Proud of One’s Jewish Heritage

When a lie is repeated often in public and with a sense of pride, conviction, and confidence, people begin to accept that lie as a truth. The Kalever Rebbe explains how a hedonistic culture successfully uses this strategy to erode Jewish values.

4 min

Kalever Rebbe

Posted on 02.06.24

“You will flee, but no one will be pursuing you.” (Vayikra 26:17) 


The Modernization of Morality 

There are many organizations that focus solely on imposing and proliferating their extreme liberal views on society. 

They justify their hedonistic behavior by claiming that humans are born with these tendencies, and nothing can be done to change that reality. Therefore, they encourage people to indulge in these behaviors in public, slowly eroding their sense of shame and modesty. 

Throughout history, the most proper and refined cultures have always created certain societal boundaries. As Chazal taught (Chulin 92b), the Bnei Noach are rewarded for not behaving shamefully in public. 

However, over the last fifty years or so, those social boundaries have been replaced with a new opinion that espouses and celebrates a culture of self-indulgence. This philosophy encourages people to pursue all their primal, impure desires publicly, with pride and haughtiness, to disregard any sense of shame, since they claim that these are natural desires and instincts a person is born with, and he can’t overcome it. 

However, this is fundamentally untrue. Hashem created a person with the power of choice that enables a person to be able to overcome these desires and tendencies. Choice is empowering, and every person can choose to behave properly. Therefore, the Torah commands people and Bnei Noach to adhere to the prohibitions of illicit relationships, and other mitzvot

And this is even more relevant to the Jewish people. Every yid has a holy neshama and a specific, individual assistance from the Heavens. As Chazal taught (Yuma 38b), when a Jew begins to purify himself, he receives Divine Assistance. 


Character Through Choice 

There is a well-known story quoted, among other sources, in the Or Pnei Moshe (Parshas Chukas)

There was a king who was able to gaze at one’s face and understand everything about their personality traits. Curious, he wanted to see Moshe Rabbeinu and he travelled out to the desert to look at the leader of the Jewish people. 

When he saw him, he immediately saw that Moshe Rabbeinu’s face indicated that he had disgraceful and wicked attributes. Puzzled, the king asked Moshe Rabbeinu: how can you have all of these impure traits?! 

Moshe Rabbeinu explained to this king, that he was indeed born with these attributes and character flaws. However, he had transformed them from liabilities to assets, from impure to pure, from evil to good. 

I have seen this myself. When people – men, women and children – come to me for a bracha or chizuk, I always ask them to commit to observing a specific mitzvah. Many times, I ask young people and teenagers to accept certain safeguards in the realm of holiness, to change their behaviors and to keep certain mitzvot. At first, they would argue that they simply cannot do that. It is too difficult for them. However, after I had explained to them that they have the power to control their behavior and that change was not only possible but critical, they would agree and commit to whichever mitzvah we were discussing. And, through adhering to that commitment they were able to see that they have the strength to overcome their natural instincts and desires. They merited to have a happy life and establish observant and holy Jewish households built on faith. 


A Lie Becomes a Truth 

When a lie is repeated often in public with a sense of pride, conviction and confidence, people begin accepting that lie as a truth. This is one strategy that various groups and organizations use nowadays. 

They claim that these liberal views that champion a hedonistic culture that is void of any sense of shame, are in the best interest of the entire society. However, this is just a lie that has been repeated time and time again. The truth is that these impure desires can only harm people and their well-being. 

The yidden’s behavior and culture is dictated by the holy Torah that Hashem gave us and not society’s cultural trends. Our hearts and other bodily limbs are ruled by our minds. We follow the path of our Jewish heritage that our fathers have traveled on for thousands of years. We do not pursue the desires that only distance us from man’s true purpose in this world. 


We Are the Proof 

These progressive movements mock and try to degrade the Torah-observant community. When they see yidden living happy and fulfilling lives despite adhering to an ancient tradition, it contradicts their viewpoint that you need to modernize and adapt to be happy. Torah-observant Jews are a living contradiction to these progressive philosophies. It threatens everything they are trying to do in society. 

This is the reason that there is a current movement to attack our Jewish schools. There are individuals and organizations that are desperately trying to impose their curriculum in our schools. They want to force our children to be educated in a way that is aligned with their beliefs. 

It is imperative that we constantly remind ourselves of the true reality, as Chazal (Succah 52b) teach us, that if one starves his desires he will be satiated, and if he satiates those desires, he will always be starving. When a person tries to satisfy his lustful desires, it sparks a hunger for more indulgence that can never be satisfied. On the other hand, when a person overcomes that temptation, he will feel satiated and merit a happy and fulfilling life. 

This is alluded to in this week’s Parsha’s Tochocha. The Zohar taught that each of these curses are actually brachot. Therefore, while on the surface our pasuk seems like a curse, there is a hidden bracha. 

Hashem promised the Jewish people, that during the era before Mashiach’s arrival: “I will place my countenance in you”. Hashem will provide us with the Light that is before Hashem, which is the Torah, which teaches us the proper way to live our lives. As we say during davening: For by the light of Your countenance You gave us the Torah of life… And this will be a tremendous stumbling block before our greatest enemies and detractors – which are the Yetzer Harah and these progressive movements that try to proliferate a lifestyle of impurity – as the pasuk continues: “you will be a smite for your enemies”… 

The pasuk continues: “Your enemies will rule over you; you will flee”…. They will try to impose their philosophies on you. But you will flee from their influence. As it says in Pirkei Avot (Chapter IV, Mishna II), you should flee from sin. 

And then, in the end, Hashem promises that “no one will be pursuing you”… Your Yetzer Harah and drive for lustful desires will not chase after you. And you and your family will merit a happy and fulfilled life. 


The Kalever Rebbe is the seventh Rebbe of the Kaalov Chasidic dynasty, begun by his ancestor who was born to his previously childless parents after receiving a blessing from the Baal Shem Tov zy”a, and later learned under the Maggid of Mezeritch zt”l. The Rebbe has been involved in outreach for more than 30 years and writes weekly emails on understanding current issues through the Torah. Sign up at   

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