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Unread 02-27-2011, 04:55 PM   #1
chabadtalksn
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Can Jews be friends with the grandchildren of a Nazi?

I am the grandchild of a holocaust survivor. I was very upset when one of my close friends at school mentioned that his grandfather was a Nazi.

What does this mean for our friendship? I don't know if it's appropriate for us to be friends anymore. However, it's not really fair to punish him for his grandfather's mistake.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
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Unread 02-27-2011, 05:04 PM   #2
MahTovChelkeinu
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Was he happy about his grandfather being a Nazi? I would hope (and assume) the answer is no. Otherwise, its not much of a question.

We are all individuals. You can't blame him for the foolish or even criminal acts of his family. If he himself acts a certain way, perhaps you can connect it to where he comes from. But if he rejects anti-semitisim and is a good person himself, I don't think his grandfather is a reason to reject him as a friend.
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Unread 02-28-2011, 12:21 PM   #3
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with friends like this, who needs ennemies
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Unread 02-28-2011, 12:40 PM   #4
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G-d gave us what is called "free will". G-d can predestined us, so to speak, to be tall, little, blind, ugly, etc., but there is something which is not predestined: if we will be tzadikim or reshaim. It's up to us. You can be the son/daughter of a Tzadik but behave as a Rasha and vice-versa. So to judge someone by his/her background may probably lead to wrong conclusions. You need to take the person as s/he is. If his/her family background is something s/he is not proud of, what's the problem?

There are many grandchildren of nazis who openly confessed their shame when they heard the truth about their grandparents, and who are sincere in their feeling. Moreover, many Germans feel a natural sympathy for Jews because of what happened 70 yrs ago. (I'm not saying that anti-semitism and neo-nazism do not exist in Germany, quite the contrary, but Germans of nowadays, thanks to the German politics and introspection on the matter, are different and more learned about Jews, like the Russian people. This is not the case everywhere. But we cannot condemn grandchildren on the ground of what their grandparents did. What about our forefathers who killed many real prophets because they didn't want to hear about teshuva?)
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Unread 02-28-2011, 12:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mosheh5769 View Post
G-d gave us what is called "free will". G-d can predestined us, so to speak, to be tall, little, blind, ugly, etc., but there is something which is not predestined: if we will be tzadikim or reshaim. It's up to us. You can be the son/daughter of a Tzadik but behave as a Rasha and vice-versa. So to judge someone by his/her background may probably lead to wrong conclusions. You need to take the person as s/he is. If his/her family background is something s/he is not proud of, what's the problem?

There are many grandchildren of nazis who openly confessed their shame when they heard the truth about their grandparents, and who are sincere in their feeling. Moreover, many Germans feel a natural sympathy for Jews because of what happened 70 yrs ago. (I'm not saying that anti-semitism and neo-nazism do not exist in Germany, quite the contrary, but Germans of nowadays, thanks to the German politics and introspection on the matter, are different and more learned about Jews, like the Russian people. This is not the case everywhere. But we cannot condemn grandchildren on the ground of what their grandparents did. What about our forefathers who killed many real prophets because they didn't want to hear about teshuva?)
do you think that everyone has free will?
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Unread 02-28-2011, 06:09 PM   #6
mosheh5769
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Originally Posted by chossidnistar View Post
do you think that everyone has free will?
Yes, and that's one of our differences with animals. We can chose to be what we want to be, may it be a rasha or a tzadik, whoever our parents or grandparents were.

Look at Rochel Imenu who was the daughter of a Rasha, the same with Avrohom the son of an idol worshiper or with Yisro the father of Tzipporah who was a priest of Avodah Zarah but embraced Judaism or with Rabbi Akiva who devoted his life to Torah and Mitzvos late in his fourties, and in our times, you have sons/daughters who went out of the derekh despite their parents were/being chassidim. So everybody has the free will to determine what his/her life will be, independently of who were his/her ancestors, may it be for the best or the worse (c'v). I recently read (three or four yrs ago) an article which says that some people family related to the german who tried to exterminate our people (yimach shemo) converted to Judaism, for instance.
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Unread 02-28-2011, 06:15 PM   #7
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there was a famous case about a former nazi who wanted to convert, from memory, the final psak was to accept him
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Unread 02-28-2011, 06:19 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by mosheh5769 View Post
Yes, and that's one of our differences with animals. We can chose to be what we want to be, may it be a rasha or a tzadik, whoever our parents or grandparents were.

Look at Rochel Imenu who was the daughter of a Rasha, the same with Avrohom the son of an idol worshiper or with Yisro the father of Tzipporah who was a priest of Avodah Zarah but embraced Judaism or with Rabbi Akiva who devoted his life to Torah and Mitzvos late in his fourties, and in our times, you have sons/daughters who went out of the derekh despite their parents were/being chassidim. So everybody has the free will to determine what his/her life will be, independently of who were his/her ancestors, may it be for the best or the worse (c'v). I recently read (three or four yrs ago) an article which says that some people family related to the german who tried to exterminate our people (yimach shemo) converted to Judaism, for instance.
you are just mentioning "fre will " examples from jewish ppl
a convert is a katan she nolad.it is a new person
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Unread 02-28-2011, 06:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by chossidnistar View Post
you are just mentioning "fre will " examples from jewish ppl
a convert is a katan she nolad.it is a new person
So, let's mention Iyov and the citizens of Ninevah in Yona HaNovi's time...

Or those non-Jews who choose to save Jews from the Nazis, despite that their neighbours were collaborators...
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Unread 02-28-2011, 06:36 PM   #10
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bring source
afaik, free will is only applied in the 7 mitzvos
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Unread 02-28-2011, 06:36 PM   #11
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Bekhol makom, we find that Rambam wrote:
חסידי אומות העולם יש להם חלק לעולם הבא
We also find in Bamidbar Rabbah 8:2 :
ב איש או אשה וגו' הה"ד (תהלים קמו) ה' אוהב צדיקים וגו' כך אמר הקב"ה אני אוהבי אהב וכה"א (ש"א ב) כי מכבדי אכבד הם אוהבים אותי ואף אני אוהב אותם ולמה הקדוש ברוך הוא אוהב צדיקים שאינן נחלה אינם משפחה את מוצא הכהנים בית אב הם הלוים בית אב הם שנאמר (תהלים קלו) בית אהרן ברכו את ה' בית הלוי ברכו את ה' אם מבקש אדם להיות כהן אינו יכול להיות לוי אינו יכול למה שלא היה אביו לא כהן ולא לוי אבל אם מבקש אדם להיות צדיק אפילו גוי יכול הוא שאינו בית אב לכך הוא אומר יראי ה' ברכו את ה' בית יראי ה' לא נאמר אלא יראי ה' אינו בית אב אלא מעצמם נתנדבו ואהבו להקב"ה לפיכך הקדוש ברוך הוא אוהבם
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Unread 02-28-2011, 06:43 PM   #12
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To be righteous and virtuous is not something related to being born in a specific family and even gentiles have the choice to do good and be righteous as is said in that aformentioned Midrash.

I see nothing in that passage which implies or indicate that we speak only about 7 laws but about any goy who would choose to do good and be virtuous.
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Unread 02-28-2011, 07:08 PM   #13
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And let's suppose that all this speak only about gentiles who accepted the 7 laws (whatever the word "accepted" means). Is it taught in Judaism that we should despise gentiles on the simple fact they are gentiles? When gentiles are good with us and freely chose to act kindly toward us, it's our duty to recognize the good they demonstrated on our behalf. And this was the attitude the Rebbe had throughout his nesius. On many occasions the Rebbe mentioned the goodness American people and society demonstrated on our behalf, without basing his "praise" on their acceptance or not of the 7 laws, but on the simple good they shown for our people. He even indicated some of the positive side of the American values, while warning us about the negative as well. So yes, when Gentiles freely decide to act positively and with goodness toward us, where is the problem to enjoy a good and friendship relationship with them? Don't forget, we are in golus. We already have so much ennemies. it's useless to add to that number by our systematic negative attitude toward gentiles, especially those who are sincere in their wish and will to enjoy a peaceful relationship with us. Moreover, I am certain that those gentiles who saved Jews in the time of the Nazis were not moved to act friendly on our behalf because of the 7 laws almost 100% of them did never hear about...
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Unread 02-28-2011, 07:40 PM   #14
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http://www.chabadtalk.com/forum/showthread.php3?t=3736
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Unread 03-24-2011, 09:13 AM   #15
mosheh5769
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A Rabbi told me that the Rebbe said there were some exceptions to the general rule, and that there are some goyim who are able to do pure chesed for the sake of others.
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Unread 03-24-2011, 09:22 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chossidnistar View Post
bring source
afaik, free will is only applied in the 7 mitzvos
The answer I received by e-mail reads like that:

Quote:
Hi, Moshe,
I would like to make a small correction: The Rebbe said numerous times that non-Jews have free choice with regard to their mitzvahs. A Jew's free choice also extends primarily to doing mitzvahs. There are differences between the free will of a Jew and that of a non-Jew, in the sense that a Jew has the ability to bring a transcendent level of G-dliness into the world through his or her mitzvahs, while a non-Jew's choice is with regard to behaving in a civilized and upright manner. If non-Jews had no free choice, there would be no concept of reward and punishment for them, nor any expectation of mitzvah fulfillment. In fact Maimonides uses Pharaoh, a non-Jew, as an example in his discussion of free choice.

On a philosophical level, the source of our ability to choose is because we were created in the image of G-d. Since G-d is truly not influenced by anything in existence, His is the ultimate freedom to choose. Because we (both Jew and non-Jew) were created "in His image", as Maimonides explains, we are like Him in being able to independently choose our actions, without influence of our nature or anything else. This also tells us that the ability to make choices is outside of logic/nature, but is G-dly.
It doesn't look like it only applies to 7 mitzvos, or maybe I didn't understand well...
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Unread 03-24-2011, 12:05 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by mosheh5769 View Post
The answer I received by e-mail reads like that:


It doesn't look like it only applies to 7 mitzvos, or maybe I didn't understand well...
most problably
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Unread 03-27-2011, 11:10 AM   #18
mosheh5769
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chossidnistar View Post
most problably
Yes, I misunderstood him. He sent me the following clarification:

Quote:
Hi Moshe,
In the Rebbe's letter which you attached, he explains the idea. Here are a few points to help understand the letter.
1) The Rebbe quotes earlier sources in Chassidus which imply that non-Jews do not have free choice. He finds it difficult to reconcile with the Rambam (mentioned in my previous post) which implies that they have free choice in an equal sense as Jews do.
2) As mentioned, true free choice only makes sense for G-d, Who is not influenced by anything else, since all comes from Him. A human being should not be able to choose, since it is counter-intuitive, not logical/natural. Logic and nature dictate that a given set of circumstances will produce a predictable result. That the same set of circumstances should be able to yield two different results based on a person's choice is incomprehensible. In fact, many philosophers question whether free choice really exists.
3) Man is able to have free choice only because we are "made in G-d's image = similar to G-d"; i.e., there is an element to us that transcends nature.
4) However we explain things, non-Jews certainly have some level of choice in their actions, in that they make conscious decisions. The question is, how "free" is it? How much is it a product of the various influences in their lives?
5) The surprising idea here is not really that non-Jews do not "have free choice", but that Jews do. This is because, as "children of Hashem your G-d", we "inherit" this "trait" from G-d. I.e. there is something transcendent in the innate nature of a Jew. (More on this in the discussion of the citation from Tanya.)
6) Nevertheless, one possible explanation is that though free choice is not "natural" to human beings, that state is changed by G-d giving us commandments. Through this, the human (non-Jew) is elevated above his natural state. This may be compared to a great man requesting something of a commoner. The commoner now becomes important, his status changes, through doing what the great one requested.
7) This truly free choice only applies to non-Jews fulfilling their Seven Mitzvahs and their offshoots. In all other areas, their choices are not entirely free.
8) The same is true to a great extent for Jews as well: our free choice is in the arena of fulfilling the Torah. However, a) we have more mitzvahs/situations where we exercise free choice; b) there may be a concept of free choice in other areas as well, but I don't entirely understand what that means.
So much for the Rebbe's letter. The question still remains, how do we digest the idea that a Jew is innately different and of a higher quality than a non-Jew?
Let's examine the quote from Tanya. Superficially, the term "kelipah" is synonymous with "evil". However, the Alter Rebbe explains in Ch 6 that "Sitra Achara means "another side" which is not the side of holiness. The side of holiness is only that upon which G-d dwells, and G-d only dwell upon that which is completely submitted to Him, whether actually, as the angels are, or potentially, as is every Jew, who has the potential for self-sacrifice to sanctify G-d's Name." And in Ch 7: "Anything... done for the desire of the body... where one's intention is not for the sake of heaven... derives from Kelipah." This idea is reiterated in Ch 10 and elsewhere. Thus, the definition of Kelipah is "self-directed", while holiness means "G-d directed".
So when it is said that non-Jewish souls come from Kelipah, it means they are human beings. They do things for themselves; and there is nothing ugly about that. In fact, this is accepted as true and even healthy by most people. When people do good and altruistic acts, there is some gain they get from it 99% of the time, even if only that it makes them feel good. At the same time, as you mentioned, this is a rule with exceptions. The "Righteous Gentiles of the World" have souls that stem from Kelipat Nogah, like Jews do. I would argue that nowadays there are more of these than in times past, and that in the "Free world" (or at least America) there is a disproportionate number of righteous gentiles. For this reason it is hard for us to swallow Tanya's characterization. A look at human history and at what is going on in other places on earth should convince one that the Alter Rebbe's description is not far off the mark.
The uniqueness of a Jew is the ability for self-sacrifice, against his self-interest, for G-d; or, potential holiness. (I.e. a Jew can achieve a higher spiritual height if he works really hard, not that he is naturally superior.) This is explained at length in Ch 18-19. This comes from an additional quality that G-d gave the Jewish People when He "chose" us at Mt. Sinai, called the G-dly Soul. We were charged with the task of bringing transcendence to the world, not morality or goodness. It would be insulting to say that the only people who are moral and good are Torah observant Jews. That is demonstrably false. That is a charge G-d gave humanity as a whole. We were charged with bringing holiness - "absolute submission to G-d" and abnegation of ego - into a world that superficially seems to oppose the very notion. To accomplish this, we were given the Nefesh HaElokis with its "superpowers" of transcendence above the limitations of nature, logic, and the 3, 4, or 11 dimensions of reality. It is, in a sense, an alien life-form.
And the goal? When we do our job right, elevate the whole world, and bring Moshiach, the entire world will be plugged into this higher reality of holiness and G-dliness. See the end of Ch 36.
One more thought: certain terms act as psychological triggers that cause us to automatically make associations that may be incorrect. For example, words like "superior" or "evil" in reference to different people tend to conjure up images of Nazism and other racist ideologies. However: 1) Judaism is not a race; any human of any background can become a Jew equal to all others if they choose. It is a mission and value system, and there is no shame in believing that to be superior to others. 2) As mentioned, the "specialness" is potential and must be earned, not an automatic right. 3) All beings are obligated to serve G-d, and in that no one is better than any other. The difference between Jew and non-Jew is how they serve, and what they are able to accomplish for G-d. But it is certainly a team effort, and no one is dispensable. 4) The very notion that superiority confers the right to dominate and oppress is abhorrent and un-Jewish. Having the Torah and a G-dly soul means greater responsibility and obligation, not more rights
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Unread 07-30-2011, 04:40 PM   #19
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We all have relatives who have marred our past. Unless he shares his grandfather's beliefs, accept him as an individual!!!!
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Unread 01-12-2012, 03:55 AM   #20
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Adam-man

The word Adam in Hebrew seems to be a trilateral root meaning Red-Fair-Handsome- It is related to the words,adom(red)-admoni(ruddy)-and dam(blood)..Therefore the implication from the words ruddy and blood(show blood in the face) as if to blush(over shyness,emotions etc.),seems to have definite racial connotations,this fact can not escape ones intellect..
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