This speech was given by the Tzanz-Klausenberg Rebbe,
zt'l, at a meeting of educators in the year 5732 (1972). The
Rebbe's yahrtzeit is 9 Tammuz. The Rebbe was a
Holocaust survivor who had very extensive and bitter
experience of the worst excesses of Israel's enemies.
The first rule for self protection is "know your enemy." This
rule can be divided into two parts: 1) Knowing who the real
enemy is; 2) Analyzing his plans and how he executes them.
If one ignores this advice, the war is lost. The Torah,
having commanded us "Remember what Amolek did to you," added
"Do not forget" alluding to the above: knowing the enemy and
Chazal (Midrash Rabbah parshas Vayishlach, also cited
in Rashi) tell us, "R' Shimon bar Yochai said the
halochoh is that Esav hates Yaakov." Every non- Jewish
idol-worshiper, no matter where he lives, how he dresses or
looks, and in any situation, hates Jews [at least
potentially]. The Jewish tradition has long taught us to
respect the idol worshipers but to suspect them as well.
Dovid Hamelech a'h writes (Tehillim 139:21,22),
"Do I not hate, Hashem, those who hate You? And do I not
quarrel with those who rise up against You? I hate them with
the utmost hatred; I count them as my enemies." We always
understood that it is dangerous to become friendly with those
who wish to harm us.
Our Torah (Devorim 7:2) warns, "You shall make no
covenant with them nor show them favor." Chazal (Avodoh
Zora) explain "Nor show them favor" as meaning "You
should not say how beautiful that idol- worshiper is!"
What harm could possibly develop from remarking favorably
about an idol worshiper's appearance? Nonetheless, we see the
Torah has forbidden this.
Rabbenu Aharon HaLevi teaches us in his Sefer Hachinuch,
mitzvah 426: "We should not have pity on an Akum
and we should not consider anything an idol-worshiper does as
being favorable. . . . We should not be pleased with him in
any matter, as Chazal write `It is forbidden to say how
beautiful this Akum is or how charming and pleasant he
is.' About this the Torah writes `Nor show them favor' . . .
and therefore we should refrain from thinking and talking of
there being any benefit from idol-worshipers and neither join
them nor pursue their love, and certainly not learn from
their evil deeds."
The Rambam rules (Hilchos Rotzei'ach 4:10): "It is a
mitzvah to kill the minim and those from Yisroel who
worship idols, or someone who sins to spite. . . " The source
of the Rambam is the gemora (Avodoh Zorah 26b): "The
heretics, the informers, and the mumarim were lowered
[into the pit] and not lifted out."
This can be compared to a snake about to bite someone. We
must surely save ourselves before it is too late. The same is
true with a kofeir be'ikar who does aveiros for
We must distance ourselves as far as possible from such
people since eventually they will try to destroy us and our
offspring. This has been proven beyond all doubt. Looking at
all the evil decrees placed on the Jewish Nation throughout
history, the kofrim were largely to blame. Anyone
familiar with Jewish history is aware of this.
During the period of the Greeks, the Jewish reshoim,
the Hellenists, slandered the Perushim and handed them
over to the enemy. This also happened when the
Tzedukim helped the Romans gain control over Eretz
The same is true of oso ho'ish who caused an ocean of
Jewish blood to be spilt like water. The first to be
attracted to him were the Tzedukim, and so it
continues until today: The Czars in Russia who made decrees
against the Jews and Judaism frequently had reshoim,
Jewish advisors, to help them. Hitler ym'sh had Jewish
advisers who were close to him. Eventually he decided to
liquidate them too, since Jewish blood flowed in their veins.
Any thinking person will realize nothing has changed.
We are therefore obliged to educate our children to be aware
of who are the Jewish Nation's real enemies. We must
understand that these enemies are bent on plotting against
our very existence. Only then will we know how adequately to
protect ourselves against their schemes. Even if they dress
in robes of "humanism" and of "seekers of our good" we must
realize: "His mouth is full of cunning, deceit, and fraud;
under his tongue is mischief and iniquity" (Tehillim
10:7, see the explanation of the Radak). [The initial
disguise of their true objective] is a repetition of "Egypt
made bnei Yisroel serve with rigor" (Shemos
1:13). Common sense dictates that no one is a bigger liar
than one who denies Hashem's presence, a kofeir
be'ikar. We must analyze everything he does or says, with
this in mind.
The Rambam (Ovos 1:16) explains the different types of
speech that are cherished by the Torah: "[Hashem] cherishes
the fourth type [of speech] when a person praises
intellectual virtues or character traits and degrades
corruption . . . praises prominent people and admits to their
great value so that others will better their ways and follow
[those virtuous people]. We should degrade the evil, those
who act corruptly, so that people will scorn their deeds and
disapprove of them. As a result they will be kept at a
distance and not imitated."
In his Shemoneh Perokim (ch. 5) the Rambam writes at
length: "It is praiseworthy to denounce deficiency in
behavior, if one's intentions are for the benefit of others.
`Do not imitate conduct of the Egyptians among whom you dwell
nor those of the land of Canaan into which I shall bring you,
nor practice their acts' (Vayikra 18:3). Just as the
Torah abhors the deeds of the Sodomites and all who act
wickedly, so shall you.
"Bilaam answered and said to the servants of Bolok: If Bolok
would give me his house full of silver and gold I cannot go
beyond the word of Hashem my Elokim to do less or
more" (Bamidbar 22:8). Anyone reading this
posuk would be impressed at Bilaam's apparent
righteousness. Bilaam announced to Bolok's servants that were
he even to receive great wealth he could not defy Hashem.
Rashi however explains this statement as greed and lust for
other people's money [since Bilaam is implying that Bolok
should offer him a lot of money].
From this we can understand the perspective of our
Kadmonim zy'a on people. Although at first glance we
might see a virtuous trait in the rosho, we must
realize that it is superficial appearance and only intended
to mislead us. Since Bilaam the rosho really wanted to
curse Yisroel, and he advised the Moabite women how to cause
Yisroel to sin (see Rashi, ibid., 24:14), we attribute
neither his words nor his deeds to virtue. On the contrary,
upon examination, we find them thoroughly disgraceful.
Conversely, though we may see no apparent benefit from the
act of a tzaddik, we must judge him favorably [because
that is the probable truth]. We find this principle in Rashi
on the posuk (Bereishis 29:21), "Yaakov said to Lovon,
Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in
to her." Rashi explains that "not even the crudest person
speaks that way but [Yaakov's] pure intention was to have
children." This lesson is included in Rambam's dictum: "It is
a mitzvah to praise the tzaddik and denounce the
We must educate our children in the knowledge that all deeds
and speech of a tzaddik in Torah and Chazal were
solely with Hashem in mind. On the other hand, apparent
virtues in reshoim are suspect.
In teaching or studying Tanach we must bear in mind
that our limited intellect is unable to grasp many profound
secrets that may be misunderstood. We must remember "the
Rishonim are like mal'ochim." Someone teaching these
perokim to talmidim must have an exceptional
and developed understanding so he can transmit these matters
without, chas vesholom, any thought, even the
smallest, against the pure and holy mal'ochim who
severed themselves from material desires.
All this is dependent upon the spirit and way it is
transmitted. If we reach a certain perek in which the
educator understands he cannot transmit it successfully, as
is should be done, he should explain to the talmidim
that this perek contains deep secrets that we are
unable to understand and we cannot study it now. It is
therefore necessary when teaching talmidim Tanach to
search the commentaries of gedolei Yisroel who were
zocheh to understand the profound and hidden matters
of our Holy Torah for explanations to avoid any danger of
slander of the tzaddikim who are the pillars of the
world, and not chas vesholom to transmit the matters
with the wrong spirit.
Of vital importance is an awareness of the many books of
stories from Tanach and aggodos that, even if
written factually but with impure intention, can chas
vesholom cause apikorsus. They are forbidden to
us. The Zohar HaKodosh warns: "Those who say the Torah
is stories and not all secrets of the Torah should die."
Shlomoh Hamelech a'h, the wisest of men, writes in
Koheles (7:8): "Better is the end of a thing than the
beginning of it." Look in the commentary of Rabbenu Avrohom
Ibn Ezra who explains, "A wise person will not love presents.
In everything he does he should look at what will ultimately
develop, since only that is important. A wise person will
take a bitter-tasting medicine for a cure. He will refrain
from eating sweet food if the taste is good but the result is
A novi was called "a person who sees" (Shmuel I
9:9). Yechezkel writes (Yechezkel 3:17, 33:7) "Son of
man, I have made you a watchman to the house of Yisroel, and
when you shall hear a word from My mouth, you shall warn them
of Me." The commentaries explain that a watchman stands at
the top of a tower and looks into the distance to see if the
enemy is approaching.
R' Shimon says that the most important trait a person should
be careful to adopt is "seeing the future" (Ovos 2:9).
HaRav Ovadia of Bartenura explains that "[the chochom
looks into the future and makes a reckoning of losing a
mitzvah as compared to its reward and the reward of
committing an aveiroh in comparison to refraining from
We recognize that we are an eternal nation, "Also the Eternal
One of Yisroel will not lie nor change His mind"
(Shmuel I 15:29) and the hearts of our young children
must be filled with the knowledge that the Torah is eternal.
The yardstick by which we measure accomplishment or failure,
gain or loss, must stand the test of time and continue to
benefit future generations. Should it endure only ten years
or more, we consider the loss greater than the gain.
To what do we refer? To all the enchanting ideas and
"beautiful" slogans the non-Jews and the heretics have aired
in recent generations. I will not specify here the type of
ideas and "ideologies" but regard all in general. The proofs
and examples to support what we have written are evident to
all and there is no need to spend time on each one
separately. Our principle is quite clear: Any ideology or any
matter whose basis is not according to the Torah, whether the
idea was initiated by non-Jews or Jews imitating them, cannot
last long. It will eventually become bankrupt.
Chazal (Shabbos 104a) write: "Truth stands but a lie
cannot stand" (truth endures but not falsity). Any idea
opposing our Holy Torah, which is a Toras emes, is
based upon falsity and cannot survive.
Sometimes we see "the way of the wicked prosper"
(Yirmiyohu 12:1) and the heretics proudly wave their
colorful and eye-catching "accomplishments" in front of us.
But it should not excite us. They are only mortals: "You cast
them down into destruction. How are they brought into
desolation in a moment" (Tehillim 73:19). Their
accomplishments are only like the sweetness described by the
Ibn Ezra that, although initially pleasant, will become
extremely bitter. Some taste the bitterness sooner and others
later. To the wise man who considers the long-term advantage
this makes no difference. "The moment plays for them," that
is, for the reshoim, who succeed for a few decades.
But of what value is that for a world that has existed five
thousand seven hundred and thirty-two years?
Even a hundred years is less than two percent of this
Our Holy Torah was given to us on Mt. Sinai about four
thousand years ago. The same mitzvos, the same values, the
same dinim and mishpotim, the same
mussar and aims -- all exist to this very day without
the smallest change. Only a Toras emes could thus
endure. It is a Torah from Shomayim. "This Torah will
not be exchanged nor will there be another Torah from the
Creator, Blessed is His Name" (Rambam's Thirteen Principles
Not so the non-Jews and heretics who are always inventing new
ideas and ways and tell us: "This will save mankind. This
will be a salvation for Jewry" and the like. These ideas
change form and shape and eventually prove to be a vain hope.
Not only do they not reach their objective but they also
cause tragedy and sorrow for future generations.
It is no great feat to reveal the tragedy after it has caused
so much damage, but unfortunately some reshoim do not
repent even at the gates of Gehennom. Some, even after
seeing what is happening in various lands, will not change.
For example, in Communist China, hundreds of millions of
people are terrorized and subjugated. Who knows how many
millions have been murdered for no sin at all? It is a land
where even the sins of the cruelest dictators ever known in
history from the time of Nimrod the rosho, are nothing
in comparison with the suppression and cruelty found
In other countries, even where antisemitism is overt, we find
those who believe in their slogans and preach that this
ideology [Communism] will save the oppressed workers from
those who take advantage of them and will be a blessing for
all mankind. It is no great accomplishment to see that
instead of saving the individual, dictatorships have used
these ideas to oppress the masses in a way never before
witnessed in history.
What is the praise of chachmei Yisroel? They are
commended for their ability to see the future. "R' Yochonon
in the name of R' Shimon bar Yochai said: `The good of
reshoim is bad for the tzaddikim'"
(Yevomos 103a). Even when it seems to the
reshoim that their way is good, the tzaddikim
sense the aim is evil and warn against it: "Do not go in
their way!" They understand no good will develop for humanity
and surely not for the Jews. The tzaddikim of the
generation therefore warned against Napoleon's Emancipation
Law for France [that gave Jews political rights].
Rabbenu the Chasam Sofer zy'a said as a
melitzah that: "The Torah forbids [all] chodosh
[literally meaning anything new but in the original context
referring to the issur of eating chodosh until
the omer is brought]."
In those generations the Reformers chided the
tzaddikim who opposed the new reforms. The Reformers
claimed that the "Jewish ghetto" has become obsolete and now
the gates of "happiness" have opened before them. Their
children can receive an education in the universities and
enjoy status equal to all nations. In this way, they said,
the "Jewish Problem" would completely disappear.
Despite the opposition of the gedolei vetzaddikei
Yisroel, the Maskilim worked untiringly for "equal
rights" for Jews in Germany. When they succeeded they were
drunk with success and boasted as though they had brought
eternal prosperity to the Jews and saved their lives. When,
decades later, many Jews held key positions in their
country's culture and economy, it seemed to the naive person
that the argument for saving the "Jewish Problem had proven"
correct and the chareidim who opposed it were narrow-minded
and not sufficiently versed in worldly affairs.
But let us analyze this. Let us examine the significance of
this idea. Did the movement for equality help or bring
prosperity to Jews? Was the "Jewish Problem" really solved in
Germany during those "nice years" when most of the lecturers
in the colleges were Jews and more than three thousand Jews
who converted to Christianity served as Christian priests in
Germany? Did this equality really put an end to the "Jewish
Today when we feel the tragic results of the Wansee
Conference called by Hitler ym'sh to decide on the
"Solution" to the "Jewish Problem," it is not difficult to
We often hear from various groups that the exaggerated
attempt to be part of the society of the non-Jews, and the
fervent desire to "be more German than the Germans" and "more
of a pope than the pope," spoiled everything and caused, in
this generation when "civilization" had reached its peak, the
terrible churban of six million of our men, women and
children who suffered strange and cruel deaths, and the whole
world said not a word.
Our holy chachomim and tzaddikim, the pillars
of the world, saw everything beforehand. They warned and
pleaded: "You moan when your end comes, when your flesh and
your body are consumed" (Mishlei 5:10-11). They
understood that nothing is better for Yisroel than that which
the Torah has destined for us: "It is a people that dwell
alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations"