In 5704 (1944), while World War II was raging in Europe, Agudas
Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel arranged for a special aliya laregel during
chol hamoed of Pesach. Thousands came to the special event. Many of
them arrived on a special train that was chartered for that purpose.
The high point of the trip was a gathering in Batei Machseh Square in
the Old City where the leaders of the yishuv addressed those
Rav Moshe Blau z'l: The Eternal Does Not Lie Am Yisroel Will Have
The theme that had been chosen for the gathering was "Hashem's Voice
Is Speaking To Us From The Flames" and all the addresses were suitably
fiery. Rav Moshe Blau z'l, the unforgettable leader of Agudas Yisroel
in Eretz Yisroel, managed to skillfully weave together the two
irreconcilable threads that hung in the air: the genocidal massacres
on the one hand and the ascent to Tziyon on the other.
Resplendent in his streimel, he delivered the opening remarks by
welcoming the thousands of celebrants on behalf of the Central
Committee of the Agudah in Eretz Yisroel, on behalf of the Agudah in
Yerushalayim and on behalf of the Eida Hachareidis. He then continued,
his heart overflowing with the devastating troubles that Klal Yisroel
was experiencing but even in the depths of despair he managed to find
a note of hope and comfort.
" 'Hashem is K-eil (the Name of might) and He has made it light for
us' (Tehillim 118:27) He will illumine the black darkness that we are
living in at present!
" 'Tie [the offerings of] the chag with ropes!' Now is not an
opportune time; there is no room in our hearts for the joy of the
festival. Nothing in the world can awaken rejoicing in our hearts when
we remember the millions of our brethren who have been murdered in
sanctification of Hashem's Name, the Torah academies that have been
destroyed and the holy communities that have been devastated.
"And as we devote ourselves to celebrating the festival despite all
this, it is only because we hearken to our orders, to the will of
Hashem who has commanded us to rejoice on our festival, one of the
eternal commandments of the eternal Torah that is independent of time
and of circumstance. We are rejoicing on our festival because we are
Hashem's servants; it is about us that the posuk says, 'Give praise,
servants of Hashem'! (ibid. 113:1).
"Just as 'this itself is His might' — that he restrains His Hand
before the enemy His might is also revealed in our celebration of
this festival in accordance with His command, even though there is no
room in our hearts for joy. Happiness and rejoicing do not want to
dwell in our hearts but we are commanded to bind them to ourselves
with avosim, with thick, double ropes — against their will and
against our own.
"We must bind the celebration to ourselves with ropes, even, 'until
the corners of the Altar' (ibid. 118:27) even when we remember the
altars upon which myriads of our brethren in the diaspora have been
sacrificed — their souls departing in the millions upon the
altar of sanctification of Hashem's Name.
"And as we come together here with thousands of our brethren in Eretz
Yisroel who have gathered in the Holy City, our message to them must
be: Don't give up! Hakadosh Baruch Hu has not despaired of us. He has
faith in us. And we shall not despair of His salvation. We believe in
Him and in His promises. The eternal does not lie! Am Yisroel will
have a remnant!"
Rav Zalman Sorotzkin zt'l: From Berlin Came Haskalah and
The next to arise was the patriarchal figure of the Lutzker Rov and
chairman of Vaad Hayeshivos, HaRav Zalman Sorotzkin zt'l, who later
served as chairman of the Moetzes Gedolai Hatorah and of the
Directorate of Chinuch Atzmai. With his thundering voice and uncommon
gift for public speaking, he bewailed the destruction of the European
Jewish communities. He himself had been "there" when the war broke out
and in Hashem's kindness, was fortunate to have escaped from the vale
"While the Mikdash stood, Jews would come [there on the regolim] to
see and to be seen. Now too, we have come to Heaven's gate to hear and
to make ourselves heard. We have come to make Hashem's voice heard,
speaking to us from the tempest. When someone is hard of hearing, two
measures are taken. We call to him loudly and we go next to him and
yell right into his ears. This is how Hashem is now calling us, since,
because of the yetzer hara, we were too hard of hearing to hear His
cry to 'Repent, wayward sons!'
"He, yisborach, is [now] calling louder, screaming the screams of
calamity that are heard in our camp — but to no avail.
Therefore, we must go nearer and approach the gates of Heaven, from
where the voice from Heaven emanates: 'Repent, repent from your evil
ways, Beis Yisroel!' Perhaps here at the holiest spot in the world we
will merit hearing Hashem's voice.
"Oi, had we been worthy, we would have come up to hear 'Hashem's voice
in splendor' (ibid. 29:4) but now that we haven't, we shall be hearing
'the voice of our brothers' blood crying to us from the earth'!" (see
HaRav Sorotzkin mentioned the two battles that Yisroel fought against
Amoleik. "The first was at Refidim and it was over in a day. The
second was in the time of Moredchai and Esther and it lasted for three
days. And now," he roared, "our blood has been spilled like water for
five years already!
"The reason for this is that Amoleik and his angel Samael must be
fought on two fronts. Yehoshua fought them with weapons and Moshe, on
the hilltop, fought with hands outstretched to Heaven, to win
Yisroel's hearts back to Hashem. There were two fronts in the time of
Haman too. Esther worked on the diplomatic front to influence the King
to annul the evil decree while Mordechai donned sackcloth, gathered
the young children and decreed a three day fast, by day and by
"At present, we and the civilised nations are only fighting Amoleik on
the material front. When will we open the second front the spiritual
front against Samael and his teachings? Who will ascend the hill for
us, to raise his hands and signal to Yisroel to return to Hashem?
Perhaps at this aliyah la'regel, Agudas Yisroel will succeed in
shaking everyone's heart and calling into our ears, 'Go and let us
return to Hashem! — for He has smitten us and will heal us!'
(Hoshea 6:1-2) He has smitten us, no other!
"We see that from Amaleik's capital, Berlin, where haskalah came from,
breaching the religion of Moshe rabbenu and Klal Yisroel, the Nazi
legislation also came, to kill, destroy and eradicate us chas
vesholom. As Chazal say, 'The book and the sword came down from heaven
intertwined' — 'If you wish and listen... and if you refuse and
End of Part II