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December 23, 1994 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-12-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ek.k.

C-Ok

SINAI HOSPITAL

Sinai Hospital Ambulatory Services Division
is pleased to welcome

Yefim Levy, M.D.

Distance Immorality,
Achieve Redemption

CHAYA SARAH SILBERBERG SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

T

in the practice of Medicine
with a specialty in Internal Medicine.

Dr. Levy joins the office of
Vladimir Klemptner, M.D., P.C.,
who also specializes in Internal Medicine.

Dr. Levy is fluent in the Russian language.

To make an appointment, please call

(810) 559-1950

during normal business hours.



III



24777 Greenfield Road
Southfield, Michigan 48075
(810) 559-1950

5 I,

Ina!

THE CLUB

broaden Their Horizons

An Adult Day Program

We cater to Adults whose Horizons have been reduced.

• meet and greet friends
• participate in purposeful recreational, educational and
cultural activities
• foster independence
• promote wellness
• improve quality of life
• provides respite for the caregiver
• enjoy nutritional Kosher food

The Club is located in the Blumberg Plaza, West Bloomfield/Jewish

Community Campus. (Next door to the Jewish Community Center)

Transportation is available.

For more information, please call Myrna Katz, the Adult Day
Program Director (810) 661-2999.

A new day is dawning at

the Club in the Plaza.

his week we begin reading
the second book of the
Torah, whose major theme
is the exodus of the Jewish
people from Egypt. Our rabbis
raise an interesting question re-
garding this exodus.
Our tradition maintains that
there exist 50 levels of impurity
— and that the Jews in Egypt had
descended to the 49th level. In
fact, many of the Jews there were
idol-worshippers.
A number of Midrashim ad-
dress this question. One Midrash
states that "in the merit of three
things our forefathers were re-
deemed from Egypt — that they
did not change their names, their
language and their clothes."
Another version adds that they
distanced themselves (literally
"fenced themselves away") from
immorality. Yet another Midrash
asserts that "in the merit of the
righteous women our forefathers
were redeemed from Egypt."
These statements obviously re-
quire further elucidation. Jews
had sunk to the depths of idola-
try and impurity, yet were
worthy of fantastic miracles be-
cause they hadn't changed their
names, language and style of
dress? What does it mean that
they distanced themselves from
immorality? And exactly what
was the role of the women in all
of this?
What is the significance of a
name? A name is an identity. In
the concentration camps, the ul-
timate symbol of the inmates' loss
of identity were the numbers
tattooed on their arms. They were
numbers; they had no names;
they were no longer people. We
also find that whenever members
of a minority seek to assimilate
within a dominant culture, when
they do not wish to "stand out" or
be "different," one of the first
things to go is their names.
When Jews came to America,
Chana and Yaakov Rabinowitz
very quickly became Anne and
Jack Robbins. Conversely, pride
in one's identity is usually re-
vealed by a name reflective of
one's heritage. Witness, for ex-
ample, the resurgence of African
and Muslim names in our society.
Over 200 years ago, Moses
Mendelson espoused the philos-
ophy "be a Jew at home and a
`mentch' on the street." Although
he personally was an observant
Jew, the denial of his heritage

Chaya Sarah Silberberg is a

Torah instructor at Bais
Chabad of West Bloomfield
and Bais Chaya Mushka High
School for Girls.

and the inherent self-hatred
within this message, ensured
that most of his grandchildren
were Christians. Jews in Egypt,
a despised and oppressed minor-
ity, nevertheless, kept their Jew-
ish names. They were perhaps
idolatrous and impure, but their
pride in their identity and their
determination to maintain it ul-
timately earned them their re-
demption.
`They did not change their lan-
guage." Each language is unique,
with expressions, idioms and nu-
ances that translate poorly if at
all into another tongue. This is
because a language mirrors the
culture, the beliefs, and the soul
of its speakers.
The Eskimo language pur-
portedly contains 23 different
words for snow. It would be in-
teresting to catalogue how many
expressions there are in English
for drunkenness. Biblical Egypt

Shabbat Shemot
Exodus 1:1- 6:1
Isaiah 27:6 - 28:13
29:22- 23.

was known as an immoral, deca-
dent society. Surely the language
they spoke was vulgar and
coarse. Hebrew, on the other
hand, is a language of refinement.
To this day, there are no "four-
letter words" in Hebrew; those
who speak Ivrit must borrow
their obscenities from other-
languages. (Indeed, the famous
commentator Ramban — Nach-
manides — contends that this is
why Hebrew is known as the
"holy tongue.")
Our forefathers in Egypt may
have been physically subjugated
and oppressed. However, rather
than ingratiate themselves to
their masters by emulating their
ways and adopting their values,
they chose to remain aloof from
the Egyptian ways of thought
and expression, and to speak
their own language.
"They did not change their
clothes." One's mode of dress is
also very much a means of self-
expression. Clothing can serve to
conceal ... or to reveal; to be at-
tractive ... or to be attracting. In
a society famed for its moral
turpitude, it is not difficult to
imagine what the fashions were.
Vulgar and indecent clothing
surely did not originate in Amer-
ica in the 1990s. But our ances-
tors chose to keep their modest

Cf.

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