Like the cartoon I posted on April 7, I also got this tidbit, written by Menachem Rosensaft, from All Generations:

It is told that Reb Azriel David Fastag, a disciple of the Hasidic Rebbe of Modzhitz, spontaneously composed and began to sing what has become the best known melody to Maimonides' twelfth Principle of Jewish Faith while in a cattle car from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp.

Ani ma'amin be'emuna sh'leima, b'viat hamashiach; v'af al pi she'yismameya, im kol zeh, achakeh lo b'chol yom she'yavo. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry, nevertheless I will wait every day for him to come."

A young Jew managed to escape from the Treblinka-bound train, taking with him the niggun, the melody, of Reb Azriel David Fastag's Ani Ma'amin. Eventually, the melody reached the Modzhitzer Rebbe who is said to have exclaimed, "With this niggun, the Jewish people went to the gas chambers, and with this niggun, the Jews will march to greet Moshiach."

I was supposed to be inspired by this anecdote, I think. The subsequent words had something to do with faith and resiliency and blah blah blah. However, it has the opposite effect on me - it makes me furious. Why were these people sitting around waiting for the Messiah to come when it was clear that action was needed? Faith can be a beautiful sustaining element in difficult times. But clearly it can also blind people or make us complacent, causing us to sit back and wait for divine intervention rather than do something to help ourselves.

Around this time, another group of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto had decided that the Messiah was clearly not coming. On April 19, 1943, the first night of Passover, they rose in arms (or with as many arms as they could smuggle into the ghetto, which was not nearly enough) and repelled the Nazis who had come to liquidate the few thousand Jews who remained in the ghetto. The brave fighters - men and women - made good on the exhortations of a leaflet, distributed in December 1942, from one of the organizing groups:

Do not go willingly to your death! Fight for life to the last breath. Greet our murders with teeth and claws, with axe and knife, hydrochloric acid and iron crowbars. Make the enemy pay for blood with blood, for death with death. Let us fall upon the enemy in time, kill and disarm him. Let us stand up against the criminals and if necessary die like heroes. If we die in this way we are not lost.

The uprising shocked the troops. Although the Jews were grossly outnumbered, they held out until early May.

We are not lost.

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