If Rabbi Daniel Lapin lived 100 years ago
Toward Tradition: Own Own Worst Enemy
I am an Orthodox Jewish rabbi sadly denouncing one of the most popular books of 1904. What has earned my wrath? Here is a clue— "Mark Twain." No, I'm not talking about Mr. Twain's essays regarding the alleged Belgian atrocities in the Congo. The book causing me deep distress was written by a self-hating Jewish shtetl resident who is styled as the "Jewish Mark Twain."
I am reluctant to name the book on account of the implied vulgarity of it's main character. (What kind of name is "Tevye" anyway?) If you are reluctant to part with good money for the privilege of seeing the Jewish people being defamed, you should not buy this book. In spite of being written in Yiddish and having a "Jewish" author who has the temerity to give himself a Hebrew pen name, "Shalom Aleichem," this books’s vile notions of Jews are not too different from those used by Czarist propagandists
I take especial execption to the short story entitled "Chanukah Gelt." In this story, practically every Jewish family depicted is a traditional two-parent, Orthodox, and has a wife who is a full-time homemaker. So far, so good, this is what chazal says that God wants from us. But Mr. Aleichem slanders such families by depicting every single one of them is totally and irredemably dysfunctional and neurotic.
Doesn't Mr. Aleichem realize that 100 years from now, Rabbi Perry Raphael Rank will urge the Jewish people to follow the example of their "great bubbes and zaydes" and return to the lifestyle of the shtetl? Why would they want to do that after reading one of Mr. Aleichem's books? Doesn't Mr. Aleichem realize that 101 years from now, Ms. Toby Katz, a devout rebbitzin, will demonstrate that the "traditional " lifestyle of the shtetl with full-time homemaker moms is the only way to preserve the Jewish people? How will these rightoeus efforts come to anything if the Jewish people believ in the slnaders propagated by Mr. Aleichem?
Jews in the next century will read Mr. Aleichem's work and realize that Rabbi Rank and Ms. Katz are full of ... well, they will not follow their advice, and they will continue to be secularist Reform and Conservatives, and most of them will probably vote for liberal Democrats, G-d forbid.
Mr. Aleichem should realize the error of his ways. The entire future of the Jewish people is in his hands. He should refrain from writing untill the Artscroll press is founded, and then make sure his work is edited by a God-fearing right-wing Orthodox rabbi.