Even in the Valley of Death

One of Eitan Katz’s must-hear songs, the heartfelt “Ki Le’olam Chasdo,” selects the last few pesukim of Tehillim 136, “Sh’beshifleinu zachar lanu… ki le’olam chasdo —Who remembered us in our affliction, for His kindness is forever… Who redeems us from our troubles… Who gives food to all flesh… give thanks to the G-d of the Heavens, for His kindness is forever,” for a plaintive niggun of assurance and thanksgiving.

The song was inspired by Katz’s meeting with Holocaust survivor Mr. Rene Slotkin, who, together with his twin sister were one of the few surviving “Mengele Twins.”

“Mr. Slotkin asked me if I wanted to know how he had survived Auschwitz as a little boy, and he showed me the numbers tattooed on his arm. He had added up those numbers facing him — 190691 — and realized that they totaled 26, the gematria of Hashem’s Name. ‘Hashem was with me, and that’s why I’m here,’ he said. Looking at the number from the other side of his arm, as the Germans did, it reads 169061. The sum of those numbers, 23, is the chapter of Tehillim where we find the pasuk ‘Gam ki eilech begei tzalmaves, lo ira ra ki Atah imadi ‘[Even as I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear evil, for You are with me]. It was the presence of Hashem alongside him that had saved Mr. Slotkin, and Hashem continues to be with us always… redeeming us from our troubles, because His kindness is forever.”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 778)

Ki LeOlam Chasdo
Eitan Katz
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