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Do You Feel The Pain Of Your Brethren?
A Lesson from Our Father upon His 21st Yahrzeit
And Pharaoh rose up at midnight… (Exodus 12:30)
Regarding this passage, Rashi, whose commentaries are always concise and pithy, and whose work is a key component to understanding the Torah, explains: “Pharaoh got up from his bed” it is difficult to understand what Rashi intends to teach with this comment. It seems so obvious; from where, if not from his bed, would Pharaoh have risen? Our beloved father, Rabbi Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis, z”tl, told us a story that clarifies Rashi’s remark.
During World War II, Hungary was one of the last countries in Europe to be occupied by the Nazis, but prior to the German takeover, young Jewish men were conscripted for slave labor. Our father’s older brother, Yosef Dov, a brilliant young Talmudist, was forced onto a truck one night by the Hungarian military police and taken to a slave-labor camp. From that day, his mother, our grandmother, the Rebbetzin Chaya Sora, o.b.m., refused to go to bed. Instead, she sat in her chair the entire night, weeping and praying for Yosef Dov. The youngest son, our father, was the only one remaining at home. He felt a responsibility to care for his mother, and ever so gently, he would plead with his mother to lie down and rest.
“How can I rest? How can I lie down in my bed when my Yosef Dov is not here?” she wept. And so, she sat in her chair, night after night, until the day that the Nazis came and deported her and the entire family to Auschwitz, where most of them were murdered in the gas chambers.
Egypt was on fire. In every home there was devastation, but the heartless Pharaoh slept in his bed.