Sunday, December 28, 2008
Blinded By The Light
(The Rebbe Rav Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch, Chanukah 5710)
It used to be that the only ones bothered by Public Menorahs were the Reform and their brothers-in-arms. They thought it would hurt their cause. After all, if you're against any public displays of religion then you need to show that you're objective and oppose your own religious displays too. There's also the fact that they're embarrassed by any public display of religion, thinking it arcane and childish. But never would you think that religious Jews would oppose something as innocent as a Public Menorah. Are they too embarrassed by public displays of their observances?! I can understand that they're uncomfortable attending such an event, but why be bothered that others do it? being that I too come from there, and never has "pushing" religion been easy for me, maybe I can explain it for them, so that they can immediately deny it....
Most of us - notice I say most, not all, there are many exceptions - have no real love of yiddishkeit and/or Hashem. We go through the motions and we do what we have to, and in these trying times it may be all that G-d could ask for, but the fact remains that we have ulterior motives. They may be positive peer pressure, pressure from parents and mechanchim, or fear of being embarrassed by misbehaving, which I guess is a Toldoh of peer pressure. Most "mishmeres haTznius" groups will agree that the best fear tactic to use against somebody they say is stepping out of line is publicizing his picture or telling his Rosh Yeshivah, because that's the last thing most people want - that people know what they're up to. I'm not speaking about women, neshomos DeBan have a totally different makeup - excuse the pun - I speak only of men.
There also is the element of shame. Many Jews, when confronted with their practices by the more "enlightened" begin to see that lots of what they do makes no sense to the naked eye. They look at themselves and see that what happens in Iran often happens in Brooklyn and Jerusalem too, so they begin to wonder. They wonder how they're any different than the radical Islamist, other than they have no access to guns so they don't use them. Yet. Others react by trying to make yiddishkeit more "normal." They dress and look normal, educate themselves and their children, and generally try not to stick out more than different that the average Western man and/or woman. Passing by a proud display of Judaism on an otherwise normal street reminds them how their brethren - and, by extension, them too - are weird, and they don't like to be reminded how weird they really are. Despite their fancy homes and cars.
These people - the ashamed ones, the ones that do it just because, and all the others - they see light and it boils their blood, because they're not vessels for the light. They see some dorky guy with a menorah on his car and a snide remark leaves their lips - a knee-jerk reaction, really, they cannot help themselves, they need to laugh and poke fun. Oh, yes, they'll tell themselves and anybody that would listen that they laugh because there's "really no mitzvah," or because חדש אסור מן התורה, but don't believe it. Those that oppose and laugh and condemn are dark characters who need to live ion their dark caves like nocturnal animals and birds. Sure, they'll lead good Jewish lives, and even support institutions in a very admirable manner, but their lives are dark, and any attempt to shine some light into their dark lives leaves them shielding their eyes, yelling at your for disrupting their dark existence. These people are blinded by the light.....