A short time ago, a well-respected individual from London flew to Eretz Yisrael and called Rav Eliyahu Mann shlita, one of the prime disciples and attendants of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita. He had a very important sh’eilah to ask – actually it was a request from his mother back in England – and he did not feel up to the task of personally approaching the tzadik.
He asked if Rav Mann can bring the sh’eilah to Rav Chaim. He explained that his mother was a survivor of Auschwitz and she suffered through many months of torture and pain, losing her entire family in the process. In fact, she endured two long stays in Auschwitz – even after she was transported from there to a different camp, she was brought back later. The man explained that just the other day, his mother sat him down and said to him the following words: “My dear son, during the war, I passed through seven levels of Gehinnom. There are no words to describe what I experienced. But through it all, I never uttered one word of complaint. When I lost everything in the war, my family, my friends, and my childhood, how was I able to stay alive through it all? I will tell you, my son. During those terrible days, I felt that I had a Father in Heaven Who was watching over me, and I would speak to Him constantly. What did I say? I would pray a short prayer, a prayer that was always on my lips. It is something that we daven every Monday and Thursday: ‘Habeit miShamayim u’r’ei, ki hayinu la’ag va’keles ba’goyim, nechshavnu k’tzon la’tevach yuval, la’harog u’l’abeid u’l’makah u’l’cherpah. U’v’chol zos shimcha lo shachachnu, na al tishkacheinu.’ I said to my Father in Heaven, ‘Father, even though I see all this death and destruction in front of me, and even though I am living through Gehinnom, ‘b’chol zos shimcha lo shachachnu’ – nevertheless, I will never forget Your name. I will always turn to You. So, please, ‘na al tishkacheinu’ – do not forget me, do not forget my name!
“These are the words that were always on my lips, and it gave me encouragement and chizuk to remain strong throughout those horrible years – until the Americans came and liberated us. Thank G-d I was saved, I remained alive, and I managed to build a wonderful family here in England. But, my son, I will not live forever. The day will come that I will leave this world. I will stand before the Heavenly Tribunal in my final judgment. Please, I have one request: that after 120 years when I go to my final resting place, take a piece of paper and write on it these words from the Tachanun that I shared with you, and place it in my hand. This is the prayer that I said to my Father in Heaven when times were tough, and He saw me through. With this prayer I wish to come before Him once again, before His Heavenly throne, and I hope and pray that it will save me from the fires of Gehinnom.”
Rav Mann went to his rebbe and told him what the woman said. “The question is: Is one permitted to write holy words on a paper and bury them in this fashion?” Rav Chaim listened intently and his eyes moistened with tears as the righteous woman’s words were relayed to him. He took a few moments to compose himself and then he said, “One needs to check if these words are words of Torah or t’filah.” A complete Tanach was brought to Rav Chaim, and he quickly leafed through the entire volume. Finally, he proclaimed, “It is not a pasuk, so it is permitted. If it had been an actual pasuk, it might have been deemed a bizayon (shaming) of the words of Torah to place them in a grave. But since it is a t’filah, it is okay. Still, place the paper with the words on it in a vessel inside a vessel (kli b’soch kli) and place it in her hand.”
Rav Mann stood up and was about to take leave of his rebbe. But Rav Chaim suddenly looked up at him and said, “But the Ribbono Shel Olam does not need any papers!” His intent was clear: A woman of such great emunah and bitachon will not need a piece of paper to merit a good judgment; she will succeed based on her own z’chuyos.
Rav Mann asked Rav Chaim if he should relay these last words to her son and he replied, “No, it is not necessary to tell her this. Since she feels so strongly about this, and it will give her comfort to know that she can write these words on a piece of paper and have them with her in her grave, let her do as she pleases.”
Rav Chaim explained that of course Hashem does not need any papers or any other form of “convincing” when it comes to a person’s judgment. But he told her it was okay so that others might see and fortify themselves in the halachic areas of not shaming holy words, lashon ha’ra, and Torah study – and it will all be a further merit to her everlasting neshamah.