Moshe Goldwaser <mauh2o@...>
We realized that this will not so simple. I explained to Mr. Biernat
that what was happening in front of our eyes, was nothing short of a
miracle. I asked him to think about the following chain of events. Two
weeks earlier, a Polish Pope >from Krakow, capital of Galicia, visits
Jerusalem, places a kvital (a note) at the Kotel (Wailing Wall) that is
located just up the road >from Midreshet Lindenbaum whose students are
here at his door step. This chain of events can't be just a coincidence.
Can't he see G-d's hand in all of this? Besides, we are not
speculators, middlemen, or anyone who would try to achieve some personal
gain >from the Torah scrolls. We are a religious educational institution
from Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the city where Jesus and Mary lived 2000years ago. I almost guaranteeing Biernat a seat in heaven right next to
Jesus, Mary, and the Pope. At some point I asked Mr. Biernat to stand up
and look at the faces of the girls. "Are these the faces of
Speculators?" He did stare at their faces and I realized that we were
slowly getting to him. Yet he still insisted that a rabbi for good luck
and safekeeping gave the Torah to him.
We decided to take another approach. I explained to him that the typical
life expectancy of a Polish male is the low sixties. He was already 76
years old and in great health. This shows that the Torah already has
fulfilled the rabbi's promise and I'm sure that he will live long a
prosperous life for many years to come. Still he refused.
Safira Rapoport suggested that since he helped rescue Jews by smuggling
them across the border, he might be eligible to be listed among the
Righteous of Nations in Jerusalem. This is a program were the State of
Israel honors righteous gentiles who during the Holocaust helped save
Jewish lives. We discussed this notion by still. No! No! No! We
explained to him that a Torah is meant to be read, used, and studied. It
is meant to be a live Torah in the hands of Jewish people. It was not
meant to be held for "safekeeping and luck." We tried to explain to him
that by keeping the Torah in a safe place all these years he has
fulfilled his obligation to the rabbi. Still No! No! No!
Mr. Biernat said that he feels pressured. I was thinking Pressure?
We have not even begun. I can't speak for the others but in my mind
the thought of leaving without the sefer Torah was out of the question.
Any way he felt that he needed three days to decide. Three Days. We
don't have three days! How about half an hour? The pressure on Mr.
Biernat was coming >from us and >from the fact that we interrupted his
feeding of the pigs. Some of the pigs were still not fed. This was a
problem for him. Not exactly top priority for us.
We looked at different approaches including obtaining just the large
portion. Still No! No! No! But he was softening. It is very difficult to
keep refusing 18-19 year old yeshiva girls who with tears in their eyes
are praying for the success of these negotiations. Finally, he said,
"What did you have in mind?" We saw an opening. I think that at some
point he realized that this is the proper thing to do. >from that point
on the negotiations did not last long. We settled on a price and the
most amazing thing happened. As soon as we exchanged the money, we
looked out and it stopped raining and the sun came out. It was an
incredible moment. One of the girls had a bottle of kosher wine and we
gave it to Mr. Biernat. There was singing, dancing, and not a single dry
eye on the bus. Four days later the Torah was safe in Jerusalem.
The sefer Torah is being restored now. It is my understanding that it
will be completed by Rosh Hashanah. It will be housed at Midreshet
Lindenbaum and used as a living kosher Torah on Heritage educational
trips to Poland. This was redemption of a sefer Torah by the Jewish
people and Jewish youth in particular. It was a joint effort by all of
us; every single person had a role in this event. We had secular and
orthodox, men and women, Israeli Jews and Jews >from the diaspora - in
short AM Israel. Our thoughts were with the brave rabbi >from 58 years
ago who pleaded not for his life but for the life a sefer Torah -
"Your Torah has come home to the Jewish people and once again it will
be used as a kosher, live Torah for generations to come."
A personal observation. As I kept translating the conversations. An
amazing thing was happening. My Polish kept improving as we went along.
My knowledge of Polish is limited to a conversational level that a small
child would have with his parents. Yet when I had to use Polish words
like "pope," or "education" somehow the words just came out. A day
earlier if someone would have asked me to say "Pope" in Polish, I would
not have known. HaShem works in mysterious way.
If anyone in Jewishgen world came across as story of a sefer Torah >from
around Sieniawa, Poland being given to a Pole for safekeeping, please
get back to me privately.