Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Echoes From the Past - Nothing New Under the Sun

In a Sefer titled L'Frakim, a compilation of essays and Torah novellae by Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, the Seridei Aish, there is an article which he wrote about the life of the Rabbinic leader of the Mizrachi, R' Yitzchak Yaakov Reines.

I found a segment of that piece absolutely gripping in its relevance to today:

[The Hebrew is excellent stylistically, and I cannot do it justice, but here goes]

"... A stormy movement arose, drawing after it all of the young, naive, hearts, and all of the spirit of the doubtful elders. The young students and the old Maskilim join together, to liberate the nation and "to save Yahadut". The Zionist Histadrut is in formation, which immediately declares itself to be the one true representative of the Jewish Nation, and all those who stand from afar, to be traitors or hypocrites.

The "Old Generation" is interested in the fire of the young zealots, chuckles a bit and turns aside. The simple Baalei Battim lift up their eyes to the Rabbis, the soldiers of the holy heritage, what will be their attitude toward the new heroes. And, behold, it is revealed that there is no intention on the part of the old Gedolim of Lithuania to abandon their place. "They cannot relinquish all the old treasures in the hands of any enthused orator, first he must bring proof that it is all as precious to him as the apple of his eye." And they do not budge from their place, these stringent, cold, elderly, guardians of Yahadut. Like then, so now, they wish to continue to preserve it and they do not allow anyone to save...

The youth is completely enraptured in the fire of love, in a conflagrating enthusiasm, they burn with the fire of thirst for life and freedom. But the old Geonim do not know of "wisdom" and "to do good" they do not recognize. "A good Jew" is to them someone who is completely soaked with Torah and fear of Heaven, and is willing to give up his life Al Kiddush HaShem. And "love for Judaism" is, in their eyes, love for all that is acquired with Jewish blood and tears, and is sanctified with the suffering of the pious and the holy ones. "One who loves the Nation, should also love its Mitzvos and customs, and, perforce - also must fulfill them out of love..."

So decreed the old Misnagdim. But the fiery Chassidim of Poland are no better. They look at the enthusiasm of the whippersnappers, and turn their noses: "Not necessarily...".

The tragic characters are the young Rabbis. They stand between two magnets: their young hearts are drawn to the place where all is afire, alive, hoping, aspiring, loving, and beloved. However, their Jewish sense of responsibility tells them that they must not run away from the elderly Geonim and Tzaddikim, who carry all the "spiritual possessions" of the Jewish people on their weak backs. And in the depths of their soul a whispering echo reverberates: Do not be foolish, don't eliminate the only Jewish discipline, the discipline of Torah and her honor. And if you dare to declare that your great Rabbis are traitors and hypocrites - then remove the crown from your heads and drop the flag of Torah from your hands...!

And that echo triumphed. The young Rabbis sensed the great danger in a Rabbinic revolution: all will crumble to smithereens, and nothing in need of liberation and salvation will remain. "

End quote.

V'Hameivin Yavin.

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