Saturday, April 29, 2006
Yiddishism is alive!
(unpacking the Strashun Library, New York 1947)
No, not amongst the Workmen's circle and the Forverts, but amongst the Charedim.
It seems like many of our Yungeleit are "cashing" in on their total lack of knowledge of the English language, and total immersion in the silliness of newspapers like "Der Yid" and "Di Blat", to become well-versed in Yiddish literature of old.
On any given day, in any of the many libraries to be found in New York City, you can find Yungeleit with the שמונה בגדים with their noses in all sorts of books that are, to say the least, far from the Torah train of thought. The fact that authors of Seforim are to be found in YIVO, JTS and YU libraries is to understood, but this is different. We speak here of Yungeleit who, due to their lack of skills, and the inability for various reasons to attend college even after getting married, are unable to find a decent job that doesn't involve shlepping boxes or working a register in a grocery store. They spend their days in these libraries reading Yiddishism's greatest works, most of which make laughing stocks of Torah study and practice of Yiddishkeit. A recent example of this was in the The Unchosen, where the main subject of the book tries to integrate into the old Yiddishisten of the Workmens' circle in Manhattan.
Of course Yeshivos could not imagine this ever to be a problem, but it has become a significant one, because it causes these Yungeleit to completely lose faith in Torah and Mitzvos,yet it does not allow for them to actually do something with their newfound knowledge. (In Yeshivos only English was a problem, Yiddish was holy and only Yiddish was allowed to be spoken.) That in itself is not a problem of course, since we do not wish, chas vesholom, that they do live as is suggested in these books. What we do wish is that these people living lies at least have an outlet to discuss their doubts, and to discuss what they've learned, that way they can be assured that they're not the only ones with questions in Emunah.