Would you say that the people who were killed in the Holocaust died al kiddush Hashem?
When people died in the Holocaust, there are two ways of looking at it, and both are true. Now, there were many who died and they were not weakened in their emunah in Hakodosh Boruch Hu; they were people who wanted to keep the Torah if they were able to continue to live. I knew talmidei chachomim personally; temimim, tzaddikim, muvcharim in chochmah and da’as who were killed. These people, had they lived, they would have continued to do good things. So when they died, no question they died with kabalas ol malchus shamayim. ואהבת את השם אלקיך בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך – “And you should love Hashem with all of your thoughts, and with all of your soul,” and the gemara says: בכל נפשך אפילו בשעה שנטל את נפשך – “Even when He takes your life, you should love Him.” I’m sure these people did that.
And therefore when frum Jews died, it was a special zechus for them, and their misah was mechaperes for anything that they did; and no question that they became bnei olam haba.
Now, the not-frum Jews, those who persisted down to the end in disobeying the Torah, there’s a certain limud zechus on them – not that they were tzaddikim, but since they were killed because they were Jews, they deserve some credit. Yes, anybody who was killed because he was a Jew deserves some credit. However, if that credit is enough to make him a kadosh, I don’t think it’s enough. If he didn’t daven and he didn’t put on tefillin down to the last minute then he’s not a kadosh. In some cases there were tefillin in the camps. And he didn’t put on tefillin because he didn’t want anything to do with it. He didn’t care about Yom Kippur – not even at the last minute, so the fact that he was killed as a Jew, should that mean anything?! He didn’t want to be known as a Jew. Had he had the opportunity, he would have become a meshumad. In Budapest just before the destruction came, many Jews, many thousands were upshmading themselves every day in Budapest. So to say that this man deserves credit now, it’s very hard to say.
Still there is something there. I’m sure something was deducted from his onesh for the fact that he was killed because he’s a Jew, but is it enough to save him from the onesh that was waiting for him in the other world? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
TAPE # E-123 (September 1997)