Sunday, January 5, 2020

When Jews Expel Jews

Before Yaakov Avinu set out to Egypt, "he sent Yehuda ahead of him... to guide the way to Goshen -- ואת יהודה שלח לפניו ...להורות לפניו גשנה." Our sages explain that he had sent Yehuda to establish a house of learning which would provide Torah instruction (הוראה) to Israel in that foreign land. [1] As eager as he was to see his long-lost son Yosef, Yaakov would not resettle his family in a place devoid of Torah study.

Lesson: a Jew cannot survive in exile without a house of learning that provides Torah instruction to him and his family. Exclusionary schools that only provide instruction to a select few, or even a select majority, are effectively banning Jewish families from the community, since a Jew may not dwell in that place without a house of learning that will service his family.

Ousting unvaccinated children from your school means you are banishing them and their families from your community. It is akin to excommunication [2]. Worse, it's akin to expulsion.

This cannot be overstated. Jews don't expel Jews. It is inherently anti-Jewish and unspeakably odious.

Expulsion is the work of antisemites like Ferdinand and Isabella. The Israeli government expelled eight-thousand Jews of Gush Katif and the entire Torah-observant world was aghast. Yet we now are witnessing the unprecedented expulsion of thousands of Jewish children and their families at the hands of orthodox rabbis (!!) throughout the United States and the Jewish world is silent! Simply incomprehensible.

Chanukah always occurs the week before Parshas Vayigash. Chanukah comes from the word "chinuch," education.

It is no coincidence that it is only in this parsha that the word גשנה appears, hinting to the four letters that appear on the traditional chanukah game, dreidel.

It is told that the dreidel dates back to the time of the Seleucid Greek rule over the Holy Land—which set off the Maccabean revolt that culminated in the Chanukah miracle. Learning Torah was outlawed by the enemy, a "crime" punishable by death. The Jewish children resorted to hiding in caves in order to study. If a Greek patrol would approach, the children would pull out their tops and pretend to be playing a game.
By playing dreidel during Chanukah we are reminded of the courage of those children. It reminds us of Jewish resilience and perseverance throughout the ages, our ancestors who historically risked their lives to teach Torah to all Jewish children.

It's also no coincidence that this "game" is hinted to in the same verse cited above in which Yaakov sends Yehuda to establish a house of study to teach Torah to Israel.

Why Yehuda? Simple. Yehuda was the one who risked his life for Binyamin in the beginning of the parsha. It was Yehuda who refused to stand by idly and demonstrated true responsibility for his younger brother, and would not abandon his brother in Egypt, even if the latter had ostensibly broken the law.

It is Yehuda's courage and unwavering commitment to every single Jewish child that guided our people throughout our exile. It is that selflessness that's reflected in the dredel.
Perhaps today's administrators and rabbis ought to learn a lesson from the dreidel.

Even in NY State, where Jewish children have been banned from attending school, perhaps these rabbis ought to walk in the ways of our courageous ancestors and teach Torah to these children nonetheless. If NY State officials come to inspect, the children can take out dreidels. "They weren't here to study," the teacher can say, "but just to play a game."

Meanwhile, the rabbis of NY State have shown no such courage or responsibility for these abandoned children. Instead, they eagerly obeyed the modern-day Seleucid Greek decree and expelled Jewish families from their communities.

This is no game. It's dangerous business.

When will these rabbis learn the lessons from Jewish history?

[1] Vayigash 46:28, Rashi.
[2] Moreover, it is effectively rendering your entire community guilty of the same, since any community that doesn't provide Torah teachers for all the local children is guilty of excommunication. (Shabbos 119b, Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:3)


Anonymous said...

I admire your courage to say things how they are. I would add that we are facing a precipitous rise in antisemitism in America. Yehuda, when he and his fellow shevatim faced antagonism, did some soul searching and admitted that Hashem had found them guilty of the sin of selling their brother. When we are faced with hatred against us it is a sure sign there is hatred among us. As you point out, brothers don't throw brothers out of their homes or schools, and if this is happening in our communities to supposedly insure the safety of children we might need to be reminded that only Hashem can keep our children safe. Hashem should save us from both gzeiros ra'os and sinas chinam as we daven on Rosh Hashanah.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being so brave and standing up for us. I had to homeschool my children for an entire year and suffer tremendous humiliation; not because of Goyim but because of our own people. We were banned from shuls, my children were getting bullied and beaten up, we've been taunted for this, kicked out of mikvaos, and on top of that we had Rabbonim coming to our door telling us to leave because we are "not wanted". This coming from our own nation. I am truly afraid for my children's future because I see people's behaviors has made damage onto my children's ability to trust others in klal yisroel. May our nation learn from this experience and quickly do teshuva, and allow it to bring the Geula that we've been waiting for.