Holocaust

Kohein whose vocal cords were damaged - can he duchen - v4 #9 by R' Aaron Cohen


14:00 minutes (2.53 MB)

A Kohein, attempting to smuggle a piece of bread for his sick mother, was caught by the Nazis and beaten mercilessly. His vocal cords were permanently damaged and his voice was barely audible. While suffering great emotional trauma, he turned to Rav Oshry with trepidation to ask: Is he still allowed to fulfill the Mitzva of Birkas Kohanim, despite the difficulty in making his voice heard to the Tzibbur?

Reference Material (pdf)

Keeping remnants of Sifrei Torah in one's home - v4 #21 by R' Aaron Cohen


11:12 minutes (2.05 MB)

Rav Oshry notes that the savagery of the Nazis and their cohorts was also directed at articles of Kedusha such as Sifrei Torah, Seforim, Tefillin, etc. One individual, a descendant of the Vilna Gaon, had a Sefer Torah that had belonged to the Gra and was passed down in the family through the generations. Despite his efforts to hide the Sefer Torah, he found it after the liberation torn to shreds. Could he keep the remnants of the Sefer Torah in his home as a memorial to his family, or did he need to bury it in the ground as the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch prescribe?

Putting on Tefillin that was found without checking its Kashrus - v4 #19 by R' Aaron Cohen


6:03 minutes (1.17 MB)

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, survivors were faced with a shortage of Tefillin. Some pairs of Tefillin were found in the possession of non-Jews, apparently taken from homes and Shuls as the Jewish communities were ravaged. Given the extenuating circumstances, could these Tefillin be used without checking their Kashrus?

Reference Material (pdf)

Fulfilling Krias Shema by listening - v4 #13 by R' Aaron Cohen


9:26 minutes (1.75 MB)

After the liberation, Rav Oshry searched for Jewish children who had been taken into non-Jewish families. He found a 14 year old boy wearing a cross, who asked Rav Oshry incredulously if there were still Jews left from the Kovno community. The boy eagerly went with Rav Oshry and was entrusted to a foster family. He had no knowledge of the most basic elements of Torah and Mitzvos and could not read Hebrew, and the question arose how he should initially fulfill the Mitzva of Krias Shema.

Boy who does not know his age - putting on Tefillin - v4 #17 by R' Aaron Cohen


12:06 minutes (2.21 MB)

Families desperate to save their children from the impending Holocaust sometimes paid non-Jews to take their children in, and the children were disconnected from the Jewish people during the duration of the war. After the liberation, great efforts were made to locate and bring these children back. One such child, whose family had perished, was around the age of 13 but it was impossible to determine his exact age. Should he put on Tefillin presently?