Friday, August 12, 2005

What Is the Blessing For Martyrdom? - A Question From The Kovno Ghetto - 1941

A Jewish man named Eliyahu who had fled from Warsaw to Lithuania, thus escaping the German snare, was aware that most people waiting in the plaza would be put to death by the following day. He asked me, "What is the precise text of the brocha that sanctifiers of G-d must recite before being put to death? Does one say 'asher kideshono bemitzvosov al kiddush Hashem' [Who hallowed us with His commandments and command us about sanctifying the Name] or 'vetzivonu lakadeish es Hashem' [...and command us to sanctify the Name]? He wished to know the precise text to use in order to fulfill what might turn out to be his final mitzvah. Besides, he wanted to tell as many people as possible what blessing to recite if their turn came to die.

(Rabbi Ephraim Oshry)