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Jewish or Goyish - That is the Question

By Tzvi Fishman
9/21/2011, 3:09 PM

Thirty-five concerned Jews protested yesterday outside the UN against the upcoming UN recognition of a PLO terrorist state. 35 Jews in all of America! Hip hip hurray. Hip hip hurray!

OK, it isn’t fair to expect people to come from out-of-state. So it’s 35 out of the million plus Jews in New York. Hip hip hurray. Hip hip hurray!

What a pathetic turn-out!

Allow me to let my fellow bloggers and INN political analysts to write about the political and international aspects of this whole sad affair. I would like to use it as a springboard to write about the darkness of galut and the tragedy of Jewish non-identity.

In all fairness, it was a dark, rainy day in NYC, and let’s hope that was the reason the turn-out was so small. There is an interesting expression mentioned in the Torah concerning the plague of darkness in Egypt. The Torah describes it as “a darkness which could be felt” (Shemot, 10:21). Before the plague, the Jews in Egypt were ensconced deep in the darkness of the exile. However, the majority of them didn’t feel it. With the plague, Hashem added another element – He made the darkness tangible, 3-dimensional, so that you could actually reach out and touch it, so that the Jews would realize that they were living in darkness and want to escape. Unfortunately, 80 percent of the Jews in Egypt preferred to stay in exile and not leave for Israel, and these Diaspora lovers were slain during the three days of darkness (see Rashi, there). This is the darkness of the exile today for the Jews in the Diaspora, represented by the 35 proud Jews out of millions who stood in the rain to protest. It is “darkness mamash,” so dark you can reach out and touch it.

Let me give you another example. As I mentioned, to spread the message of aliyah, I recently started to make friends on Facebook.  There, I discovered a very noteworthy thing. As everyone knows, Facebook lovers can write all about themselves and their interests on their “walls.” (How very different that wall is from ours.) There, they can tell all of their friends about their favorite books and movies and television shows, music and philosophy. Now here is the interesting thing. All of my new Facebook friends tend to be avid supporters of Israel and obviously proud to be Jews. They post all kinds of news stories, and blogs, and Youtube clips about Israel with great devotion and passion. But by and large, when you glance at their preferences in movies and music and books, they like all of the American garbage that the goyim love – the stupid celebrities and rock stars, and idiot TV shows, and sci-fi movies, and trash thrillers – all kinds of names, and groups, and books, and movies that I’ve never heard of, thank G-d. Darkness mamash!

In other words, while their hearts are directed toward Israel, their heads are drowning in junk. At the same time that they identify with being Jewish, they embrace and just as equally identify with the polluted gentile culture they live in. This is an unavoidable product of golus. Whether you are secular, modern Orthodox, or Haredi - the surrounding shmutz sinks in. 

Here is how Rabbi Kook explains it in his writings on Eretz Yisrael:

“It is impossible for a Jew to be devoted and faithful to his contemplations, logical reasonings, conceptualizations, and imaginations, when he is outside the Land of Israel, compared to the quality of their faithfulness in Eretz Yisrael….

“The imagination which is found in the land of the nations is murky, clouded in darkness, in shadows of defilement and pollution. It cannot rise to the heights of holiness, and it cannot afford a basis for the influx of Divine light that rises above all of the baseness of the worlds and their oppressive straits….

“Because the intellect and the imagination are bound up together, and act and interact one upon the other, the intellect which is outside the Land of Israel is also incapable of being illuminated with the light which exists in the Land of Israel.”

I highly recommend the very readable commentary on Rabbi Kook’s writings on Eretz Yisrael: The book is worth a million dollars and should be read again and again, in order to illuminate the darkness of the exile and help people see the light shining from Zion. In the meantime, for all of you diehard lovers of exile, be sure to carry a strong flashlight wherever you go.