Weekly Inspiration

Forget PR
June 27th, 2024
Forget PR

This week’s parsha recounts the tragic episode of the miraglim, the spies who were unable to maintain their emunah in the face of intense pressure. The results were catastrophic. Their weakness spread like a plague and resulted in the events of Tisha B’Av, the day of our greatest tragedies. 

When will we learn!

A news story has been circulating about the Fieldston School, a “pricey private high school” in New York City which has been described as a “hotbed of Jew hatred.” (New York Post) 

I can tell you all about the Fieldston School. I am a Fieldston graduate. It is one of the great miracles of my life that I – along with my wife – escaped from this Gehenom

Fieldston is one of three schools founded by the New York Society for Ethical Culture. I attended these schools from the age of three until I was eighteen. My mother and her brothers attended these schools, as did my two siblings. My parents were deeply involved in both the Society for Ethical Culture and the schools. 

It began all so innocently. Just as the miraglim went into Eretz Canaan with the best of intentions, so the founders of Ethical Culture thought they were saving the world. 

Jews are always searching for a way to carry out “tikun olam,” and so it was with Felix Adler, the German Jew who founded the Ethical Culture Society in 1877. Adler was a rebel from Yiddishkeit, a child of the so-called “Enlightenment,” which in truth brought nothing but darkness into this world. He founded in New York a so-called “religious movement” which provided a haven for Jews who were searching for a rationale to bolster their desire to flee from the Torah lifestyle. They had inhaled the beguiling aroma of the gashmius of America and now they desired to swallow the entire treif meal. 

But how could they satisfy their inner longing for “tikkun olam?” How could they rationalize their embrace of the American dream? Felix Adler provided them with exactly what they needed, a pseudo-religion which seemed just right for Jews who needed to cloak their obsession with the culture of America in a veneer of moral integrity. 

I said above that my own parents were deeply involved. The term “tinok shenishba” describes them well. They had never been exposed to a Torah lifestyle. They were born in America. How could they know what a Torah lifestyle was? As deeply moral and idealistic people, they believed that they could contribute through the Ethical Movement to making a better world. How could they know where this would lead? 

But catastrophe has resulted from the work of Felix Adler just as catastrophe resulted from the work of the miraglim. After over almost a hundred and fifty years, during which thousands of Jews (as well as others) have passed through the doors of the Ethical Culture Society and Schools – thousands who lost their way and became haters of their own people – the schools have now become as described above: “hotbeds of Jew hatred.” 

Is this a surprise? 

The Torah tells us: “choose life!”

Why do we insist on choosing death?

We are now witnessing a worldwide tsunami of Jew hatred. Every day it reaches new levels. “Like rivers they (the enemies of Israel) shall raise their voice; like rivers they shall raise their destructiveness….” (Tehillim 93) The noise becomes louder and louder. And we are looking for new answers and good PR for Israel! “Tell the nations how good we are, how moral, how kind, how sensitive, how fair-minded! We are the innocent ones and they are the barbarians! Tell the world! It is so clear!”

What has gone wrong? Why don’t they want to hear the truth? 

My friends: Stop! 

It has nothing to do with PR. We do not need the approbation of the nations of the world! There is only One Place where we need approval, from the Master of the Universe. 

“Min ha maitzar …. From the straits I called upon Hashem. He answered me with expansiveness. Hashem is with me. I have no fear. How can man affect me? …. It is better to take refuge in Hashem than to rely on man….” (Tehillim 118)

We recently experienced Shavuos. We stood at Har Sinai and heard Hashem’s Voice. What is wrong with us? Every experiment with “other gods” has failed. The miraglim failed! Felix Adler failed! Every false god has failed us. 

PR is also a false god. We do not need the understanding or approval of the nations! We only need to cry out to the Master of the Universe! “Ana Hashem hoshia na … Please Hashem save us now!” If we follow the clear Truth of the Torah then, in one lightning flash, we will see Yeshuas Hashem!

Listen to this week’s Haftara! When we cry out to Hashem, the nations will say, “our hearts [have] melted. No spirit is left in us because of you (the Nation of Israel), for Hashem, your G-d, He is G-d in the heavens above and the earth below!” 

We don’t need PR. We don’t need their love. We need only to love each other and Hashem’s Torah. Then, in an instant, He will send the Redeemer! 


Emuna: Trust in G-d
Eretz Canaan: The Land of Israel
Gashmius: Materialism
Gehenom: Hell
Miraglim: the Biblical spies who brought back a false report
Parsha: Torah Portion
Tikkun Olam: Fixing the world 
Tinok shenishpa: A Jew raised without knowledge of Torah
Treif: Non-kosher

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