After the Nazis invaded the small village of Klausenburg, Romania, they began to celebrate the “defeat” of the Jews in their usual sadistic fashion. They gathered the Jews into a circle in the centre of town, and then paraded their Rebbe, Rabbi Yekusial Yehuda Halberstam (1905-1994), into the centre. (The Rebbe was taken to Auschwitz, where his wife and 11 children were murdered.)
The SS guards began taunting and teasing the Klausenberger Rebbe, pulling his beard and pushing him around. The vile soldiers trained their guns on him as the commander began to speak. “Tell us Rabbi,” sneered the officer, “do you really believe that you are the Chosen People? The soldiers guarding the crowd howled in laughter. But the Rebbe did not. In a serene voice, he answered loud and clear, “Most certainly.” The officer became enraged. He lifted his rifle above his head and sent it crashing on the head of the Rebbe. The Rebbe fell to the ground. There was rage in the officer’s voice. “Do you still think you are the Chosen People?” he yelled.
Once again, the Rebbe nodded his head and said, “yes, we are.” The officer became infuriated. He kicked the rebbe in the chin and repeated. “You stupid Jew, you lie here on the ground, beaten and humiliated, in a puddle of blood. What makes you think that you are the Chosen People?” With his mouth gushing blood, the Rebbe replied. “As long as we are not, and would not be able to be the ones kicking, beating and murdering innocent people, we are the chosen people.” At that time, trying to stop the bleeding from his wounds – he promised himself that if he ever survived the war, he would create a special Jewish, Glatt Kosher hospital – which would provide full medical assistance to anyone – regardless of ethnic or religion!
The Rebbe survived the war and came to America, where he remarried, had again children, and built a grand Hasidic movement. He also promised to himself that if he ever survived the camps, he will do everything he can to provide medical assistance to anybody, regardless of their race or religion. True to his own commitment, he initiated, and built from scratch the beautiful Laniado hospital, located in his own Hasidic suburb of Netanya, Israel, which treats with dignity and medical expertise – jews as well as Arabs from the nearby “West Bank”…
Best regards and wishes for a speedy שלום על ישראל בע”ה
Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld