The Dead and the Living
Inevitably we visit the mass grave where the Jews of Baranowitz are buried. Nowadays it is marked by a memorial pillar, but we discover that this is not the original gravesite. The local government decided to put a public building on the original spot, and "permitted" the tiny community of survivors to move the bones to the present location. We say Kaddish over the remains of the holy community, now memorialized in the yeshiva in Yerushalayim, Ahavas Torah-Baranowitz.
Our next stop was Radin. On the way, as we bounced around on the very rough road, R' Osher Katzman remarked that it seemed as if the road had not been repaired since one night long ago when he and his friends got stuck in one of the potholes.
It was the day that the news reached the yeshiva about the passing of the Chofetz Chaim, rabbon shel Yisroel. We rushed out to hire a wagon to take us to the levaya, but on the way the axle broke. There we were, enveloped in our mourning, forlorn on the wayside and beaten by the pouring rain. There seemed to be no hope. How could we find a replacement for the broken axle here, on a deserted road to a tiny village in the middle of nowhere?
The mashgiach of the yeshiva of Baranowitz, HaRav Yisroel Yaakov Lubchansky, was with us, and he offered a heartfelt prayer: Ribono Shel Olom, have mercy on these poor bochurim who used their last pennies to go for kovod haTorah and to participate in the levaya of the godol hador.
Hardly a few minutes had passed when suddenly a wagon lurched out of the darkness. The non-Jewish owner stopped and told us that he just happened by. Amazingly, when he heard of our problems, he found that he just "happened" to have with him a spare wagon axle, and we made it to Radin!