Thursday, March 28, 2013

Delivering on Promises

I ran across an article in the NY Times yesterday about the first rabbi to enter Buchenwald concentration camp and proclaim freedom to the Jews held in captivity there. Herschel Schacter died last week at the age of 95.   It was especially powerful for me to read this article during this week when Passover and Holy Week are being celebrated simultaneously. 

I re-experienced Passover and the Exodus Monday evening at a friend's home for dinner--and I was reminded about how God, through Moses, led his people to freedom after  centuries in bondage. Passover reminded me that God delivers on His promises.
And it is Holy Week as well, a period during which the ultimate sacrifice by a man provided the ultimate freedom from the slavery of sin and death for all. A price was paid for my freedom and too often I forget the price. And I also often forget about how God delivers on his promises.
The article about the first Rabbi into Buchenwald who was able to proclaim freedom to the captive Jews there reminded me of the prophesy in Isaiah 61:1: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. (NIV)

But he did so much more, he took action. The story in the NY Times recounts the story of Schacter meeting a small boy in the Camp.  

As he passed a mound of corpses, Rabbi Schacter spied a flicker of movement. Drawing closer, he saw a small boy, Prisoner 17030, hiding in terror behind the mound.
“I was afraid of him,” the child would recall long afterward in an interview with The New York Times. “I knew all the uniforms of SS and Gestapo and Wehrmacht, and all of a sudden, a new kind of uniform. I thought, ‘A new kind of enemy.’ ”
With tears streaming down his face, Rabbi Schacter picked the boy up. “What’s your name, my child?” he asked in Yiddish.
Lulek,” the child replied.
“How old are you?” the rabbi asked.
“What difference does it make?” Lulek, who was 7, said. “I’m older than you, anyway.”
“Why do you think you’re older?” Rabbi Schacter asked, smiling.
“Because you cry and laugh like a child,” Lulek replied. “I haven’t laughed in a long time, and I don’t even cry anymore. So which one of us is older?” 
Rabbi Schacter discovered nearly a thousand orphaned children in Buchenwald. He and a colleague, Rabbi Robert Marcus, helped arrange for their transport to France — a convoy that included Lulek and the teenage Elie Wiesel — as well as to Switzerland, a group personally conveyed by Rabbi Schacter, and to Palestine.
Isn't that really what it is all about? Being a representative for God to those around us and letting them know that He cares. It is about how we take this week of remembrance and move forward for the rest of the year in the confidence of knowing that God takes action and delivers on His promises.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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