Last week’s Yated Shabbat insert has this amazing story of Torah saving a Jew’s life!
In Darmstadt Germany between the 2 world wars there was no Jewish institution where boys could get an education and learn Torah. The boys learned in the local German institutions. It is ironic that only in 1934 with the passing of anti-Jewish laws prohibiting Jewish children from participating in state schools did the Jews make a separate school for their boys.
In the general school there were also Jewish hours where Rabbi Eliezer Warhaftig, who later became the founder of Yeshiva Chayei Olam in London, taught the Jewish studies. Asher Wasserteil was one of his students who edited the “Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata” book on the laws of Shabbat in later days.
In Miketz, (last week’s Torah portion) the students learned the verse stating: “And they approached the man in charge of Joseph’s house and they spoke to him from the entrance of the house.” (Genesis 43, 19) The Rashbam explains: “In the entrance, before they went in.” What was the Rashabm stressing with those words?
Rabbi Warhaftig dramatically explained how Joseph’s brothers were afraid for their life and refused to enter the house knowing that inside it would be more dangerous. tThat’s why they preferred to wait “at the entrance” and that’s why the Rashbam stresses the words “before they went in.”
The 15th of Cheshvan 5699, NOVEMBER 9, 1938
The Nazis destroyed the Darmstadt synagogue (amongst hundreds of others) in what became known as “Kristallnacht” the night of broken glass. Jews sought refuge in their homes. Asher who was 17 at the time was running home.
“When I came to the bakery at the corner of the street a man very kindly invited me in. hearing his kind voice, I followed him. He alighted the three steps in front of the bakery when I noticed three bakers in their baking uniforms behind the counter. I though perhaps they want to harm me and I remembered the Rashbam as Rabbi Warhaftig dramatically explained to us why Joseph’s brothers did not want to enter his house”.
“I kindly asked the man, “and what do you want me to do here?” At that moment he grabbed me and tried forcing me into the bakery. I pushed him with all my might and his hands slipped off my raincoat and he fell in the bakery entrance blocking the other younger bakers from pursuing me. I was a good runner and I disappeared into the house of the Katzover family that lived nearby.”
“It’s hard to imagine what would have happened if I didn’t at that moment remember the lively lesson of Rabbi Warhaftig dramatically explaining us the Rashbam about waiting outside the door and not going in. To this very day I can’t shake off the thought that this little explanation of the Rashbam saved my life from the clutches of the Nazis.”