Posted by: cindybythesea | October 13, 2009

In everything give thanks

I don’t know about you, but, the biblical admonition to “in all things give thanks” has at times been a hard one for me.  It’s one in fact, that I have been struggling with all week due to a hardship my daughter is going through.  I see and hear her tears and as a mom, I want to not only dry those tears, but, make everything right in her world.  Because my heart is breaking for her, I plead with God for his wisdom, help and care, but, I sometimes find it hard in these kinds of situations to be thankful.   I’ve been thinking about this all week and asking, “Lord, how do you want me to pray?”  As I pondered this question, God answered my prayer in a most unexpected way.  He answered me by reminding me of his love and his charachter through a story on one of the blogs I read.  On Five Doves forum, someone had written in with the most amazing story about a group of Jewish men in a concentration camp during world war II, men who faced certain extermination just because they were Jewish.

 Let me set the story up for you, its winter and the Jewish fall feasts have concluded with the exception of one last day, the day known as Simchat Torah, (which means “joy of the Torah.”)   Its a special day for celebrating the unique joy and purpose the word of God brings to our lives.  In the synagogue,during the shabbat service, it is customary to lift the Torah scrolls high over head as they are carried throughout the congregation with dancing and great joy.  Its a visible and tangible way of elevating the word (the Bible as represented by the scrolls)  showing its prominence in our lives.  The men in the concentration camp did not have a Torah scroll, in fact, they had nothing,  stripped of all earthly possesions, even food, their captors did everything possible to dehumanize them.  The german guards relished the power and control they had over their prisoners.  But, in this instance, they are about to get a surprise, they would be witness to something completely unfathomable to their depraved minds – they would witness the power of the human spirit when that spirit recognizes that it belongs to God.   Read the story below:

Simchat Torah: The Dancing Souls
Tishrei 20, 5770, 08 October 09 11:23
by by Rabbi Lazer Gurkow
( Saved by the Dance
It was a cold autumn day; the skies covered with the perpetual cloud of ash that hovered daily over Auschwitz. A group of fifty young yeshiva students were herded into the gas chambers, ostensibly for a cold shower. This was
The bewildered Nazis stood just beyond the gas chamber and could not understand the meaning of the incongruous celebration.
well enough into the history of Auschwitz that the cold truth of the cold showers was well known to the young men. They all knew that the nozzles would soon open and bathe them in a cascade of noxious fumes that would choke off their air supply and drain them of life.

The Nazi guards – gleefully awaiting the usual onset of panic, complete with frantic banging on the doors, desperate efforts to reach the sealed windows and futile clawing against bare walls – were surprised by this unique group.

Just before the showers released their poison a young man addressed his friends.

“Brothers,” he cried, “today is Simchat Torah, when the Jewish world rejoices having concluded their annual reading of the Torah. During our short lives we have tried to uphold the Torah to the best of our ability and now we have one last chance to do so. Before we die let us celebrate Simchat Torah one last time. We have nothing; no clothes to cover us or Torah with which to rejoice. But we have G-d who is surely here among us today. So let us dance with G-d Himself before we return our souls to Him.”

With this, he placed his hand on his fellow’s shoulder and fifty young men broke out in joyous dance, the song of Vetaher libeinu leavdecha be’emet (“Purify our hearts to serve you with sincerity”) on their lips.

The bewildered Nazis stood just beyond the gas chamber and could not understand the meaning of the incongruous celebration. The beastly commandant, who was accustomed to humiliated, broken Jews, could not countenance this spectacle of Jewish pride and flew into a rage. Bursting into the chamber he grabbed the first boy and demanded to know the reason for the dance. Calmly, the boy replied, “We are celebrating our! imminent departure from a world ruled by beasts such as you.”

The commandant decided to put an immediate end to the festivities with a cruel announcement. “You think you will escape your tortuous existence in the peaceful gas chamber, but I will grant you a truly painful departure. I will spare you today, but tomorrow I will torture every bone in your bodies; I will slice your flesh till you expire.”

The commandant ordered the boys released from the gas chambers and housed in a barrack overnight. Despite their fate, the boys celebrated Simchat Torah all night with joyous song and dance. They sanctified G-d’s name by dedicating their last night to expressing gratitude for the privilege of their Jewishness and for the precious gift of the Torah.

Later that night, the boys were miraculously selected for transport to another camp by a high-ranking Nazi official who was not aware of their “crimes.” This selection saved their lives and Auschwitz survivors testified that the entire group survived the Holocaust.(1)

*After reading this amazing story, I was reminded that it is the giving of thanks in the most dire of circumstances that we are most emptied of self and focused on God.  When we are weak, He is strong!  When its still possible to do things  in our own strength, he is never really glorified. For this reason, I liked the simple encouragement given in the story, “God is surely among us today”.  Yes, God is surely among us today.   And with that in mind, we have more than enough for which to give thanks.











  1. Wow very touching story, hard times are coming to this nation and there is proof of FEMA camps which if used the way nazi germany used them, millions will soon find out personally just what it was like for the Jews. I pray that the righteous in this country will continue to be righteous and lean upon the lord, that maybe he will spare us this terrible fate or rapture us before it starts. We all need to prepare ourselves for how to handle terrible situations in a way that honors and glorifies god.

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