After World War II, there was a concerted effort to reunite displaced Jewish children with their parents or relatives. Thousands of kids were hidden from the Nazis on farms, in cellars and in convents all across Europe.
A particular Rabbi, Eliezer Silver headed up some of that effort. Apparently he had a report that some Jewish children had been hidden in a monastery in the south of France. But there were no records about the children and their names didn’t really help. Last names like Schwartz or Kaufmann could have been from any good German family, Jewish or Gentile.
All of the children spoke only French and they couldn’t remember a time when they didn’t live on the monastery grounds. With a flash of brilliance, Rabbi Silver asked to visit the wards where the children lived. He stood in front of them and began to sing in Hebrew. He sang the words to the “Shema” (Deut. 6) that every Hebrew child memorizes very early in life.
As the story goes, “A handful of faces lit up, and tiny voices from around the room joined in. They recognized these ancient words from their bedtime prayers and from their earliest memories of the mothers and fathers reciting them each morning and evening during their prayers. “ (Walking the Dust of Rabbi Jesus by Tverberg)
Needless to say, he was able to identify many of those children as Jewish kids and it helped with the search for their families.
I love stories that have “happy endings” but this one is also wonderful because of the way it reaffirms the need for our children to hide God’s word in their heart and to do so starting very early in life.
Every morning for the past 33 years, the students of Stoneybrooke have begun their day by reciting a pledge to the Bible. It comes out of Psalm 119 verse 11: “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”
Hiding God’s word in our hearts is such an important discipline in the life of a Christian adult as well. Memorizing the scripture is the “food” for our souls. We need the nourishment and sustenance it provides.
So this week, let’s remember the impact of memorizing God’s word and make it a personal priority. Regardless of our age, it can be done. Random, unrelated verses are often the toughest to memorize, so maybe start this week with a passage that has 5 or 6 verses on the same subject (like Ephesians 1, or Philippians 4, or James 1). And let’s start today!