- Benefiting from Nazi Products
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- (This dialogue follows my response that one should not listen to
Wagner's musical compositions since he was a known Nazi...)
- Reader: I do not understand this . . . Would you also not
speak German because the Nazi's spoke it? "Their close
- Mesora: Language preceded
Nazism, hence, it is not a product of Nazism. Music and cars are
products of a nation which harbors feelings of anti-Semitism.
Therefore it is quite different, and appropriate to demonstrate
disdain for such a culture through boycotting. We must not assist in
the financial growth of the wicked.
- Reader: What kind of an argument is that? Does that mean that
you would not have anything to do with a German person because of the
fact that they are Germans? Why should you? the Nazis were German and
the German people are "their close proximity!" How do you
answer to this?
- Mesora: A German person has free
will and is not a reflection of his parents. The "product"
definition does not apply here. He can decide to be good. But an
inanimate object as music and autos can only reflect their maker. Use
of such objects is then an endorsement of the maker and promulgates
his corrupt ideas.
- Reader: Secondly, let me give you a hypothetical, let's say
that I live and eventually die listening to the music of Wagner
without ever knowing that he was a neo-Nazi; would it be
"philosophically wrong" then?
- Mesora: No it would not. You
would be ignorant in this case.
- Reader: I guess what my original letter intended was if I'm
breaking some halacha by listening to Wagner being fully aware that he
was a neo-Nazi?
- Mesora: Like I said, it is
philosophically wrong to adore the work of a Nazi. We cannot even
adore a gentile according to halacha.
- Reader: My other question is, do you think that the music he
wrote was filled with the thought of "hate the Jews?"
- Mesora: I don't know, but it is
- Reader: I'm not sure how to phrase it, but is his art
inherently connected to his dislike of Jews?
- Mesora: Again, admiration for
his works is admiration for an extension of a Nazi. We cannot have
admiration for any aspect of that which is connected to Nazism.