Updated: May 27
Article from: Alon HaKokodesh (8) Yom Kippur Edition
“…if there’s no neshama, then what are the flowers for. If there is one, then what can the flowers do for it?” Rav Yaakov Galinsky zt’l
While small in physical stature, HaRav Yaakov Galinsky was a Torah giant with a fiery neshama bigger than this world. Known to speak fiery Mussar to warm up the neshamot of his fellows even during the deathly cold of Siberian prison, Rav Galinsky yearned for opportunities to do Zikkuy HaRabim in any corner of the world. When a wealthy family invited him to speak at the funeral of their father, Rav Galinsky saw it as another opportunity to bring more Torah light to the world, while hopefully raising money for his Yeshiva. The original plan to mourn and cheer up the family changed once he saw that the glamorous flowers were even more modest than many of the family members—secularism has captured this family too. “I was asked to come speak on behalf of the family, but I am here to speak on behalf of the dead father” said Rav Galinsky. “If there’s no neshama, then what are the flowers for? If there is one [neshama], then what can the flowers do for it?” These were the shocking words that started a short speech full of hard Mussar that surprised everyone into deafening silence. Although the Rav did not get a penny of the promised donation to his yeshiva, he was happy to accept another invitation by the now more modest family for the yahrzeit of their father the following year.
Baruch HaShem this Rosh HaShanah was an amazing day for many Jews, but full of emptiness for even more of our brothers and sisters. If you attended the typical synagogue in America, Europe or elsewhere, then you saw many faces during this holiday that you don't see in shul during the rest of the year. While many in the Orthodox world have recently focused much of their efforts and resources on building more glamorous synagogues and Jewish centers, very little is being invested into making Jews more Jewish. It seems like there’s daily Jewish news of more places being opened or expanded, yet no one seems to mind that there’s barely 10% of capacity attending actual Torah lectures in most places. Ironically many places have surplus funding, but are short on adult students.
Although the heretical Reform and Conservative movements did not do Am Yisrael any favors, the most dangerous disease the Jewish world has ever known remains Secularism. In a recent short video clip we discussed the scary outcome of the four generational research by PEW Research. For anyone in the Jewish world that doesn’t think this affects them directly, I am hoping this video will wake you up too. While the leadership in past generations had success distinguishing themselves from the nations, today’s secularism has succeeded even in infecting the religious Orthodox world as much as the rest. Aside from those who’ve announced their change of heart, there are many complete off the derech teenagers and adults that still look and act as religious as ever. Although we can write a book about the details, there’s really only two questions that matter—why are more Jewish people secular, and how do we save them?
Don’t Know or Don’t Believe
The sad reality is that while secularism is much more dangerous than people think, its medicine can have higher success ratios than other diseases, provided the right plan. Unlike what most religious people think, secular people are not “choosing” to be secular, but rather are being enabled. To be more specific, there are 2 symptoms found in the overwhelming majority of secular Jews—ignorance and lack of belief (partial atheism).
Simply put, most people today know little to nothing meaningful about the Torah and HaShem’s commandments. At least not enough to change their lives. They may be geniuses in secular and professional knowledge, but their knowledge of Torah is superficial at best. The names of a few “characters,” and some other partially truthful lies they saw in a movie, a heretical book, or heard in a conversation is what they base their eternal decisions on. If you ask a secular Jew what the punishment for violating Shabbat is, they will never know the full details. They may have heard of the death penalty for Shabbat desecrators, but firmly believe it’s not relevant to today’s world. This is why you see many of them even driving to the Orthodox shul on Shabbat without a single concern (or rebuke). In fact, many religious people don’t know this critical information either. How could they know if it’s not being taught in the majority of the English speaking world?
Aside from the fact that learning about punishments is part of implementing the Rambam’s 13 Principals of Faith, it’s the only way someone could make a truly knowledgeable decision. Just like one wouldn’t normally decide to purchase a new car solely based on its shape and color, the discovery of price changes everything. One may love the shape and color of the car, and be too ignorant to care about the engine, but the price is something everyone can understand. Your opinion of the car becomes irrelevant once you realize it’s 10 times what you can afford. Even more so with understanding the price of observing or violating the Torah. You may or may not like to eat kosher food, and be too ignorant to realize that Shabbat is better than any vacation you can afford. But if you knew that violating Shabbat intentionally is putting a Jew in the category of an idol worshiping Non-Jew with endless punishments in this world and the next, it would make anyone normal reconsider. If such information doesn’t lead to a change, its either because they are crazy or simply don’t believe it.
Lack of Belief (Partial Atheism)
Enough secular propaganda can make anyone crazy enough to [say they] believe that their grandfather is a monkey that’s a decedent of the tape worm, and a distant cousin of the Amoeba parasitic crime family (that may have had a famous doctor in the family). Humor aside, it is very simple to say you believe in nothing (aka atheism), since its releases your conscience from the obligations connected to the belief in HaShem. If one is truly looking for the truth, then there is an enormous amount of published work that shows extraordinary scientific proofs of the Torah and its divinity. No amount of proof can help one who’s looking for excuses to justify their preexisting behavior and atheistic beliefs.
BeEzrat HaShem Inc. has published over 10 videos and high quality short films by Rabbi Efraim Kachlon and I in English, Hebrew, and subtitles in other languages, showing extraordinary scientific proofs of the Written and Oral Torah. This also compliments the monumental 4 hour film Torah and Science by Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, as well as the amazing work by Rabbi Zamir Cohen, Professor Haim Shore, and many other experts in the field of Torah and Science. Any intellectually honest person looking for the truth can easily find it with a bit of effort. Once a person sees the proofs, they will immediately understand that the price of remaining secular is unaffordable.
Yom Kippur is the prime opportunity to fulfill the obligation of “You shall be holy because I am Holy…” (Leviticus 19:2). The same Parashat Kedoshim shows us the way to sanctify ourselves with a few opportune mitzvoth this Yom Kippur:
“…you shall not stand aside while your fellow’s blood is shed, I am HaShem.”
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart…”
“you shall rebuke your fellow and do not bear sin because of him.”
“you shall love your fellow as yourself”
All of us have failed our secular brothers and sisters, standing over their blood by not rebuking them back into the beautiful life of Torah and mitzvoth observance. By showing them the expensive price of secularism, we are showing them the brotherly love that will save their family’s eternity.
The whole point of the fast and prayers is in order to encourage us to fulfill the biblical mitzvah of doing Teshuva on Yom Kippur. HaRav Nissim Yagen zt’l once said “If a person fasts but does not examine his deeds (i.e. perform Teshuva), then he has not fulfilled his obligation to fast!” Whether we are the secular ones or know a few of them, Teshuva is required from all of us on this Yom Kippur. You're going to see new faces in shul that you may not see for another year. Will you say something to save your brother or sister? Watch this video and find out some ideas of what you should say. May HaShem bless all of us with the merit to do a full Teshuva this Yom Kippur.
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 Spreading the Torah to the public (e.g. Kiruv)
 i.e. how would you know about the significant principal of Reward & Punishment if you don’t know what the punishment is?
 Rambam Hilchot Shabbat 30:15 “…a person who violates Shabbat is considered an idolater…”
 Reshiet Chochma Masechet Gehinom, Rosh HaShana 17a, Sanhedrin Perek Chelek, Exodus (31:14), Baal Shem Tov comm. Exodus (35:3)
 Leviticus (19:16-18)
 Mishna Berurah (549:1)
 Netivei Ohr pg. 115