“Vayehi Shom L’goy” and He Became There a Nation

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As we surely know, one of the reasons that we merited to be taken out of Egypt was because we didn’t change our dress, language and names. Yet one wonders why these things are so important? What difference does it make if we change our names, language or dress? Who cares about outward appearances? As long as we act like Jews should act, what difference does it make what language we speak, by which name we are called or how we dress? The Torah does not put any restrictions on what language we must speak. What is so important about a Jewish dress code?

I’ve been asked many times: Why one shouldn’t sing or play goyishe music? While surely everyone agrees that songs that have filthy lyrics are forbidden, one wonders why one can’t just sing the song without the words or sing those songs that have clean lyrics or no lyrics at all?

Years ago cigarette companies used to give out free cigarettes. They knew quite well that once people take just a few puffs, they’d get hooked and soon become addicted. Many people started smoking because of the few cigarettes they puffed on Purim.

The Yetzer Hora is very clever. He begins by inviting us into his house and offering to serve us only kosher food with the best hashgocha. After we become best of friends, the menu along with the hashgacha slowly change. The products are different. Soon we start eating foods that the Torah forbids.

We start by listening only to the fine clean so called “kosher music.” Once we are hooked on it , we’ll find ourselves listening to other songs containing more vulgar words with horrid themes.

This may be why the Torah warns us “U’bechukosayhem lo seileichu” Imitating the goyim even if they have the most beautiful styles has a great influence on us. It may not be noticeable at first. A very slow process begins. It all starts with a very small change, but it’s like a leaking roof. It starts with only a few drops of water coming through but eventually the entire roof caves in. First it’s just the hair. Then it’s the pants, followed by the shirt. Slowly one looks just like a goy. Of course it is only externally; internally we believe we are still the same. Yet after a while it begins to penetrate, and one’s thoughts become different. Ones values change. Outer appearances reflect inside changes!

Most movements such as the Conservative and Reform started with very small changes. All they did was move the “bima” from the center of the shul to the front, or make a few small changes in our prayers. Yet once one makes a wrong turn and strays from the beaten path, he will soon find himself hundreds of miles away.

While we all enjoy the great freedom in this country, many of our brethren have become completely assimilated and one cannot even recognize that they are Jews. They speak, dress and go by their goyishe names. We are experiencing a spiritual holocaust of enormous dimensions.

Had they at least kept their names, clothing and language, it would have made it much easier to reach out to them.