Stars in Heaven and Angels in the Earth:

 

I merited to catch up to our group of teens in the forest outside of Tarnow.  This forest is one of the most touching and painful sites.  It has a clearing in which over a thousand Jewish children were murdered.  It is a children’s grave.  There are no names of the fallen.  The mass burial spot has a monument and it is surrounded by a fence.  It is a most touching site.  There are many small Israeli flags that have been left around the fence.  A French group put up a sign in French with the verse in Hebrew and French, את אחי אני מבקש, I am looking for my brothers.  Some groups have brought balloons, stuffed animals, and child friendly ribbons that they have tied to the fence.  The spot hits hard.  Images come to mind.  Children screaming.  Mothers wailing.  Innocents dying.

 

As I was coming to the clearing it was very dark.  Pitch black.  The forest was cold. The wind was biting.  I looked up and saw hundreds of twinkling stars.  I looked down and could not see my way.  I found the setting meaningful.  This was the path through the forest to the grave of the children.  Myriads of  stars were glittering up there while down here I was in the midst of the modern plague of darkness.

Gemara Bava Basra teaches that the verse ומצדיקי הרבים ככוכבים יזהירו, those who provide merit to the masses will shine like stars, refers to teachers of little children.  The teacher of young children is frequently unappreciated.  People think that he must not be too sophisticated.  He only teaches basics.  It is certainly not the case.  The verse is teaching that the teacher is likened to a star.  When we look at a star, we see a glimmer, in truth it is a powerful light.  The teacher inspires generations.  Masses gain from him.  He is the real star.

 

In our forest,  little children were buried.  They never had a chance to grow, inspire their families and grandchildren and enable their teachers to have the merit of masses of souls.  But they have become the teachers.  They inspire us.  Standing there and feeling such a deep and aching pain forces each of us to look for what is really meaningful in our lives.  Dr. Strobel bared his soul to our group.  He spoke about how standing at such a place reminds him of the love parents have for children.  Parents always love their children.  A parent would do anything and everything to try and shield a son or daughter from pain or want.  The children have become the stars. The children have become the מצדיקי הרבים.  They shine into us and make us pray with a real depth,

וזכיני לגדל בנים ובני בנים חכמים ונבונים אוהבי ה׳ יראי אלוקים אנשי אמת זרע קודש בה׳ דבקים ומאירים את העולם בתורה ובמצוות ובכל מלאכת עבודת הבורא.

and give us the merit to raise children and grandchildren who will be wise and understanding, lovers of Hashem, fearful of Heaven, individuals of integrity, holy offspring, attached to Hashem. And may they illuminate the world with Torah mitzvos and every form of Divine service.