If you like rocking the boat, here’s a parlor game you might enjoy. Amongst a group of good friends, bring up the interpretation of major events of the 20th century that you learned about in Yeshiva. Let’s pick the big ones, WWII and the 1960’s cultural revolution.
The Holocaust happened because people were going off the derech, because of the Haskalah. (This is a pretty mainstream interpretation, so it’s a pretty safe bet that if you say it out loud, most people will agree.) You might get an, “It’s so obvious, just connect the dots.”
First, point out the most obvious question. “Why were most of the victims Frum? After all, Poland was hit first, and the Jews there were nearly completely destroyed.”
“Well, Tzaddikim are hit first to atone for everyone else.”
“Yeah, but most of the victims were Tzaddikim. That doesn’t fit well with the theory. Who were the ones doing the Averos that were actually atoned for and saved? Tzaddikim usually atone for more people than themselves. But they were hit hardest.”
“We don’t know what Hashem’s ways are. Maybe there was a gezeirah against everyone else.”
“Weak! Sounds more like you already have a preconceived idea, and are using the Holocaust to back you up. That’s low, even for a self-righteous putz like you.”
“Yeah? Well how about you? I know you don’t give a damn about this, and are just having this argument with me to show me how smart you think you are. When are you going to grow up?”
“Not true. Someone on the internet told me to do it. Now answer the question. Getting your coat, and walking out? So you can’t, eh? Baby! Let me tell my reason! Wait up!
“Get back in your house. There’s something wrong with you.”
“Don’t drive off like that! Did you know that- ”
OK, if you’re still following the plan, that’s a weight off my chest, at the cost of just one of your friends. Now for the next stage: the Rabbi.
“Ah, R’ Yankel, sit down, have some cholent.”
“We’re having guests, I can’t really stay.”
“Oh, come on. Have a L’Chaim at least.”
“Oh, alright. Ooh, Canadian Club. The shul must have gotten some membership checks in. Ahh, that’s nice. Ok, Rav, I have a question. You know how you always mention that the 60’s were supposedly this horrible time where all ‘Judeo-Christian’ values were overthrown, and people stopped wearing hats, and the birds in San Francisco started turning gay?”
“Haha! Not exactly, but close enou- ”
“Well then, how come before the 60’s, Judaism was dying out in America? Everyone was trying to be like the perfect American, moderately Christian, white family. But afterwards, when all the old-time racist, competitive, warring values were rejected, and people needed something new to believe in, many Jews started taking pride in being Jewish! The 60’s probably saved Judaism! Maybe we should start being open to new ideas.”
“Hmm. That’s very interesting to think abo- ”
“And dogmatic ideas like ‘Anything new is forbidden by the Torah’, causes societies to stagnate, and inhibits the natural growth of human civilization. Maybe that’s why the frum community is stuck in an old-time mindset and has so many psychological problems.”
“Wow. That really is a lot to take in. Why’s all this on your mind? Is something bothering you, or do you just want to show me how smart you are?”
“Mostly the second one. Oh- Plus, I’m running to Mexico with my cleaning lady. Hey, 12:00. Gotta run. Thanks for the booze!”