There's an inspirational story that is very popular on God based websites. Here is the version I am familiar with that was forwarded to me on Whatsapp many times before Yom Kippur:

This story is true and appears in Chinuch in Turbulent Times by Rabbi Dov Brezak published by ArtScroll

About 30 years ago, an earthquake in Armenia killed over 30,000 people in less than four minutes. One father raced to the elementary school his son attended only to discover that the building no longer existed; it was a heap of rubble. Recovering from his initial shock, he remembered the promise he made to his son: “No matter what, I’ll always be there for you.”

Although the situation seemed hopeless, the distraught father was determined not to give up. What kept him going was his promise to his son.

He mentally retraced the steps he took each morning when he brought his son to school and figured out where his son’s classroom was located under the rubble. Racing over to the spot of the no longer existing classroom, he began to dig through the rubble.

Other well-meaning parents tried to pull him off the debris, saying, “It’s too late. There’s nothing you can do.” But he just kept digging, responding to the skeptics with one sentence, “Are you going to help me or not?” They did not help him, and so he continued on his own.

Firefighters arrived at the scene of the tragedy and also tried to dissuade him. “We’ll take care of it. Go home.”

The father remained undaunted and just asked, “Are you going to help me or not?” No help was forthcoming because the rescue teams felt they could better use their resources where there was still hope of saving lives. At this site, it didn’t look like there was anything they could do.

The father proceeded on his own, committed to the promise he had made his son. “No matter what, I’ll always be there for you.”

He dug for 12 hours, 24 hours — 36 hours. In the 38th hour, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. He screamed his son’s name and heard a voice reply, “It’s me, Dad! I told the other kids not to worry. I told them that if you were alive, you would come to save me, because I knew you would keep your promise, ‘No matter what, I’ll always be there for you.’ You did it!”

When the building collapsed, the beams fell in a triangular wedge that protected this boy and 13 of his classmates.

This story is true. It is also a parable; a parable for Yom Kippur.

I've also seen this story on Christian websites as well such as here: He has promised He will always be there for you

Is this story true?

  • 7
    The story comes from the 1998 book A Father Who keeps His Promises by Scott Hahn. You can read it his original presentation here: scribd.com/book/626003398/… Hahn's story states it was 1989 but the earthquake hit Armenia in 1988. It's also really doubtful that parents would just give up on digging out a school because "their muscles began to ache" as he states.
    – Legion600
    Sep 28 at 5:04
  • @Legion600 that seems to be a decent answer. Thanks for the link.
    – TheAsh
    Sep 28 at 17:25
  • 1
    It's not an answer. It's a good starting point to look for one.
    – Legion600
    Sep 28 at 18:22
  • The earthquake hit in December 1988 and people were still talking about it in January 1989. Perhaps that detail in Hahn's story is a minor detail the editors didn't catch.
    – shoover
    Sep 29 at 21:30
  • 1
    Related story about 1988 Armenian earthquake survival hoaxes: rferl.org/a/…
    – shoover
    Sep 29 at 21:30


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