Thursday, October 28, 2010
HaRav Eliezer Don-Yichye, zt"l and his daughter Malka Tziyoni, 1926
I've often heard about the differences between different groups of frumme yidden and how they related and reacted certain events. Also, how that mindset may have contributed to the two groups having different outcomes when it came to Yiddishkeit and continuity. [I realize that may have sounded like English but was totally unintelligible, so I'll explain.] Let's use this picture as an example, shall we? Look at the Hadras Ponim on the elderly Gaon. This was a short while before he passed away, so maybe I'm defeating my own point here... But nevertheless, let's give it the "old college try" anyway. Malka - the photo tells us - had left to America thirty years before and was only now coming for a visit. I would assume that in America she assimilated like most other Jews did. I would further assume that she had "veremlach in ihr kepeleh" long before she left to America, which is why she left in the first place. Yet what do we see here? A father's love to his child, u'bifrat l'eys ziknosoi.
In Ungarin/Marmuresh things were different. Such a daughter might have been shunned forever, no matter if they hadn't seen her for 130 years. M'vult tzeyn mool gezesen shiveh. לא יזכר ולא יפקד. The kids and grandkids would never know from such an aunt or uncle that they had. I guess the point was two-fold: 1) to defend G-d's honor. 2) Not to let that child influence the others. G-d wants us to be good and to hate those that aren't, including our own children. No preferential treatment. I guess it was easier to distance a child in those parts; I'm not sure why. Maybe it was because of the constant vigilance, they always were making sure their children behaved - which left no time for loving them. Looking at it in such simplistic terms would have you believe that those who made no excuses for their own children and shunned them just they like any stranger's kid (!) were on G-d's side and stood up for his honor. But how can we realistically say that about Yidden who had mesiras nefesh for Torah and Mitzvos all their lives and for generations prior to that? The Hungarians will always tell you how their way has been tried and true and time-tested. How even after the War, when the Poylishe and Di Litvishe zennen gegangen in di eygene hoor, how they never deviated from how it was in Der Alter Heim. I grant them that, at least from what I've seen.
But how can a father be angry with a child, with his own flesh and blood? On the other hand: How can a father sit back and watch his child go off LeTarbus Ro'oh, r'l. We've come along since the 20s and 30s, mind you, and many of those who would've sent the child tzu alle di shvartz yohr realize that to lose a child and subsequent generations forever is not an alternative. But in the old days people lived in the now - they had neither the time nor the wherewithall to look that far ahead ahead. After all, a shtikkel broyt for tomorrow they didn't have either. It was every day for itself. If you think that this is a case of the teritz being better than the kashe, you may be right. I was sent a picture by a Lutziner eynikel and fell in love with it. So we're staying on track here; we're trying to solve the yeshiva OTD (both On and Off the derech) crisis once and for all, so maybe it would be good to start with loving our kids, no matter what - yet not accepting anything and everything they do. And if learning difficulties are the hand that G-d dealt you then there are places and people that can help him or her. Take it from Rav Don-Yichye, not from me. It's the only way.