When Jews are tolerated, is that better than being persecuted?
Now in our subject today, we are talking about resistance; that is the banner of the Jewish people. Resistance, as was explained is not only to armed opposition, also resistance is necessary to the ridicule of the nations, habooz l'gei yonim (Tehillim 123:4) the scorn of the arrogant against us, and that's what Mattisyahu had to contend with. But there is another resistance, that's just as difficult and just as important, and for this I will explain with a famous legend.
Once there was a man walking in the street with an overcoat, and the sun and the wind had a conversation. The wind said, "I am going to make this man remove his overcoat!" So the wind began to blow with force to pull the coat off his shoulders. What did the man do? He buttoned his coat more securely and he put his hands in his pockets to keep it from blowing off, and the wind lost out.
Now the sun said, "Let me take over!" And the sun began to shine, and it became warm and hot, and the man unbuttoned his coat, it became hotter so he carried it over his arm, and after a while he put it in his home and did not take it out anymore.
And that's the difference between persecution and tolerance. In the times of persecution there are people who yield, no question some people got lost because of persecution, but the majority of the people remained loyal. But the resistance to tolerance, that was the most difficult test of all. When the German people began to smile-it wasn't a real smile, it was an external smile to the Jewish people-when they showed their admiration for Mendelsohn because he was a writer and a philosopher, and Jews began to breathe the air of freedom, they became intoxicated in Germany.
Now some of them began to assume positions in the universities, high office in government, and therefore it became a rush to assimilation in Germany. This resistance was the weakest of all, the resistance against the sun of tolerance. That's where the Jew is in the greatest danger, and that's our battletoday, to fight back against tolerance.
Now we don't know how long it will happen, Hakadosh Baruch Hu might say, "My children, I see that it's too much of a test for you, to have too much tolerance, so maybe I'll change that and I'll have intolerance, so you'll button your coats more securely." So now the boys that run around with jeans and the girls with pants, and they engage in every kind of wickedness, because they are following the ways of the nations. Maybe after a while they'll think,"Look, the nations hate us, and they are persecuting us, so maybe we should go back to the Jewish people, to our nation, and the boys will go to yeshivas and the girls to Bais Yaakov? Could be it's a better thing.
Of course it would be much smarter if we would use the tolerance that we have now, which permits us to practice our Torah without any hindrance, and now is the time! But I'm afraid that they won't utilize this opportunity.
But that's the great test of the blandishments of the goyim. When the goyim are nice to us, then that's the worst kind of test there is.
Good Shabbos To All
This is transcribed from questions that were posed to Harav Miller by the audience at the Thursday night lectures. To listen to the audio of this Q & A please dial: 201-676-3210