Friday, February 22, 2008

On relationships...

Dovid writes here:

Anyways, the story of Masada is beautiful and inspirational. To see the mikvaos and to hear about the religious life of these warriors brought it all home for me. These people were rebelling. They “sinned” with their suicide. But they were religious to the core. In our past Judaism was the very fabric of Jews’ lives, and they lived it and died for it and related to it personally. I can’t help but contrast that to how we seem to relate to Yiddishkeit: theoretically, impersonally, superficially. It seems to be inconsistent to “sin” for Judaism, as once we’re in the theoretical realm of this idea, we just need to look into the books, consider all of the details of the situation and get a psak. But not so for these ancient Jews. Judaism was their life, and even if they messed up, it was passionate, it was heartfelt, it was real and it was for G-d. The closest we get to that idea is the stories we hear about Chassidim who died from starvation in Russian prison camps because they couldn’t eat treif. A misnaged can’t understand: “But the torah says he can, even must, eat the treif!” Indeed. You’ll never understand the realness of Yiddishkeit of a Jew who will die not because he wants to die but because he just couldn’t put the chazir in his mouth, regardless of what the books say. You’ll never understand the Yiddishkeit of the Jews in Masada who died because they couldn’t tolerate Jewish servitude, regardless of what the books say. You can’t understand why a person would build a beis hamikdosh in a place where the torah forbids it (see previous post). Nadav and Avihu couldn’t help but serve G-d, even when G-d didn’t allow it. Right or wrong, in our consideration of history, is irrelevant. The lesson is to internalize that commitment to Yiddishkeit. Even if we would surrender to the Romans, to understand why a Jew wouldn’t. Even if we would eat the treif, to understand the Jew who couldn’t. Even if we wait patiently for the Beis Hamikdosh to be built, to understand those who couldn’t wait to serve Hashem.

Just understand, misnaged’l. (sab: And just understand, friend'l)

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