Our senior account specialist was hard at work calling sponsors past to see if they’d be willing to help sponsor Oorah’s upcoming 2016 auction. She reached one fellow, made her request, and received an unexpected response: He’d be happy to help sponsor this coming Oorah auction, but not until he keeps the neder he made to someone in the Oorah office, this past June.
Now, in case you don’t know, a neder is a vow. And it’s serious stuff. If you make a neder, there’s no getting out of it.
That’s why, most of the time, when people make promises, they end the promise with the words: bli neder, to specify that they’re not making a vow. They do that because you never know what’s going to happen in the future and who knows—maybe something will come up to keep you from keeping that vow. It’s better to be on the safe side and say that your promise is not to be understood as an actual neder.
But this neder, the one this anonymous Oorah sponsor made, was an important one. His father, you see, had been in Auschwitz. Not only was he in Auschwitz, but he was there from the very beginning of the Holocaust.
It is an absolute miracle that any Jew survived the Hell that was Auschwitz, with its starvation diet, rampant disease, hard labor, and torture. But to think that someone survived all that for years on end, is a miracle beyond all miracles.
After Liberation, this man’s father found he was the only person in his family to have survived the war. Moreover, he discovered, the entire Jewish population of the town he came from in Poland, had been completely wiped out. Eviscerated.
He was the sole survivor of his family and of his town. And he was a miracle. As the sole representative of his line and of his town, he remained absolutely and completely frum. Hitler, may his name and memory be erased (yemach shmo) would not have the victory of robbing this Jew of his faith. He had survived for a reason and would not stain the name of his family or the town he came from by leaving his faith by the wayside.
He stayed frum and he was lucky enough to have a son. This son, too, was a faithful Yid, a frum Jew all his life, like his father, and the only frum male to represent his line. This was the sponsor who made the neder, the sponsor our senior account specialist had phoned. He’d made a neder to Oorah that if any grandsons are born to him, he will give Oorah money to pay for a bris (circumcision) ceremony for an Oorah family.
And yes! The man was blessed with a grandson last June. Thrilled with this blessing, this continuation of his line, a line of faithful Yidden, they and their faith surviving even through the brimstone of the Holocaust, he called Oorah and arranged to pay for one bris for one Oorah family.
Just as he’d promised.
He’d kept the neder.
Or so he’d thought.
But as it turns out, he wasn’t done yet. Something happened. He received another gift from Hashem, the gift of a second grandson, against all odds. Another miracle.
As such, the man came to the conclusion that he had not yet fulfilled his neder! He’d vowed to pay for the bris of an Oorah family if only he’d have a grandson and you see, it had happened AGAIN, when he’d thought it never would, the first time around.
How happy he was to continue his line, to have more frum males in the family, and so he asked if he might pay for another bris for another Oorah family.
The only caveat? That Oorah makes sure the Oorah representative he spoke to last June is informed that the neder has been kept. “Now that we’ve taken care of that,” he told the senior account specialist, “We can talk about me sponsoring Oorah’s 2016 auction.”
That is what he said, at any rate, and we, those of us at Oorah, would tend to believe him.
Being that he is a man who keeps his word.