Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight


Window into the Charedi World | Mordecai Plaut, director







Opinion & Comment
"We've Come to Banish Darkness . . ."
by Yisroel Friedman

This so-called culture knows only of the right of the individual to guarantee his own personal freedom, but not of the right to safeguard the rights of others.

Editor's Note: The title of the article refers to a well- known anti-religious slogan and song of the Left.

It is night time in the Bnei Torah summer camp. Loud dialogue splits the air, vociferous pros and cons shatter the stillness. In this pitch blackness, in sharp contrast to it, things are gaining stark clarity. Circuits are being clamped tight; coils are being wound securely around the listeners. Then, compressed into a corner, one of the young campers shoots a rebuttal: "True, but I don't want to be like the rest of you, like you black dossim." A last ditch effort to retain his individuality, his ideological freedom, to man his personal barricade of self determination.

The voice of HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, rosh yeshivas Ateres Yisroel, crescendos in rankling ire, "Blacks? We're the blacks and you're the whites? What makes us black? Our black jackets? Maybe we're the whites, after all, by virtue of our white shirts? Or, perhaps, we're gray, because of the gray spots on our ties? And you're white? Why? Because of the multicolored street garb you sport, determined by the rules of fashion which change like a shimmering rainbow? Maybe, all you are is transparent, with no spine of your own, completely colorless!"


There was a demonstration at the Israel Museum last year at this time, which was purported to declare war against chareidi influence in the country. "We have come to banish darkness," was their distorted slogan, to blacken the image of an entire sector of the population. A dehumanization of the Torah public with a dissonant, discordant smack of antisemitism. These successors of the ancient Greek philosophy bared their claws again, at the very height of Chanukah, in an effort to promote assimilation.

The very fact that this involved the same handful of "the enlightened," the so-called academia, is a veritable x-ray of the spiritual abscess that festers in Israeli society. The fact that it is the leftist camp which calls itself the intelligentsia and which straddles a poisoned spearhead, proves that Greek philosophy is still rampant in our midst.

Why? Because Greek culture is synonymous with intelligentsia. Not in vain did Chazal label the essence of Greece as chochmas Yovvon, the school of Greek art/science, of secular knowledge and scholarship. Knowledge among the gentiles? Believe it. Torah? Ethics? Don't you believe it!


"Hellenistic culture is a protector of rights and freedom. These concepts, however, are applied only to those who are educated; they are subject to an arrogance which claims that the rights of human beings begin only after they have attained a certain level of culture. Therefore, sensitivity and concern regarding one's own self, and those close to oneself, are paired with an enormous callousness, with an utmost cruelty, which assumes that the inferior "uneducated masses" lack genuine feelings of honor or a sensitivity for freedom or human rights. Attica, so vainglorious about its rights and liberties, saw no contradiction in the fact that three-quarters of its inhabitants lived in servitude and slavery. Thus, history teaches us that the "educated" were able to tolerate public tyranny and accept the rule of force, provided it was applied only to the lower "uneducated" masses and left the rights of the "cultured" untouched.

"Hellenistic culture was unable to fashion a proper life- style for the individual, for families or for communal existence. When permeated by truth, elevated by purity, guided by righteousness and perfected by love then daily life with its variety of sentiments, feelings, thoughts, words, enjoyments and actions becomes a harmonious whole". (Collected Writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Volume II, p. 203).

Indeed, Greek culture touted noble-sounding slogans. The enlightened leftists of then spouted these empty, pretty- sounding idioms and axioms with their self-righteous ring, but under cover of this artificial culture, they concealed their true animal-like natures. Ideals remained relegated to the realm of philosophy. Only the Torah of our people, which can bring down perfection and incorporate it into daily life, or, rather, to lift up man to aspire to perfection, became an object of their hate. All of their means and media were enlisted to destroy it. All of their resources were summoned to dispel the `darkness,' "`And darkness was on the surface of the abyss' -- this is the exile of Greece, which darkened the eyes of Jewry with its decrees. For they said to them: Engrave upon the horn of the ox [that] you have no portion in the G-d of Israel."


To our chagrin, even portions of the nation in Zion today have opted for darkness, perhaps as a vestige of that ancient struggle and the unforgettable victory of the Macabbees. To tell the truth, those empty mottoes which they spout do, sometimes, sound flowery and intellectually appealing. They have the backing of a hostile media. But it is a thick smoke screen for darkness. It's nice in theory, but falls short in the test of reality. It cannot be true or viable with Torah.

This is all too evident in Israeli society and that is why it looks as it does. Those great `enlightened ones' are exposed as the real benighted, ignorant ones. The guest of honor, that selfsame Hellenism, who came to participate in that demonstration, celebrated his victory. He came to laugh the last laugh; he felt at home in their midst. Blue-white -- those are the Greek flag colors, aren't they?

Chanukah 5759. The absurd fiction, the big lie rules supreme. The ivory-league castles-in-the-cloud philosophy with reality only grasshopper-high. A winter intersession that screams of equality and welfare for the weak. How pretty- sounding!

But the real masses, those hard luck folk who are being strangled under the yoke of survival, must paralyze the economy with typical Israeli frenzied abandon. Talk about concern for the underdog floats about in the air, the height of fairness, of concern. But the real sufferers, the sick folk, the terminally ill, writhe helplessly. Life and death are thrown to the garbage bin, the basket of Health, a small bin that cannot hold much life, cannot offer much hope; it has such a meager budget, while Celebrated Science extends hundreds of budget percents for research. This is of top priority.

And that selfsame Greek science denies the right of the deceased a bonerest of eternity in a small grave plot. But not always; values change by them, too, when it concerns the dead who have become national symbols.

And what about the right to incite? The chareidim are free- for-all targets. Everyone is permitted to slander them, to trample on their sensibilities. This is democratic, isn't it? But when the music turns sour to their ears, they employ other means of disinfection. The pluralistic education opens up new cultural horizons so that everyone has the right to live according to his own `truth.' But in the street, out of the blue, violence. The right of artistic self expression is raised on high. This is culture. Enlightenment. And the result? Part of the youth being educated according to this exposure and lassitude becomes addicted to the empty temptation of drugs and alcohol, since no one will stand in their way or tell them what to do, or how to live their lives. Each man shall be free to die according to his own beliefs and pursuits.

For Greek culture -- stadiums, philharmonic orchestras, Macabbee-olympics -- budgets unlimited, purse strings wide open. For the real, only authentic thing, the pure truth that is capable of producing all that is beautiful and noble in life, there is only a clamped fist which also serves as a threatening, belligerent fist. Yet, in moments of truth one can find quotes of the type which follow -- and not just from the pen products of the Torah-true:

"By us, charity is the stronghold only of chareidi society. A secular person who needs medical equipment will turn to Yad Sarah, a chareidi organization. And if he needs financial help for some medical/surgical treatment, he can turn to Rabbi Fierer. This is a certificate of shame for the secular Israeli society which looks down upon this sector."

End of quote, from an afternoon paper. Yes, there are some expressed compunctions of conscience like these, moments of reflection and admission before the smoke screen obscures everything as before.


"We have come to banish darkness." So, then, we are the black ones, from the Dark Ages. And they're Whites? The white man? Why, they are not even transparent! They're like spineless jellyfish. Their spinal cords are composed of foreign matter, from Hellenism. They may, perhaps, offer some intellectual appeal, since science and art is the realm of Yefes, of the gentiles; that is their heritage.

But any attempt to graft a Jew unto a school of any thought lacking Torah is bound to be fruitless and sterile. It is like a spiritual short circuit which will extinguish the light and dispel smoke and thick vapor in whose midst and mist one can only grope hopelessly and lose one's way. Wherever you turn, you will come up against a wall. If their heads, alone, absorbed the blow, it would be of some comfort, but they cause all of the masses to collide with the wall of reality.

Still in all, we are optimistic. The Jewish people still has a future, despite the fact that its exterior is contaminated with Hellenism. But the small flame still burns true, the cruse of pure oil still boasts the unspoiled seal. The halls of Torah, the yeshivos, are still intact and pure, guarded by the high priests, the Torah leaders of our times. This flame is the very one that burned within Matisyohu and his sons, which defied the darkness of the original Hellenists, and which continues to illuminate the darkness shed by the Hellenists of this generation. The distant echo of ancient Greece may find an attentive ear among sectors of our nation, but the flame still burns true. The Greek ethos that pedestals the human physique and its prowess, and builds temples of gymnasiums to worship it, even going so far as to deny and defy the covenant which Hashem stamped upon us, cannot overpower that steady little flame, not by numbers or by might. Quality will decide which shall survive, not numbers or quantity.

"Though they rage against Jewry with fanatical frenzy, though right and left thousands and hundreds of thousands fall away in betrayal of Jewry; nevertheless so long as they have not trampled out of existence the last spark of Judaism in the heart of the last Jew in the last Jewish village, we short- sighted mortals may quiver and tremble; but `He Who sits in Heaven shall laugh; Hashem shall mock him.' (Tehillim 2:4)

"One single pure spark, loyally treasured in but one Jewish heart, is sufficient for G-d to set aflame once more the whole spirit of Judaism. And if all the oil, if all the forces that were to have preserved the light of G-d in Israel were to be misused for the light of paganism -- even then, one little crucible of oil, one heart which in a forgotten hidden corner, imprinted with the High Priest's seal, has faithfully remained untouched and undefiled, this one crucible is sufficient to become the salvation of the entire sanctuary when the right time and hour has come.

"The light of the temple? It was the very High Priests of Judaism themselves who betrayed it. The light of Matisyohu in his village became the salvation; do you therefore kindle your light in your own home! (Ibid., pp. 196-7).

This true flame burns here, too. It is the very reason why we are here, ourselves. We are here to banish the darkness. And one cannot do this with sticks, or with slogans. Just a little bit of light dispels so much darkness. And if we be `blacks' ,then `Black is Beautiful'. Blackness such as ours -- is light.

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