Rav Avigdor Miller on Prayer and Teshuva To Be Saved From Hitler
Why didn’t the gedolim in Europe gather all Jews together for fasting and teshuva the same way as Mordechai did when he saw a Holocaust coming?
And the answer is the gedolim in Europe didn’t have any influence at all and I can testify to that. I’ll give you a mashal. I was in Slabodka which was a suburb of Kovna. Kovna was the main town of Lithuania and the Kovna Rov was the most important Torah authority in all of Lithuania. And yet, no newspaper would publish anything that he said. If he would come out with a proclamation that we should pray to Hashem, they’d all ridicule him. At most, if he would have the boldness, he could print up some leaflets and post them in some batei midrashos. But the people didn’t come to the batei midrashos anyhow — very few people came, so who would listen to him?
I’m sure that he prayed himself. I’m sure that in the Slabodka Yeshiva they prayed. I was present in Slabodka when Hitler marched into Sudetenland, and they prayed; oh, how they prayed. But outside of the yeshiva, the populace was hostile to the yeshiva boys. They despised the yeshiva boys; they called them patronet. Patronet means parasites.
And that’s because the Jewish public was in the hands of the newspapers; everybody read the newspapers. And the ewspapers were against keeping the Torah, they despised the Torah. The people were poisoned – even the shomrei Shabbos Jews were poisoned by the newspapers. So how could the Torah leaders have anything? The Agudas Yisroel had a little newspaper that came out once a month – once a month! Mizrachi had a little rag that came out once in two weeks – they had no influence at all. And therefore the rabbonim couldn’t call the Jews and summon them to do teshuva in Europe – it was out of the question.
And you think it was better in Hungary? No, it wasn’t much better there. In Hungary the Reformers were the leaders. Everywhere, the Reform rabbis were the ones who had the influence over the public and therefore it wasn’t possible. They didn’t call the people to repentance because the people didn’t want to be called —and therefore the yeshua didn’t come.