Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Tammuz 5763 - July 2, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
The Rapid Rise and Fall of the Reshoim

by Y. Wurtzel

In the world of illusions in which we live, we often see reshoim succeed. Every so often along comes the next libertine hater of religion on the roster, declaring war against everything we hold holy and dear, spewing forth crude remarks against the legitimacy of living a life of Torah and mitzvos in Israel and provoking the masses against the Torah- true public and . . . presto! A little known run-of-the-mill politician turns into a big shot. Suddenly the media begins to accommodate him, the public hears his crass utterances frequently, his name becomes known to all and he swiftly rises to the top of the heap.

Sometimes when mention is made of Messieurs Paritzky and Poraz, leading figures in the Shinui Party, one has to wonder: How did these two laughable politicians manage to reach the top ranks of government, holding ministerial positions of responsibility and decision- making power? Is this not a nightmare come true?

One need not be very insightful to realize this is not a natural course of events. Anyone who has ever heard them utter a few sentences cannot help taking note of the figures behind them.

But really this should come as no surprise. The fact that they and others like them manage to reach high- ranking government posts is perfectly natural. In our world of illusions the truth is that reshoim succeed. Seeing how religious antagonists walk a smooth path is no kushyo. It stands as evidence that theirs is the path of reshoim.

Neither should the success of haters of religion be cause for alarm, for sheker, of course, has no legs to stand on. Although reshoim travel a smooth path, since it is entirely based on lies and deceit it has nothing to keep it standing. Their success is short-lived. They leave the scene as quickly as they arrived, vanishing entirely as if they had never existed.

The yom tov of Shavuos was a tangible reminder of how sheker -- even a lie that has been built up into great proportions -- eventually comes tumbling down like a deck of cards. Who can forget the towering lie built by the State's early uprooters of religion who sought to distort the meaning of Chag Matan Torah and rob it of its holiness?

The kibbutznikim who stood at the vanguard of the campaign to uproot Judaism invested prodigious energy into efforts to transform the day into an agricultural festival. They competed with each another to see who could hold the most impressive cult ritual, which they referred to as a "Bringing of the First Fruits Ceremony." Their Shavuos was marked by an exhibition of their best crops, which they intentionally dubbed "bikkurim." The general public was invited to come see the agricultural bounty of the Holy Land. The kibbutz members would don festive white clothing and sing the praises of Eretz Yisroel and their fondness for the mitzvah of bringing the Bikkurim.

Since the State's founding, each year as Shavuos drew near the Kibbutz Movement would enlist all of its forces to woo the masses into taking part in the modern, new Israeli "chag" they invented as a substitute for the Shavuos Festival observed by Am Yisroel for 3000 years without change. All of the efforts they put into the new ceremonies they devised were solely intended to misrepresent the holiday and strip it of kedushoh, as if to demonstrate that the most holy things could be totally profaned.

Yet it took only fifty years for the distorted holiday they built with their own two hands to evaporate into the wind and vanish from Israeli life as if it had never existed. Not only do the Israeli masses not buy their phony goods, but most Kibbutz Movement members have themselves abandoned the "holiday" they or their fathers invented. Here and there one can still find a handful of die-hard fanatics at isolated kibbutzim who refuse to acknowledge that the "holiday" has lost its validity, but even they see themselves as eccentrics. Reasonable kibbutznikim scoff at the contrived ceremonies, realizing the absurdity of a kibbutz bikkurim ceremony in a time when the very concept of "Hebrew agriculture" has become a relic of the past.

Unfortunately, while the kibbutz "holiday" is rapidly fading into history, we still cannot say the masses have come to understand the true meaning of Shavuos. They relate to it as the "Hebrew cheese-fest." This year cheese consumption broke all previous records. Dairy manufacturers worked around the clock to supply more and more dairy products of every variety. Hard cheeses and soft cheeses, low-fat and high-fat cheeses, salty cheeses and delicate cheeses. Prestigious hotels and restaurants made all the necessary preparations to provide diners a wide variety of original dairy delicacies as if the main intent of Shavuos was to focus attention on the benefits of cheese.

Yet there is a tremendous difference between the Kibbutz Movement's dastardly attempts to distort the meaning of Shavuos and the fact that the Israeli masses have reached such a low level that the custom of eating dairy products on Shavuos has become the essence of the holiday for them.

Those who view Shavuos as the "cheese holiday" are generally traditional Jews who do not seek to distort religious meaning, chas vesholom. They do not want to do damage, but instead become the victims of the damage done. They want to feel they belong, but alas they do not understand the message. We have no bone to pick with them. They are worthy of compassion.

Those who plot to uproot Judaism cannot make a stand. They pop up like mushrooms after the rain and fade away just as quickly. Since the nation's founding there have already been dozens, even hundreds, of anti-religious combatants. Some of them sought to achieve their schemes through coercion and some used more genteel approaches, but all of them eventually vanished without a trace.

This year Shavuos, which arrived in the midst of a tough campaign to uproot Judaism, brought with it a hopeful message: despite the difficulties of enduring the decrees imposed upon us by those who walk a smooth path, just as the "success" of those who sought to distort the meaning of Chag Matan Torah was short- lived, so too all of the evil counsels against the Torah world will also disappear into thin air, leaving Torah to thrive with renewed powers.

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