Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coca-Cola Yiddishkeit

Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz has a fantastic piece on how Judaism has changed and how it must change back, using the best product in the world to make the point. He directed a speech at members of The Greatest Generation - but to teach our generation - and here are a couple of the points he said: (emphasis mine)
You kept things simple. In fact, I could probably fit all the instructions you gave us on the back of an index card. Be a mentch. [...] Get an education, be self-sufficient, and give something back to the community...

At our Pesach sedarim, you didn’t distribute ‘matzoh cards’ to make sure that we had the proper shiurim or share profound divrei Torah with us, but your eyes brimmed with tears when you spoke to us about our glorious mesorah. [...] You didn’t deal much with segulos for parnasa like ‘chai rotel’ and ‘shlissel challah’ but always stressed the importance of ehrlichkeit in our financial dealings, living below one’s means, and scrupulously giving tzedaka.

On April 23, 1985, with much fanfare, Coca-Cola, the largest beverage manufacturer in the world, launched a sweeter version of the soft drink named 'New Coke,' withdrawing its traditional 99-year old formula. [...]

My yeshiva-educated generation, for all the right reasons, and with the best of intentions, introduced a ‘new and improved’ brand of chinuch – with longer hours and progressively elevated standards (read: pressure) in academics, dress codes, and social norms for our children, with increasingly more and more emphasis on gemarah b’iyun at the expense of other limudim, general studies, hobbies, and exercise.

... You prepared us for secular culture whereas we shelter our children from it. You played offense; we play defense. You celebrated the enrollment of each and every Jewish child to a Mesivta or Bais Yaakov; we send rejection letters. You raised children; we tried to raise gedolim.

It's a very meaningful piece that is quite the lesson to learn. Please read the whole thing.


  1. I think you should post the WHOLE description of a mentch, since it would be beneficial to be everything: Learn and master our Torah. “Farbreng nisht der tzeit -- make the best use of every minute of every day. Make a kiddush Hashem wherever you go – don’t ever forget that you are wearing a yarmulke. Get an education, be self-sufficient, and give something back to the community.

  2. I know, and originally had it, but I try not to excerpt too much in hopes people will read it. I also like leaving mentch undefined.

  3. very nice posting - well done, yasher koach.

    i love the line about "scrupulously giving tzedaka". fantastic.

    tzedakah is very powerful, and most so when 'done right'. one of the best ways to do it is via mitzvah heroes (as taught to us by danny siegel - ) - and you need to be sure that all tzedakah is given to people and places that use it efficiently and effectively. if you give to a place that has high overhead (anything over 15% for sure), then you are actually stealing from the poor person who is supposed to be the recipient. (al tigzol dal kee dal hu - mishlei 22:22 and the various comments on it, particularly bamidbar rabba 5:2)

    arnie draiman

  4. This was beautiful, and apt. Thanks for posting.

  5. I had the pleasure of hearing Rabbi Horowitz speak over chag, and I remembered reading this article by him. He is truly inspiring.