Overhead on Shabbat by a Baal Teshuvah mother of 7, who raised her kids as Yeshivish.
“Every time you bentch, an antisemite dies”
The source seems to be the phrase from 1996, that took off 2003 with the internet. The phrase is now used in every way “every time you vote for the wrong candidate, a kitten dies.”
It may also go back to the line from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life “”Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”
But what interested me was its use as an explanation for the observance of commandments. Benching does not remind one of God, it does not do a tikkun, or show gratitude for the food. Benching fights the evil in the world. Is fighting antisemitism our new cosmology?
A friend of mine told me of how Rav Reichman told his shabbas table one week appropriating our enemies niggunim to gain power over them. He then proceeded to describe how Rav Reichman soundedsinging every Sphardi tune he knew. I guess this strain of cosmology is old.
In the case of the niggun, one is appropriating something that is not a mitzvah. Here the mitzvah has a new reason.
Rav Reichman in this case follows the Chabad practice. Eighteenth century Chabad saw Napoleon as a danger, therefore they appropriated the French tunes like La Marseillaise.
But even in the case of the melodies – is the reason to appropriate the tune in order to raise hidden sparks in the evil, or to fight the evil?
And how did the reasoning of the appropriation change?
In this case the formulation of “Every time one does x, an x dies” is not the same as the traditional “gaining power over.”
It fits into the secular Jewish cosmology where the Holocaust is the center and everything is does as a memory for or to fight against the next Holocaust.
What we have here is creating a metaphysical extention to a social/political framework.
I thought, (perhaps mistakenly) that Lubavitch saw Napoleon as a liberator from the Russian tyrant.