Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Moshe Split It - Rav Meir Simcha Stopped It

This story was related by two eyewitnesses, one of them a young lad who would later become the head of the Mossad named Isser Harel [from the book להיות יהודי].

That year it happened that upstream of the Dvina River, the snow and ice started to melt suddenly and earlier than usual. At the time it was still very cold in the area from Dvinsk to Riga Bay. As a result of the melting, the water rushed into the Riga Bay, but it was met there by the still remaining snow dam. And so, the water started to rise rapidly. The storming river and huge pieces of ice caused great damage. Many nearby villages were swept away by the torrent and the bridges over the Dvina River were completely destroyed.

The gushing water was approaching the big snow dam that surrounded and protected Dvinsk. The shadow of death hung over the city... 

On Shabbos morning the situation got desperate. At any minute the river would either overflow or break through the dam. My father didn't know what to do, whether he should stay with the family at such a dangerous time or go to the morning service in the synagogue, to join in prayer with the rest of the community. Finally he decided to go to the synagogue and I joined him. In the middle of the prayers, which were unusually emotional and constantly interrupted by desperate screams, some Jews entered the synagogue with the frightening news: in a little while the city would be destroyed! 

Rav Meir Simcha, covered with his tallis, rose up from his seat and went toward the dam. The whole community followed him in their Shabbos clothes. The Rav climbed on top of the dam and started to pray for the safety of the city. All of a sudden, while the Rav was still occupied in his prayers, the ice cracked, started moving, and with a loud noise, rushed to the downstream part of the river! The water started receding right in front of our eyes!

All of the citizens, among them Christians and even the hardened anti-Semites, did not doubt that they owed the righteous Rav for their miraculous salvation. The Rav himself, of course, did not take any credit. He had simply pleaded to Hashem.