The Angel from Auschwitz

By Rabbi Mendy Piekarski

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The Angel from Auschwitz
photo by Rabbi Mendy Piekarsky Rabbi Mendy Piekarski conducts a pre-Shabbat service for senior care center, some of whom are children of holocaust survivors.
Here is a meaningful story that I recently heard about a man who was considered an angel for so many people. His name was Sol Teichman. He was a successful businessman and philanthropist who dedicated his life to helping others. He passed away a few years ago, but his legacy lives on. Sol was once asked, “Why do you help out so many people?” He responded with the following story: “I was born in Munkacs, Ukraine in 1927, and I experienced the horrors of the Holocaust first hand. In 1944, I was rounded up by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. When I arrived, there was a long line leading up to an S.S. officer, who was deciding who would go to the right and be sent to slave labor or go to the left and be sent to the gas chambers. “While I was waiting in line, a Jewish stranger approached me and asked, ‘Excuse me, when were you born?’ I replied that I was born in 1927, but the stranger insisted that I was born in 1925. I didn’t understand why the stranger was asking me this question, and I kept telling him that I was born in 1927. The stranger insisted and said, ‘Trust me, I know your family, and I remember when you were born, it was 1925.’ That said, the stranger turned around and disappeared. “When it was my turn and I came to the front of the line the Nazi soldier asked me ‘When were you born?’ I found myself saying that I was born in 1925. The Nazi soldier pointed to the right, and I was sent to work. “I ended up surviving Auschwitz, Dachau, and other slave labor camps, and eventually moved to Los Angeles. “At a later point in time, I found out that anyone who was in that line with me and was born after 1927, was sent to the left instead of the right. That stranger had been an angel for me and saved my life.” After finishing the story, Sol answered: “That is the reason why I make sure that no one leaves my house empty-handed. I want to be that angel for others.” There are so many powerful moments in this story. That G-D ordained that this stranger should help Sol at the exact moment that he needed help, and that Sol took the message and empowerment and went on to create a life that focused on helping others. So many times in life, G-D sends us blessings. We always have what to be grateful for in life. The question then becomes what do we do with those blessings? How do we respond with gratitude and use those blessings to help others? Here are a few questions I would like to invite you to think about: • What blessings do I have in my life? • What can I be grateful for today? • How can I help others, so that they too can be blessed? Thinking about these questions can help us refocus our energy, to be in a constant state of gratitude and giving. This can really change our outlook, and affect ourselves and those around us in a positive way.

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