First, I would like to thank Matt Drudge for helping promote the “latest teen rage in Florida” news story to thousands more viewers. May you merit to promote much more light and truth in the future in health and happiness.
Responding with Education
As stated by the rabbis in the video clip, the take home lesson from the story is that we need to step up our activities to educate. If the Holocaust was “trivialized,” as one of the rabbis said, then we need redouble our efforts to reveal the light of truth. As a little light dispels a great amount of darkness, so too, while the original story may have made “trivial” something most serious, we should view these events as a call to action to increase acts of goodness.
There are many good responses to dark stories such as these. The first is to hold education workshops and events to educate teenagers (and others) about how real and serious the Holocaust was. Bringing testimonies from survivors, film footage, and other educational material is useful to this approach. But I would like to now suggest a second approach to supplement the first.
Diamonds in the Rough
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of antisemitism in the world. But rarely does an antisemitic social media post “go viral” such as this one. As explained in previous articles, according to Jewish thought, the reason why stories go viral is because of some buried point of truth. It is this spark that first attracted the public to the story to begin with. Like a diamond in the rough, the challenge is to isolate and extract that shimmering spark from amidst the coal.
Our first exercise then is to isolate the “diamond” from the story. Once redeemed and removed from exile among its dark environs, then the “game” will immediately lose its luster and attraction. Like a shadow, once the light is turned on, the darkness disappears.
The light exiled within the “game” is the mention of the Jewish people in general, and in particular, the exalted soul of Anne Frank. In the “game,” it was deemed unfair that Anne’s cup be able to hide away from the pursuers. Therefore, there are two fundamental holy concepts being presented within a dark setting. The first is that Anne Frank was chosen as the representative “hider” of the Jewish people. And the second is that “hiding” was deemed “too powerful.”
Knowing the Facts
Before moving forward with our “second” approach, it is imperative that students first know the actual story of Anne Frank’s life as well as details about the Holocaust. But as Anne Frank’s diary is required reading in many high schools, our suggestion is primarily to provide a supplement to that initial reading and classroom discussion about the Holocaust.
Specifically, our campaign at present is to promote the light that has been unjustly exiled with this “game.” To respond to the recent events by holding events of our own (even assemblies in school auditoriums) to explain in-depth who Anne Frank was, and why “hiding” is indeed such a powerful thing.
An Exalted Soul
What is now presented in brief is explained at length in Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh’s essay “Dear Anne Frank…” Anyone seeking to publicly respond to these events, by promoting the light of truth, is encouraged to carefully read through that essay. But in short, let’s discuss some key points explained there.
The primary contention behind the game is that it has trivialized, even fictionalized, the Holocaust into a mode of entertainment. Since it is specifically Anne Frank that has been fictionalized into the “game,” this then is the first tikkun (spiritual correction) we can make. To quote from the article:
“When people claim that you don’t exist or that what you are saying is unreliable without supporting their claim with clear evidence, that is a sign of your greatness.”
As explained there in relation to the original doubts over the authenticity of the Anne Frank diary, since the evidence as to the real author was well established, these doubts were only a further sign of her greatness.
Power of Hiding
The second thing that we said needs to be explained is the power of hiding. In the “game” it was deemed too powerful to be able to hide, so an additional rule was added.
There is a lot that a Jewish educator can speak about in relation to hiding. The suggestion is to begin by speaking about the hidden nature of the diary itself. To quote:
“The transition from writing one’s most intimate thoughts to publishing them publicly can be understood more profoundly in light of a baffling statement made by the sages in the Talmud. The sages state that God has “outer chambers” and “inner chambers.” In God’s outer chambers, they explain, He demonstrates His joy, as described in the verse, “might and joy are in His place,” while, in His inner chambers, we find that, “In secrecy, My soul weeps.” God weeps in secret over the exile and torment of the Jewish people. Similarly, the ultimate purpose of publishing intimate and private thoughts, written in a state of tears, is to turn them into a source of empowerment and joy, touching the hearts of many in a way that will strengthen and elevates them, (just as God’s secret tears will eventually be revealed to bring us comfort.)”
When Two Become One
Before we said, there were two approaches. Traditional Holocaust education, and the second approach we are now presenting. But as a result of reading the above paragraph we begin to appreciate that we are not speaking of two approaches at all.
Definitely a great deal of weeping comes to a sensitive reader who reads Anne Frank’s diary, and other depictions about the Holocaust. But whereas God also weeps in secret over the exile and torment of the Jewish people, our second approach is to appreciate the great joy and light that this lofty soul brought to the world. Like the hidden-revealed nature of her diary itself, the story of Anne Frank is a lesson in both the power of hidden tears and revealed joy.
This is our final thought. That from the great power of hiding in tears – the inner reason why Anne Frank’s ability to hide was deemed “too powerful” – the collective Redemptive of the Jewish people in joy results. Although Anne didn’t live to see the publication of her diary, as we see from the many people all over the world that continue to write Anne Frank letters, she is still here among us, inspiring us to think and feel; helping to redirect our personal tears and pain while in exile to the collective joy that will be experienced with the coming of Mashiach.
We pray that he come soon.
The link to the Rabbi Ginsburgh article once more is here.
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About the Author: Yonatan Gordon has spent most of his past 13 professional years in the world of Jewish publishing. He was the Marketing Manager at Kehot Publication Society (publishing arm of Chabad) for the better part of six years. He is founder of the website Community of Readers.
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