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Mar 18, 2008

an incident with the Sadigura Rebbe about relations with Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been visiting Israel. Today she is set to deliver a speech in the Knesset in German. This has set off a debate whether she should be forced to speak a different language, such as English, not speak at all, or allow her to speak in German.

Some say let her speak, she is a friend of Israel. The holocaust was a long time ago, let's move on, etc. Others say that it is reprehensible to have to hear German in our Knesset. German is the language with which our parents and grandparents were slaughtered. Holocaust survivors were tortured with German and should not have to hear that in the Knesset of Israel. Some MKs said they will walk out and refuse to be present for a speech in German in the Knesset.

I am of the opinion that it is not a big deal and it is time to move on. We take so much money from Germany, that having to listen to a speech in German should not be so offensive. And if you do not want to listen, change the channel on your TV or radio.

But better than my opinion is this newspaper clipping (I do not know what paper it is from) from 1961 that I found on an Israeli Hebrew forum. The newspaper clipping relates a story involving the Sadigura Rebbe and is fascinating and sheds light on current events.
The author relates an incident in which he accompanied the Sadigura Rebbe went to a funeral of a chassid in Tel Aviv. The author spends some time describing the regalness of the Rebbe and his demeanor and how he greeted the taxi driver.

The taxi got to a certain intersection and there was an unusual atmosphere. The Rebbe asked what is going on and the taxi drivers response was that there is a world conference of mayors.

As the taxi pulled up to the house of the deceased, they saw the whole area lined with all the different flags of the various countries participating. Suddenly they heard the sounds of the National Anthem as the President of Israel arrived in the area. The Rebbe became very emotional and asked the driver to pull over to the side. He closed his eyes and listened to the anthem.

When it was over and they began moving again, the Rebbe said, "If all the nations of the world are honoring our anthem, how can we treat it with disrespect!? One should not continue driving when he hears our anthem. These are things that need to be treated with full respect."

As the taxi continued on its way, the Rebbe continued, "Just a few short years ago, we were nothing in the eyes of the nations. downtrodden, worthless. Now, with the kindness of Hashem, representatives from all over the world are coming to us to learn from our accomplishments. It is impossible to understand those who do not see the greatness in this."

The author writes that he said to the Rebbe, "Even representatives from Germany have come. There are those who think that we should not allow them to step on our land. "

The Rebbe contorted his face in dissatisfaction and shook his head "no". The Rebbe said, "This is an approach that is not correct. We do not have a community that can allow itself [the luxury of] boycotting a large nation. We are a country, and countries have obligations." After a pause for contemplation, the Rebbe continued, "our accounting of the Jewish nation with the German nation, we have yet to come to. We cannot do this, only Hashem, the avenging God, can do this. But that has nothing to do with the relations between the State of Israel, as a state, and between Germany. We are not even allowed to talk about boycotting Germany. Do not forget that we do not have so many nations that support us. If there is a nation that wants normal relations with us - we should not refuse it."


  1. forget about the relationship with germany (i really don't care what language she speaks in)
    but what about the lesson the the sadigura rebbe shows respect to the national anthem (hatikva)?

  2. you are absolutely right, and I meant to point that out as well. As I was writing the post and translating the story, it slipped my mind while working on the Germany issue.

  3. Ironically, no one seems to mind that Sadat addressed the Knesset in Arabic.

  4. Once again the Sadegere Rebbe has shown the most reason/compassion. The current Rebbe was one of the few members of the Agudah who were passionately against the disengagement.

    And a few other thoughts...the Rebbe was speaking about a country that wanted relations with us. What about a country that actively supports us at a time when most nations don't??!!
    Not to mention...what would we do if Oscar Schindler were alive? We wouldn't let him speak in German? What if someone had assassinated Hitler in 1941...would we let him speak in German in front of the Knesset?


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