24 Av 5781 / Monday, August 02, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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News in the Mikva

Can we afford intramural hate? If we "kill off" every Jew except the ones in our group, how does Hashem feel? There won't be anyone left for Hashem to redeem!


Rabbi Shalom Arush, may Hashem bless him always, told me the following joke:


Napolean, during his conquest of the East, arrived in the Land of Israel. He asked his intelligence officer the best way to glean information about the locals. “If you want to know what’s going on inside the Jewish community,” said the intel officer, “go to the men’s mikva; you can hear all the news there.” Napolean heeded this very sound piece of advice – an outstanding morsel of intelligence in itself – dressed up like a Jew and went to the men’s mikva the following morning. He overheard the following conversation between two Jews there:

“What’s the good news, Avraham?”
“Everybody’s saying that Napolean is somewhere in the mikva!”
* * *
A society’s humor truly reflects that society’s image. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches in his famous tale “The Modest King” that we learn about the people of a given nation by listening to their humor. In that light, there’s more than a grain of truth in the Napolean joke. Even though one should refrain from talking in the mikva – undress, immerse, dress, and leave as quickly and as modestly as possible . Every mikva has its notorious parliamentarians.
I was dressing one morning in the mikva when I overheard the following conversation between two married Talmudic students:
“I don’t know how it’s possible to live in this country; 80% are secular, and they’re destroying everything Jewish!”
“What do you want from the seculars, Yankel’e – they don’t know better. The biggest enemy is the National Religious; what a sacrilege the way they worship the flag and the army – they even have TVs in their houses.”
“TV is nothing! What about the internet? All the modern orthodox have internet and computers – that’s the real poison, Moish!”
“Poison, uh uh. The real poison is the sheitlach – how can a Talmudic scholar let his wife wear all kinds of seductive wigs? Our sages would be doing somersaults in their graves!”
“C’mon Moish – there’re no real Torah learners left any more except in our Yeshiva. The Lubavitchers are chasing Moshiach, the Breslevers are dancing on the roofs of cars, Satmar and Reb Arlach are burning trashcans in Yerushalayim, and Ger, Belz, and Vizhnitz are eating potato kugel at tish.”
“You’re right, Yankele. Look how there’re no more Novardoker Yeshivas left. The youngsters all want the gold watches and the clean-shaven faces. What are you talking about the Chassidim for? Even the Livitshe world has drifted far away from Torah…”
“Yeh, Moish – everybody’s on a slide. In the old days, the Sefardim had great scholars. Now, they’re spending their time in politics. That’s really unkosher! Thank goodness for our Yeshiva…”
I never open my mouth in the mikva. If someone speaks to me, I usually answer in pretty-decent sign language. But, this time was an exception – I had to breathe deeply several times to compose myself after unintentionally eavesdropping on Moish and Yankel’e, the two self-appointed gatekeepers of the sole truth.
We have the image of the Holy Temple going up in flames before our eyes as if it were an event that occurred yesterday and not nearly 2,000 years ago. The Gemara teaches us that the Temple was destroyed because of intramural hate. Here I was, in the mikva, hearing the venom of intramural hate flow like water. And here we are, still up to our necks in the mud of sinat chinam, of intramural hate? What could be more dangerous?
King David teaches in Psalm 119 that sometimes you have to violate a small mitzvah to keep a mitzvah of significant proportions. I had to break the ordinance of keeping silent in the mikva to protest this show of intramural hate, the core reason of our tragic downfall.
Turning to the two young men, I said: “How many Jews are there in the world? One tenth of one percent? You guys murdered all the secular Jews, and that’s 80% of our people. You shoot down the national religious, all the Chassidim, and the Sephardim too. According to you two, nobody’s kosher except for your Yeshiva? How do you think Hashem feels when you’re both on record as hating all His children? Hitler only killed a third of our people. Hamas and Hizbolla killed a few hundered. You two have destroyed all the rest! You haven’t left anybody for Hashem to redeem!”
That made them blush. At that point, I grabbed my towel and left. Why did Hashem make me privy to their sick conversation, I asked myself during hitbodedut later that day. Obvious – so I’d write about it here and pray that we work together to uproot the cancer of intramural hate from our midst – forever – amen!

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  4 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  Great Article
Yoshiyahu1/16/2013 12:06:37 AM
Anonymous,7/21/2011 11:23:27 PM
  Perfect for the 3 Weeks and beyond
Anonymous,7/13/2009 11:02:33 PM
  If words could kill directly...
Chava7/13/2009 8:40:37 AM

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