Monday, May 30, 2005
Fear of whom?
I've been doing a lot of reading recently, keeping this brain of mine at peak performance, and I've noticed something strange. In the most difficult times Jews had no problem standing up to whatever trials and tribulations they encountered. However, at the first signs of freedom everything basically flew out the window.
Case in point: Germany. German Jews, who had it somewhat easy, at least relative to its other European Brethren, jumped at the first opportunity to erase any and all observance of Judaism. It also did not take much. Most of the reformers who instituted the changes were either "Reverends", Hebrew Teachers, and dropouts who were banished from Yeshivos, but they had no trouble "convincing" the masses that what they had kept with Mesiras Nefesh was totally outdated and pointless. By the time Hitler came to power most of German Jewry was already long assimilated, so much so that a Jew 1/16th Jewish was also not "Aryan".
In Eastern Europe, it took a little longer, but the result was more of the same, although to a lesser extent. The pogroms and daily encounters with Anti-Semitism did little to diminish their belief in Hashem and his Torah, whereas emancipation, the ability to own property, and being accepted into Universities did. In America it only took one generation, and in some cases, the Tefillin were deposited at the bottom of the Atlantic for the fish to consume.
The point of this blurb is not to discuss what it was that kept the observant from being swept away with the tide, but to examine the "cause" of why the tide did sweep away so much with it.
In no way do I mean to speak evil of our ancestors, I just wish to know: was it fear of G-d all those centuries, or fear of.....?