my mother in our town, and
from this came the spiritual climate.In our day, these roots have grown new buds and branches,
and the Zionist movement was one of these – the youth
organizations, the library, the school, the dramatic club,
activities on behalf of the Zionist funds, and the like.
enthusiasm, dedication and good will that in the past had served
in the fields of religion, now began to be revealed in new
fields – the blue charity box, found in almost every home.Everything that happened in the
awakened echoes with us.We found new bottles for old wine: here, for example,
before the Passover holiday – as in the past, now also, certain
homeowners established temporary bakeries for baking matzot.We girls, members of the movement, volunteered to roll
out the matzot every day – hard work that was done manually.We stood and rolled for entire days.Our feet were hurting and our hands swollen, but our
hearts rejoiced and were proud – we did what we did for the
Jewish National Fund.
great characteristic it was – the various organizations, stormy
arguments – all for the sake of Heaven, in other words:in order to prove that the movement to which you belonged
was the best one and that its path was the right one.I belonged to the Beitar movement.How many are the experiences and memories I have – I
remember the arrival of the first lecturer, Dr. Lipman.To this day I remember his lecture, his warnings, the
interruptions and his well-aimed answers to his opponents.And I do not have to say how great was the emotion and
excitement of those whose hearts were drawn to the Beitar
here, we accompanied Lipman to the nearby town of
Brezhnitz.From now on, mutual visits began between us and the
nearby towns and our connections became stronger, because we
were not from different settlements – the Beitar movement made
us into a single unit.
appears before me the image of our dear friend, Aharon Milstein.He was the officer of the local group.Most of his time was dedicated to the movement, but he
did not merit to fulfill his dream and immigrate to the Land.
wonderful people and enterprises.Among these, our library deserves to be mentioned.I was active in and for the library for a long time – if
one considers the population of our town, which was not very
large, the library, in proportion, was very large and deserves
contained many books in Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian.
many sources for obtaining books, and our members invested a lot
of hard work in all of them.There were plays, the income from which was dedicated to
of us wore costumes on Purim and appeared as clowns who went
from door to door, presenting skits from a program at each house
and receiving a cash payment, which also was dedicated to the
field, Pesach Tscherniak, who was a talented comic, was
thus, all of the means were used to obtain one book after
school was closed, the library was perhaps the main source from
which we drew Torah and knowledge.These matters, of course, relate to those who remained in
the town and did not leave it.But it should be pointed out that many of the sons of the
town travelled to other cities to learn Torah.I will not miss the truth if I say that our youth was not
at all backward, in comparison to youth from other places.The desire to know was great, and what prevented them
from obtaining an education through accepted public channels
such as a school, they obtained by themselves.I will not exaggerate if I will say that they were
killing themselves in the tents of Torah.
youth from big cities would visit us, we were able to see that
we were not backward, not worth less; on the contrary, we saw
that we were better than they were.Our assets were more established and deeper.They, sons of the big city, certainly saw more films than
we did, and even theatre presentations.But they were marked by superficiality and frivolousness,
which are outstanding signs of those who are easily given
everything, and our members always indicated gravity and
seriousness, and an unusual thirst for learning.The learning was generally auto-didactic, but the
lectures and literary causes that we organized helped a great
deal to deepen and widen our knowledge.
there were many librarians, and each of them invested his best
energies and abilities in the library.Here, I wish to especially mention Yosef Beider and
Miriam Komisar, both of blessed memory, who were active in the
library for many years and did a lot toward its improvement and
library was lost, together with its founders and caretakers.But those who survived remember its blessed source, a
source faithful to our youth – who were thirsty for knowledge.