Rav Avigdor Miller on The Apikoris in the Gas Chamber

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Q:
The Rav gave an example tonight of people in the concentration camps who were still rejecting Hakodosh Boruch Hu even at the very end. The Rav also spoke about how yissurim take off some of the punishment even without kavanah. But if someone rejects it all together, an apikoris, will it still be an atonement for the person? Or is it totally wasted?


A:
If a person is at the shaarei muvess, at the gates of death, and he is still a kofer, he’s still an apikoris, when he walks into the gas chambers to be put to death, does his death accomplish something for him? Now I’m not capable of telling you that. It could be that it’s a kaparah; although we have no example in the gemara for that. The gemara in Sanhedrin (47a) says that all the מומתי בית דין, all those who are put to death by beis din, get a kaparah. But those people, before they die they say vidui, and vidui after all is a vidui of emunah. He says חטאתי לפניך השם, “I’ve sinned before You, Hashem; forgive me,” and then beis din puts him to death. So there, surely his misah is a kaparah, no question about it, because he said vidui before he died.

But suppose a man went to his death, and he was still a mumar at the last moment – that I cannot tell you. I hope it’s a kaparah, but it’s up to Hashem to give that answer. I can’t answer that.

TAPE # 946 (December 1993)