Rav Avigdor Miller on The Wickedness of Slavery



Someone told me that you said that slavery wasn’t wicked?


I didn’t say that it wasn’t a wickedness to enslave people. I said that the literature about slavery is often exaggerated – it’s not the full picture. They paint a picture of the world that comes out of their minds.  They don’t paint the world as it is. In general, literature give you a picture that’s different than reality.

Harriet Beecher Stowe – she’s famous for writing that big book called Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Uncle Tom’s Cabin caused the civil war in America. It inflamed the minds against slavery. It depicted the slaves as suffering terribly and there were masters who whipped and beat them; every kind of wickedness was performed by the white man on the poor black. And therefore, it caused a wave of anger against slavery and that’s why the Civil War took place and slavery was abolished then.

But you must know, that book is full of lies from the beginning to the end.  You might not believe me.  I’m telling you – the slaves were happier in their slave cabins than the blacks are in Harlem in the ghettos where they live.  All the slaves were married.  All the slaves had parnassa.  All the slaves ate. All the slaves were cared for when they were ill.  Nobody was homeless.  You couldn’t have run away boys and girls in the slave colonies. They worked.  Work is not a bad thing.

You know what they did in Africa?  Before they were brought to America, the Blacks in Africa were busy warring with each other.  That was the main business of the black tribes – killing each other.  And when they captured victims, they roasted them and they ate them.  The cannibals lived in constant fear of their neighbors who wanted to eat them.  There was no peace in Africa. Every tribe was at war with another tribe.

So when they were taken to America as slaves, they became civilized and they were taught to believe in a Borei. You know they read the Bible?  The slaves in the cabin read the Bible. The old slave songs were full of emunah!  Of course it was avodah zara mixed in, Christianity, but they were full of emunah!

And they used to hit their children for immorality.  The slaves hit their slave children for immorality.  And they taught them decency. They became civilized.

Of course always there is some cruelty in the world. Were some slavemasters cruel? Of course. But isn’t there cruelty today? Even in Harlem, doesn’t a black father sometimes hurt or maim a child?  Certainly there is cruelty in the world. Nobody condones that. But the literature is filled with propaganda.

TAPE # 606 (August 1986)