Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Do we learn from history?
A reader writes in response to Circus Tent Good Watching:
After seeing the posted Rabbi Wein video, which was very well done, the implied conclusion is obvious; that the only guarantee for Yiddishket to survive is sticking to the "true Torah way" regardless of circumstance. However, it begs the questions :
1) At that time there were legitimate arguments made for change in order to survive, of which - in hindsight - none seemed to be the correct answer, and in fact all failed. Which means only extreme kano'us and sacrifice is the answer - which also failed most of the time. Very few of the second generation bought into it, if any. So what was supposed to be the correct answer?
2) At a later time (1930s-40s) many significant changes were indeed adapted (Torah Vodaas, Bais Yaakov, "Limudei Chol", regular use of the English language in and outside of home, including during learning; women AND GIRLS at the workplace - yes, remember "47 strit"?, institutionalized kashrus, fund raising dinners - which are constantly kashered by the MC at the dinner, referring to it a seudas mitzvah , and the list goes on... These changes contributed significantly to the rebuilding of the heimishe communities in the USA. Why was it OK at that point?
3) Are we out of the woods? While things are happening, there is no way of telling if it is successful. So will a later generation look back at us and create a documentary about our failings? How we failed to respond to the pressing issues of our time?
When I watch this video I become very emotionally charged by the sad history of our people and their struggles, which some judge very negatively. While no clear answer can be given, it seems that we only admire the martyrs that died - not those that tried.