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.