The question of whether Torah Jewry has a future in America has little to do with the recent spike of anti- Semitic pogroms aimed at Jews in cities across the United States. While seeing it happen today in the country in which “it could never happen” should certainly give us pause, the recent anti Jewish crusades across the country are merely a symptom of the quintessential problem that American Torah Jews face and not the true problem itelf.
The true problem lies in the fact that the entire existence of the Jews in America was intrinsically designed to be a punishment and a curse, something that most religious Jews seems to have forgotten or choose to overlook.
The Torah prophetically warns that in the future, if the Jews stray from the path of G-d, they are bound to incur a string of punishments, each one more severe than the one preceding it- national depression and anxiety, military defeat, famine and plague amongst others. The ultimate climax and culmination of all of these punishments, if the Jews persist in their spiritual indifference and apathy, will be exile from the Land of Israel in which the “land of their enemies will consume them” (Vayikra 26:38). In that way, America is not unique from any other country in which the Jews have temporarily found refuge in exile. Each country to which the Jews have been exiled has, as predicted, consumed them and expelled whatever survivors remained.
While the recent phenomenon of anti-Jewish violence in the U.S. is the most outward expression of the Torah’s prophecy, in fact, this process had already been started long ago without much attention. Assimilation has been long known as a silent Holocaust, where we are losing greater numbers in America through intermarriage than were lost through the hands of Hitler. While Torah Jewry in America is quick to condemn the assimilationist tendencies of their non observant brethren, they fail to consider that assimilation doesn’t start with intermarriage - thats where it ends.
Assimilation begins in our minds and in our hearts. When we live amongst a foreign culture with foreign tendencies and foreign priorities, we get assimilated. Every gentile nation has its trademark traits which inevitably filter down to the Jews living amongst them. German Jews are punctilious as are the Germans, Mizrahi Jews are passionate and emotional as are their Arab neighbors, etc. Along the same lines American Jews, are on the one hand a very friendly and generous people, but on the other, sometimes superficial and materialistic. Inevitably, these traits have filtered down to the religious Jews of America, who have outdone the Americans in their Americanism. The charity and friendly smile comes along with the understanding that “money talks” and money determines what they respect and who their children marry.
Given this environment, it's hard to imagine what kind of future Jews can hope to have in America, even without the mob violence and anti-Semitic pogroms.
-If too many Jews, religious Torah Jews, have their prorities backwards, placing materialism above spirituality, how long can they expect to continue to exist as a chosen and special people, a light onto the nations?
-If in our Torah communities, our priorities lie in our material status and making sure that we are keeping up with the Cohens, what kind of expectations do we realistically have for our children and what kinds of expectations can they have for their children?
-If our concept of mesirus nefesh as Jews is having to make Pesach at home during Corona instead of Cancun, how will our children ever learn the lessons of the price we are willing to pay part of G-d’s chosen nation?
-If we spend our days and weeks in the confines of a toxic business environment in which doing “whatever it takes” to succeed is a virtue, how do we prevent ourselves from acquiring the arrogant, domineering and belitling traits of the people with whom we surround ourselves?
Although it might not be a simple answer, the true answer to all of these question is, we can’t. We can’t maintain a Torah true lifestyle in America because Galus is a punishment, yet we are treating it as if it were a reward. We talk about our country America, as if it were the one exception to the Torah’s eternal axiom that exile is a curse. As with all of our prior host countries, America will either devour us from within or eventually consume us from without.
We forget that juxtaposed to this curse of exile, there is a reward. The reward that the Torah promises to the Jewish people when they stop acting with spiritual apathy and indifference, is the gift of living and prospering in the Land of Israel. Living there, coming close to Hashem there and creating a situation in which G-d will make His presence felt among them. “Thus I will be a G-d to you, and you will be a nation to me. ” (Vayikra 26:11)
If religious Jews who believe in the Torah, believe in the Torah’s description of what is a true curse and what is a true reward, they should do what they can to escape the curse and take practical steps to work towards the reward. Before its too late.
Avraham Shusteris is an accountant who made aliyah from Monsey NY in 2018 and is currently residing in Ramat Beit Shemesh with his family. He is also the founder of The Nachliel Project, (www.Nachliel.org), an organization created to promote chareidi aliyah from the US.