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.
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
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.
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.