Sweet Revenge by Rabbi Zell
As one who believes that it is difficult to restrain or even temper anger, I have always been one to dismiss the adage “revenge is sweet”. Until now. With the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht being observed this week, I believe that revenge, is very much in order, as we are summoned to recall a heinous event that would culminate in Hitler’s Final Solution, the Holocaust. Such revenge, must, however, be sweet revenge. Sweet revenge, I believe is the converse of tough love. Just as there are times where love must manifest itself in atypical ways to be effective, so too, are there times, when revenge must manifest itself in atypical ways to be effective. Kristallnacht, the precursor of the Holocaust, I believe, is one of those times.
As one who believes that any and all atonement falls woefully short for the way Germany left an ineradicable stain on humanity, as it attempted to cleanse this world of Jews, I maintain that it is time for Jews, particularly those whose family members were persecuted, and in six million cases murdered, to mount a campaign of sweet revenge against Germany. I believe that it is repugnant for any Jew, to go through life with a chip on one’s shoulder, as a response for a horrific time period in our people’s past, which began with the breaking of glass of synagogues, business, and homes. I believe that the time has come to remind Germans of this generation of the unforgivable, dastardly acts of previous generations.
The current pandemic notwithstanding, we are living in an age where any number of Jewish families in this country, elect to celebrate a Simcha, particularly a Bar Mitzvah, in Israel. In addition to celebrating in Israel, sweet revenge dictates that Jewish families, particularly families with a German past, where property and businesses were confiscated and family members were wiped out by the Third Reich, celebrate their Simchas in Germany as well. Let the descendants of Hitler’s War machine witness the success of the descendants of those whom Der Fuhrer and his loyal followers wished to eradicate from the face of this earth. Let the Aryans of today eat their hearts out! Let the joyous sounds of Jewish celebrations ring loud and clear. Let Das Deutsche Volk (the German people) see elegantly clad Jewish women walk out of luxury rental cars into elegant catering halls. Let Israeli music blast through the air, far louder than Deutschland Uber Alles was ever played. And let the aroma of kosher food assail the nostrils of the sauerkraut, blutwurst crowd. Let modern day ostentatious Jewish Simchas in Berlin, Dusseldorf, Munich, and other German cities, serve as a reminder to the grandchildren of those who served in the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe, that German superiority which shattered the air in November 1938 is being drowned less than a century later, by the sounds of Jews celebrating and reveling. Reminding Germans that Kristallnacht was not what it was cracked up to be, is sweet revenge.
As one who has participated in kosher escorted tours of Vienna, Prague, and Budapest, Scotland, and Ireland as well as Italy, I would very much welcome a kosher escorted tour to Germany. There are any number of sites of Jewish interest, such as Heiliger Sand, Europe’s oldest Jewish cemetery in the city of Worms, and the Neue Synagoge in Berlin that are well worth the trip. There is however a caveat. The kosher escorted tour must be first-class in every way. Let American Jews travel through Germany on luxurious motor coaches, preferably with large signs in German on the sides of the vehicles welcoming their Jewish guests. Eight decades ago, the Omas and Opas of today’s generation lamely protested “We saw nothing”. Now it is time for their grandchildren to stand wide-eyed in amazement, as luxurious motor coaches roll through the streets of Munich en route to Dachau. Better yet, let them also hear the Partisan Song or similar Yiddish music of the Holocaust blare through the loudspeakers of the luxurious motor coach, as it makes its way to the Todes Lager or Extermination Camp. I have every confidence in the world, that the Germans will comprehend the Yiddish lyrics. Let Kosher escorted luxury tours break all record for tourism, as our response to the broken glass of Kristallnacht. The Third Reich failed dismally. Let us show them that hose with whom they were so obsessed, succeeded admirably. Let das Deutsche volk (the German people) know that we Jews have “arrived”. That’s sweet revenge.
Rav Archa Karchinaah (Talmud: Berachot 33a) points out, that “revenge” (Psalm 94:1) appears between two different names of the Divine. In his opinion, revenge if properly executed can be extraordinary. I cannot help but feel, that the revered rabbinic sage would wholeheartedly agree with, and even endorse sweet revenge.