“At the end of the day attitude can make the difference between life and death.” ~ James Peninger Sr. ©
Attitude- a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically reflected in a person’s behavior.
My family celebrated hanukkah last month as most of you already know. One of the things we did during hanukkah was read from a book called “Small Miracles of the Holocaust”. It was a book I had already been reading on months before but had been making extremely slow progress. Every time I would read in the book I would start crying. We read more as a family during hanukkah and actually managed to finish the entire book. Hanukkah as many of you know who read my blog regularly or are already familiar with hanukkah is a time to celebrate the miracles in life, big and small, past and present. It seemed very fitting to take the time to remember some of the miracles of the holocaust at that time anyway. Now it is the beginning of the end of the gregorian year 2013 and one of the lessons I took from that time is very fitting to share with you all to help you out in the beginning of the gregorian year 2014.
I had been thinking a lot about the lessons I have taken over the last few months, especially during hanukkah from reading “Small Miracles of the Holocaust”. The big lesson is “attitude changes everything”. The quote at the beginning of this blog came from my own head and I google searched it to see if it had ever been said before and no results came back for that exact quote so I copyrighted it and posted it as a stat update on my wife’s facebook page. It is very true though: “At the end of the day attitude can make the difference between life and death”.
Most of the victims of the holocaust who perished physically died first spiritually. The thing I mean by spiritual death is that they lost the will to live, they felt less than human because of the torment they endured. Their attitude was one of hopelessness. The nazis were brilliant and wicked. They excelled in demoralizing and dehumanizing every jewish victim to rob them of a positive attitude. The crimes the victims of the nazis endured is heart breaking to say the least. Many of the victims attitude became “How could their Elohim forsake them?”. YHWH never left their side. He was with everyone of them. He allowed them to be tested by satan. A separation of the wheat from the chaff. Another holocaust is going to come, while the first holocaust serves as a warning about what is to come. The next holocaust will be much larger and much worse. Many holocaust survivors have shared their stories. Those stories inspire generations of people and help build their strength and faith.
One story in the book “Small Miracles of the Holocaust” tells the story of a Rabbi who was friendly and was eager to greet everyone with a smile. His love and outreach caused the most vicious anti-semite in his town, to spare his life. The anti-semite had joined up with the nazis and he was the one selecting who would go to the gas chamber and who would go to the labor camps. The rabbi greeted the man at the time of selection in the camp, like he did every day before on his morning walks. The rabbi was past the age of being a workable slave and had some health problems. He would have been sent to the gas chamber had his dedication to loving and reaching out to everyone, including anti-semites had not been so great. That is a miracle and shows that love is more powerful than hate. It is one of the many instances where attitude at the end of the day saved someone’s life, at least temporarily. I do not know if that rabbi survived the labor camps but I do like to think he did.
Another story is of two young ladies who were about to die in a labor camp. They risked death one shabbat to observe the sabbath. If they had been caught they would have been executed for what the nazis labeled as lazy. They desired to keep the sabbath to honor YHWH and to regain the strength to survive. Their attitude and faith was strong. In turn a miracle was given to them. During that sabbath, nazis came to the camp looking for people to work at a better facility that would not be so grueling. Obviously not every prisoner had a job outside of the camp walls, even though those girls did. Our Elohim led those girls to those nazis that day for the transfer. The nazis doing the transfer had no clue they were skipping their assigned jobs. They were transfered and were able to recover their strength because the work conditions at the new camp and factory was much better than the camp Elohim brought them out of.
I wish to share one last story from the book that amazed me. I cried and laughed while reading this story. It was heart warming and very inspiriting to say the least. It is this story that made me want to write this blog about the importance of attitude. The story is about the faith of 50 boys being saved miraculously from the gas chambers. It was pesach (passover). Most camps had a rule that anyone under the age of 16 was to be sent straight to the gas chambers. One camp had a rule of 18 years old. The camp this story is set in, is the one where it was 18 years old. There were 50 boys that were 16 and 17 years old brought into that camp on passover. They were unloaded from the cattle cars and sent to the gas chamber. While in the gas chamber waiting to be gassed and die they decided to hold a seder. A seder is a religious ritual of remembrance and worship on Passover.
They knew they were going to the gas chamber because of their age. They wanted to die singing praises to YHWH our Elohim. The joyful music arose from the gas chamber. The nazis guarding the doors knew the gas should have already killed them. The nazis sent for technicians and the camp commandant. The gas chamber malfunctioned. The camp commandant ordered the door to be opened and one of the young boys was ripped out of the chamber and was asked what was going on. The boy proclaimed: “Today they were being set free from a wicked world of death and despair run by wicked and filthy nazis.”. They were singing praises to the most high Elohim YHWH who would take care of their souls.
That of course enraged the commandant! He ordered all 50 boys into holding cells where he would slowly torture the joy out of them before their death. The next morning the gestapo walked in and ordered all of the 50 boys released so they could be relocated to a work camp before the commandant ever got to torture one of them. It was near the end of the war and the factories were in desperate need of slaves to keep running. The camp commandant did not dare reveal his wicked plans to the gestapo because the commandant would have been in major trouble for trying to stop the gestapo. It was reported that the boys left the camp singing praises to YHWH. It is also reported that all 50 boys survived the holocaust.
That story was amazing to me because of many things. However something stuck out about the number of boys and the act. All 50 boys sang praises to YHWH when they knew they were going to die. Their attitude was not the normal weeping, wailing, screams, and prayers that filled the gas chamber. It was songs of joy and worship. The gas chamber miraculously malfunctioned, when nothing was found to be wrong with the gas chamber. The next thing is the number 50. There are two things about the number 50 that stuck out like a sore thumb to me in this story. The first is that when Abraham pleaded for the life of Sodom the first thing he asked YHWH was “What if there are 50 righteous men? Will you still destroy the city?”. The second thing is that the number 50 is the number of jubilee or deliverance according to the scriptures and torah. Jubilee means liberty. Leviticus 25 describes the 50th year as a jubilee. At the beginning of the year of jubilee all debt is wiped out and all slaves are to be set free. All slaves are also to be set free once every 7 years according to the Torah. The year of jubilee is proclaimed with a trumpet (shofar) blast on Yom Kippur. The number 50 is mentioned 154 times in scripture. Fifty is also connected with the coming of the kadosh (holy) spirit. The giving of the torah happened 50 days after passover. Just like the kadosh (holy) spirit was given 50 days after Yeshua was crucified on passover.
The 50 boys attitude was not one of: “Why me?”! “Why did Elohim forsake me?”! Their attitude was one of joy in spite of terrible circumstances. One of giving praise in the storm to Elohim. That attitude saved their lives because YHWH heard their songs of praise and spared their lives for His glory!
I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of the book “Small Miracles of the Holocaust” from your local bookstore or online or wherever you acquire books from.
Many times throughout our lives we live with a bad attitude. We doubt anything could get better. We doubt we can lose weight or doubt whatever. We put ourselves down too much and never try to lift ourselves or others up. I wrote another blog a while back called “Are you blessing or cursing yourself?”. I recommend you check it out after reading this to learn more about how important attitude really is.
Here is the link to that blog: