Judaism without Jews?

Many Jews more interested in saving the planet than in creating a family themselves and ensuring Jewish survival for the future.

October 29, 2010 16:15
3 minute read.
Haredim praying at Kotel

Haredim at Kotel 311. (photo credit: AP)

One of the more amazing predictions regarding the Jewish people that appears in the Torah is that numerically speaking we will always be a small nation. That certainly has been the case over our long history. At the time of the destruction of the Second Temple the Chinese were twice our numbers. Almost two millennia later the Chinese are approximately one hundred times our numbers. In 1939 on the eve of World War II there were 19 million Jews in the world. Today, 70 years later we are at least four million under that number. There should be simply by natural growth 60 million Jews in the world but there are not nearly that number extant. This has been the price of what the modern world has inflicted upon us – the Holocaust and its attendant generational impact, assimilation, intermarriage, the reduction of marriage and family as being viewed as subservient to other so-called life values, a very diminished birthrate outside of the Orthodox community and a general tendency to avoid marriage, marry later in life and accepted practices and lifestyles of homosexuality. All of this means that there are fewer Jews and fewer Jews means a weakening of Judaism and Judaic values. Tragically many Jews are more interested in saving the planet (whatever that may mean) than in creating a family themselves and ensuring Jewish survival for the future. Karl Marx, the apostate self-hating Jew, wrote a vicious anti-Semitic pamphlet entitled “A World Without Jews.” He predicted that such a world would be utopia incarnate. Unfortunately much of the world, including a significant number of Jews as well, took him seriously.

WE READ in the Torah and Midrash that immediately after the near death of Isaac, Abraham immediately concentrates on finding a proper mate for Isaac – to marry him off and thus produce the continuity of Abraham’s great ideals and message for humanity. Ideals and ideas are wonderful but in the abstract they eventually lose sway. Only people, real live human beings, can propagate and translate noble thoughts into practical human behavior. Without Isaac marrying and having children, Abraham fears that time and events will bury his hopes and accomplishments. There will be no one who will continue to raise his banner and proclaim monotheism and morality in a world that is always on the brink of depraved and violent behavior, paganism and disbelief, and distorted ideals and values.

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I thought that after the Holocaust the Jewish world would also think in that fashion. The greatest tribute to the memory of our martyrs and the ultimate revenge upon those that murdered them is a Jewish people risen from the ashes and numerically and spiritually and physically stronger than before. The State of Israel has accomplished some of these goals but in terms of our numbers we are woefully deficient. Modern society scoffs at those who have large families and our superior intellectuals look down from their selfbelieved lofty perches at them with disdain and contempt. This attitude is self-destructive to all true Jewish interests and to our future survival.

WHEN I WAS a rabbi in Miami Beach 40 years ago the great sainted Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, the Ponivezher Rav, visited our community for a few months in the winter to raise funds for his yeshiva, orphanages and other projects. I had the great privilege of becoming close to him. One day he called me and asked me to arrange a meeting in my home with all of the younger couples affiliated with my congregation. I told him that I would do so but I cautioned him that I did not think that he would raise much money from them, what with their tuition and household expense struggles. He gently told me that he was not going to speak to them about money or donations at all.

At the meeting, that was very well attended since I assured everyone that no requests for donations would take place, he arose and said to them: “My beloved children. There are the souls of a million and a half Jewish children, under the age of 12, who were murdered in the Holocaust floating in the air above us. Our task is to give those souls bodies to live within. You are the only ones that can provide those bodies.”

As he sat down after his few words the shock in the room was palpable. But that year 20 children were born into our community. Many of those children are even grandparents today. Without Jews there is no Judaism. That is the message of Abraham and Isaac, Sarah and Rebekah to us as well today.

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