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Friday, May 13, 2011

Outdoing Chicago

Ever think about moving from "cursed Romania"* to the USA in 1874?

Have I got a Sefer for you!

The Sefer called טוב ארצות הברית goes through each of the states that existed at the time with a short description of each.  It also talks about the Jews of America at the time and other interesting facts.  It was pretty much a brochure to Jewish Europe to come live in America.  Of course, no one would write such a sefer nowadays - even for Jews who live in oppresive countries - since the place to be nowadays is Israel, but at the time, the US was the place to be for many.  The Gashmiut of America is really emphasized in the sefer. As for the Ruhniut - only a little - as America was a spiritual Midbar at the time. Anyways, being that I live in Chicago, I naturally turned to the part about Illinois.  Interesting are his words on the Great Chicago Fire:
בירח אוקטבר בשנת 1871 היתה שרפה גדולה
בעיר, שרפה אשר לא היתה כמוה בעולם זה מאות בשנים עד כי כמעט
כל העיר היתה לבית הדשן (עיין מאמרי על דבר שריפת טשיקגה במכ"ע
חבצלת שנה שניה גליון ח') אפס להשתוממות כל העולם כלו התנערה
מאפרה בזמן קצר כזה והיכלי מסחור וחרשת־המעשה יתנוססו בה מחדש
לגאון ולתפארת ובעבור עוד איזה שנים ותשכח טשיקגה את כל אסונה
הנורא אשר בא עליה  ותפרח מחרש ביפיה והדרה כבשנים קדמניות.

My loose translation:
In the month of October, 1871, there was a great fire in the city, a fire of which there was nothing like it in the world for hundreds of years until almost the entire city was turned to ashes.  However, to the astonishment of the entire world, it all was shaken from its ashes in a short period, and from commercial and industrial development, it was reenergized into something glorious.  And in the passage of a few short years, Chicago forgot all about its terrible tragedy that came upon it and it blossomed anew with its beauty and splendor as in the early years.
Isn't this exactly what the Jewish people are in the process of doing?  Are we not rebuilding ourselves from the ashes of the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, the ashes of the Holocaust and the dictatorial rulers of the other nations?  The past 65 years have been just that.  And the speed of it all in relation to how long we've been oppressed is nothing short of miraculous.  We don't need to live in Chicago circa 1874 to see this miracle.  We're living it right now.  Furthermore, Chicago was just one city.  We're an entire nation, scattered throughout the world.

However, despite the miraculous speed of our rebuilding, not all the ashes or dirt have been wiped off yet.  We still await the day when this passage of Lecha Dodi will be fulfilled:
התנערי מעפר קומי לבשי בגדי תפארתך עמי על יד בן ישי בית הלחמי קרבה אל נפשי גאלה

* "cursed Romania" is the author's wording translated


At Sun May 15, 03:26:00 PM 2011, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Wow, very cool.


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