Off With The Masks

Tzvi Fishman

In a state of what can be called Diaspora dementia, Jews always fool themselves into thinking they belong to the societies in which they live.

The Arab terrorists succeeded in stripping the masks off of the frightened faces of the Jews in Belgium. Purim celebrations have been canceled and Rabbis have told congregants not to wear masks.

It’s sad that this is the way someone finally succeeded in stripping the masks off the faces of all the Jews in the Diaspora, who have been wearing masks for nearly two thousand years, dressing up as Belgians, and Germans, and Russians, and Frenchmen, and as good Americans, loyal citizens who want to be like everyone else, pretending to belong to foreign lands and foreign identities – yes, living a 2000 year masquerade.

This Diaspora charade has been going on throughout history, ever since we were ousted from our homeland by the Romans. But in every generation, in one foreign land or the next, the gentiles always eventually remind us that we aren’t Spaniards, or Yemenites, or citizens of the Reich like everyone else.

In every generation, Hashem raises up a new Haman to strip off our masks and to remind us that we are the Children of Israel – just like Haman stripped off the masks of the Jews of Shushan, who wanted so hard to assimilate and be Persians like everyone else, just like the Jews of Belgium want to be Belgian, and like the Jews of Germany and Russia wanted to be Germans and Russians.

How we love our masks! How we love our foreign costumes and countries! How we grovel on our hands and knees, like the leader of AIPAC, who bowed down so pathetically to America’s Achashveros, in order to prove that she and the Jews of America are Americans like everyone else.

But we’re not. Nowhere in the Torah will you find the word American, or German, or Canadian, or South African. We are Children of Israel who have been expelled from our Land. Israeli refugees. The foreign passports and citizenships are all phony costumes, no different from the clown costumes and Batman costumes that children like to wear.

For the last nearly 2000 years, the Jews of the Diaspora have been living an ongoing masquerade. For the Jews of the Diaspora, it’s been Purim every day, dressing up in foreign fashions, speaking foreign tongues, eating foreign food, identifying with foreign nations and cultures, in order to pass themselves off as good Frenchmen, and Englishmen, and baseball lovers like everyone else around them.

But it is all a charade. The Arabs have stripped off the masks and exposed Diaspora Jews for what they are – foreigners!

Gevalt! they cry. What will we do? We’ll have no choice but to go to Israel! Oy vay iz mir! Jewish tears stream down the cheeks of Jews all over the diaspora, spoiling their make-up, turning their masks into mud.

My friends, it is time to realize that the exile is one giant mask. Jewish life in the Diaspora is make believe. It isn’t the real thing at all. For nearly 2000 years, we didn’t have a choice. We couldn’t go home to our own Jewish Land. We couldn’t return to the true place where the Torah is meant to be kept. So we had no choice but to dress up as Spaniards and Germans and loyal Americans, and live a masquerade in order to get along with the goyim.

Tragically, as years dragged by, and as our memories of Zion faded, we became like the Jews of Shushan, who wanted to be Persians like everyone else, enjoying the wine and women of the royal harem. As years went by, a national Alzheimer’s seized our psyches, and in our state of Diaspora dementia, we began to believe that our costumes were real. Along with forgetting Zion, we forgot that we were living a make-believe charade.

You don’t believe me? Ask ten Jews in America what their identity is, and at least eight will say, “I’m an American.” How we love our masks! How hard it is to throw them away!

How sad the Jews are in Belgium this Purim because they can’t wear their masks. Because they are going to have to give up the masquerade ball of exile and come home to the Land of Israel where they really belong, where they are loved and welcome as Jews, but where it is hard to make a living, and where you have to serve in the army, and where bureaucracy rules….need I say more?

Still, I’m happy that the masks are falling. I’m happy that the Jews of the Diaspora are finally getting the message. In Israel, we are going to have a great Purim!

Leave a Comment