Do Not Run Away from Your Culture

If you do not respect yourself, no one will respect you. This principle holds true in marriage and in child rearing (whoever makes a floor-mop of himself cannot expect respect from their spouse or children), but it is also true nationally. Some 200 years ago, Rabbi Raphael Samson Hirsch dealt in Germany with many Jews who abandoned their tradition and belittled it. At that time, he wrote an essay for Hanukkah, in which he reminded them that even if they give up on their culture – it would still not help them at the end of the day to integrate into German society. Here is a meaningful short paragraph from that essay, which is very relevant to our situation today:

“To the extent to which you will respect and admire your past and your holy values, so will the nations respect you. It could be that for this reason or the other you will win less or more sympathy from them, but their respect – you will win. However, if you yourself treat your past with disrespect, if you do not respect the burial places of your fathers, of you do not respect your Holy Temple and you do not try to acquire proper knowledge of your Torah – how could you expect others to respect you and your forefathers? Many pleasures are in store for you if you deny the Torah, but respect is not one of them. How great the mistake that all of those progressive, educated people made, the priests of renewal. Go out and learn what does a Hanukkah candle tell you!”

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סיון רהב-מאיר

Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds and the live broadcast attracts thousands more listeners throughout the world.
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