Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Va'eira, Guest Post by Rabbi Pinches Friedman

On maintaining the purity of Jewish Traditions and the importance of rejecting foreign influence in our cultural and personal lives.                 Link

On the topic of changing our primary self-perception from "Jew" to that of "citizen of our host country", a friend brought me a copy of Life magazine from April 18th, 1938.  The magazine had a few pages about the Jews, with a special focus on the then-current troubles in Europe.  There are pictures of terrified Jews who heard that a pogrom was starting, of elderly men at a seder, of the stores in Germany with each window labeled with a perfectly well centered and calligraphic
all rendered as only Life magazine's artists could.

There was a paragraph on one page that caught my attention, a remarkable paragraph.  It's not news to anyone.  Reb Meir Simcha said it, Reb Elchonon said it; and it was true in Spain, and it was true one hundred times before.  It was just strange seeing it in Life magazine.
"Of all the countries of Europe, the Jew loved Germany best.  There, he became more German than the most patriotic Junker.  Jews all over the world reflected this feeling.  In the 19th Century, Germany became the cultural capital of world Jewry."
I always wondered, what's wrong with being a patriot?  Nothing.  On the contrary.  To not have hakaras hatov to the country that sheltered you is despicable.  But we're not talking about hakaras hatov.  We're talking about a level of patriotism that Life magazine found remarkable- more German that the most patriotic Junker.  Chazal tell us that they merited the Geula because they retained the markers of the Jewish People, but I'll bet we'll find a Chazal that says that they were super-loyal Mitzrim before the Avdus started.

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