“ K A H A N E”
The magazine of the authentic Jewish Idea
Tevet 5737 January 1977
And the reality for American Jewry is that the Galut, the bitter exile of the Jewish people, did not stop at the western shores of the Atlantic and was not barred from entering the United States. The exile – that bitterest of all curses, punishments and sins – cannot and will not ever be a sweet refuge. The curse of the Tochach (admonishment) will never be changed even though Reform and Yeshiva men alike rip out its pages from their Torahs. “And the L-rd shall scatter thee among all peoples… and among these nations shall thou have no peace.” How we ignore those Torah parts that disturb our tranquility! How superb we are at rationalizing them away! How angry we become at those who persist in speaking about it. How we prefer to create the myth of American Jewish bliss that nothing can disturb since “it cannot happen here!” but, the reality is that it will because it must, because the All Mighty knows full well that unless we are forced to, we will never go willingly back to the Land.
And the reality of Soviet Jewry is that never since Stalin have they faced such a potential for pogroms and physical threats. The illusion was that public protests and demonstrations could only hurt and when Jewish militants disproved that, the myth arose that it was really the twice-a-year establishment picnics and the respectable protests that had been the true cause of the sudden emigration flow and that became a delusion that everything would always remain as a permanent victory. But, the reality is that Jewish refusal to mount ever-greater attacks on détente and Jewish betrayal of Henry Jackson and now the worst perfidy of them all – the Israeli and Jewish treachery and selling out of all Soviet Jews who will not go to Israel – are all things that are aiding a potential Holocaust for Soviet Jewry. Where is the sense of urgency, where is the note of emergency? They are the realities and in the delusion that is born of such apathy, we prefer not to see the danger and be forced to act and do unpleasant things.
We are a people that dearly loves to fool itself and deeply resents those who refuse to allow us to. But the reality is here and it is clear. Jewish destiny and Jewish history are not things of chance, of permutations and combinations. They are directed and ordained and we cannot avoid that which shall be unless we do that which should be. A refusal to be Jewish under the pretense of being “practical” will only make us un-Jewish and the most impractical of peoples.
Faith. Only this is the key to the redemption and salvation of the Jew and how tragic it is that from one end of the spectrum to the other, from the secularist and Marxist Jew to the pious, practitioner of ritual in the yeshivas, real faith and real understanding of this era and the call of Jewish destiny is so lacking. It is the era of the final redemption that can come so quickly and so magnificently if only we are prepared to believe in the G-d of history, the Jewish Creator of all and director of that which will be. There is a Jewish destiny that awaits us and this is ours for the asking and taking. The Messiah knocks and the door waits to be opened if only we turn the key. The key is faith; real faith. Faith based on courage and boldness and sacrifice. Faith that is more that lip service but is measured by three intensely practical concrete yardsticks:
1) Faith and courage in knowing that the rise of the State of Israel is the decree of the L-rd and the end of the humiliation of the exile. That every victory won by Jews is proof that the L-rd, G-d of Israel, is the true Creator and the Decreer of history. That every retreat and defeat is a retreat to that Hillul Hashem that saw two millennia of humiliation for the Jew and his G-d. That retreat from Jewish land, from any part of Eretz Yisroel is a Biblical prohibition and is more than a retreat from land. It is a retreat from Kiddush Hashem, a retreat from redemption, a retreat from faith in G-d, a retreat from Jewish Destiny. “Not one inch” is not a political or military imperative – it is a theological and Torah cry. If we stand firm and call out to the L-rd, rejecting fear of man and rejecting need of man if that need is based on prostration and fawning flattery – then we will have been true in one aspect of our faith. Then we will have rejected the stupid, impractical and unrealistically mystical belief in the gentile – in Man – and returned to the practical realistic, Jewish believe in trust in the All Mighty.
2) Faith and courage in leaving the comfortable Exile with its fleshpots and luxuries that so tempts us and seduces us. The strength to leave comfort for duty, obligation and -commandment. The courage to choose to fulfill the difficult mitzvah of living in the land rather than wallowing in the impurities and spiritual filth of the Exile. The faith in G-d that allows us to admit that we, irreligious and religious alike, small and great together, have sinned against the land. Rejection of the rationalizations and false “pilpul” that helps us to stay and rot in the inevitable graveyard that the Exile will become. Faith in the land, strength to go home.
3) Faith and courage in doing what we must for fellow Jews. Feeling the pain of each and every Jew who is in pain and the readiness to sacrifice and suffer with him, to save him. A rejection of apathy, a throwing off of indifference, a burial of fearful contemplation and selfish interests. Massive and powerful demonstrations and attacks on the Russians – clear warnings at what awful thing could happen should Soviet Jewry be under physical attack.
Massive and powerful protests now, even before the full United
States pressure begins against any possible US strangulation of Israel.
Jewish action instead of reaction. Massive and powerful demands
that American Jewish leadership become democratized so that the poor
and the elderly and the weak will be aided so that Jewish funds go only
to help Jews. Faith and courage to consider what the gentile wills
say and to reply: Who cares? Faith and courage to know that if we do
what the All Mighty wishes – the love or hate of the gentile is irrelevant.
Three acts of faith that can absolve us of our three transgressions. Only thus can we be practical, realistic, pragmatic. Only by being Jewish can we stop being ridiculously mystical and believe that our salvation lies in the hands of the gentile. We are a people that is different, that is chosen, that is great, that can never be destroyed. Why do we persist in refusing to recognize ourselves? Why, if we are giants, do we insist on being dwarfs?
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