Friday, May 23, 2008

Wake Up (Set Your Sights)

The well-known Meshech Chochmah (Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk) on the posuk “ואף גם זאת בהיותם בארץ איביהם לא מאסתים ולא געלתים לכלותם להפר בריתי אתם” in our Parsha, Bechukosai, explains the inevitable advent of destruction when Jews abandon the Torah and become assimilated and depraved. Many see this as a prediction of the Holocaust, which occurred less than two decades after his passing.

I, however, disagree with this approach. A prediction should be much more precise and focused. Rav Meir Simcha in fact points out the difference between the cyclical history of Gentiles versus that of the Jews; whereas Gentile empires, after “ripening” in might, size and glory, become degenerate, narcissistic, interested only in their enjoyment and material well-being lose their determination for survival, they are struck down by an inferior, yet determined and ferocious nation. This chain of events is observable in all major civilization-empires known to us: Assyria, Media, Persia, Greece, Rome, et al.

In contrast, whenever the Jewish nation follows a similar path, they incur immense retribution and suffering (I assume this is what is taken as prediction of the holocaust, in light of his extremely descriptive language), but aren’t annihilated; they survive as a nation despite the terrible calamity.

The really puzzling item, to me, is how the author throws together all Jews – Orthodox, secular, reform, etc. - in his criticism. Of course all denominations are deserving of ample criticism, but there are huge differences between these groups. How can one criticize great talmidei chachomim, reformers, common folks, secularists in one sentence – and for the same thing? Is it possible to say “יחשוב כי ירושלים היא ברלין – he shall imagine that Berlin is Jerusalem”, as a combined repudiation for both the lamden and the atheist? How could this be?

I think the answer is simpler than expected – perhaps when our link to the creator becomes so external, so routine, so “מצות אנשים מלומדה”, there is no more difference between frum and not frum. When we, as a whole, exercise our Yiddishkeit so outwardly and routinely that it becomes just a matter of culture or communal adherence – we’re no different than secularists, atheists and reformers. When real yearning for bais hamikdosh is no longer burning in us, when we feel so at ease in golus, when we feel too comfortable in front of the gmora, that’s when Yiddishkeit is truly in danger. When even the sincere ones aren’t so sincere – it’s not for G-d but for the clan or the self, then there is no other way but to fulfill the contract through extermination and calamity, which ultimately results in a phoenix-like revival.

It may seem contradictory to the Torah/Yiddishkeit's uniqueness – consisting in being every Jew’s lot, as imperfect as he may be- but there is a great difference between the average people being imperfect and the entire nation being soaked in gashmius and “self-ism”. We don't live the Torah anymore. The frum seem to ignore bain odom lachvero’s existence, while the self-righteous falsifiers sanctimoniously use this as an excuse for their trampling of the Torah. This is our great problem today.
The writing is on the wall. Neo-Communism (officially named ‘progressivism’) from the West, massacre (officially named “the religion of peace”) from the East, and economical havoc from everywhere, disaster looms while we await the impending doom.

There is no other way but to wake up, repent and unite.
So wake up, wake up and set your sights.

© Joseph Izrael 2008


Garnel Ironheart said...

I liked this post. It fits in with my reason for living in a small Jewish community with limited resources and facilities rather than the larger, "holier" one in the next town over. In the big city, a frum Jews forgets he's in golus because, consciously or subliminally, he has recreated the lifestyle he believes the ideal Jew should lead. How can life in Israel top that?
In a small town, however, you know you're in golus. You can't help but want something better and "well, one day I'll move to Toronto or New York" seems so second-rate compared to "one day in Israel".

J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

I've heard the small-town point afew years ago from a guy who lives in Akko. While a fine observation, what I wrote about runs a lot deeper.

Small town or not, kollel or not, we just sink in our 'self', be it Gmora, heavy metal, sgulas, muscle cars, tishen of rebes etc etc..
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