What is my opinion of the story of Masada? How important is it what happened there?
The story of Masada is immensely unimportant. It’s been brought up to ridiculous proportions by those people who make an ideal of fighting to the death. We don’t believe in fighting to the death. No. We believe like the Chinese say, “The best hero is the one who survives.” If you know how to run away, you’re a real hero. Just to stand around until you’re finally knocked down, it’s not heroism.
And therefore, what is it worth the story in Masada? People were stubborn; and these people in Masada deserved what they got. They didn’t obey the Sages. The Sages said, “Make peace with Rome. We want the Jews to live, not to die heroic deaths.”
To die a death of a hero, it doesn’t pay. Who are you dying for? Just to spite the Romans?! Live and you’ll have descendants and the Jews will finally conquer their enemies. That’s the truth because we are today walking on the ruins of those nations. We are walking on the graves, on the buried palaces, of those nations. So why should Jews let themselves be killed for nothing?
So when the Romans finally conquered Yerushalayim and burned the Beis Hamikdosh, the Sages said, “Don’t resist. Make peace with Rome.” But the Baryonim, these fellows had a clenched fist and they said, “רק כך! This is the way you have to do it! Only with force!” And so they got killed. They didn’t go to Gan Eden for getting killed. I don’t think they went to Gehenom either because all Jews in those days believed in Hashem; only that they sinned. They sinned grievously by disobeying. It’s a pity to get killed for nothing.
And after it was all over, so some of them went to fortresses to continue the fight. Massada was one of the fortresses and they held out against Rome. Now Rome wasn’t interested in anything except that the Jews should lay down their arms. Lay down your arms. Make peace. You could negotiate with Rome too. But to get killed for nothing, just as a symbol of truculence, a symbol that you’re fighting to the last man? No, we don’t believe that. We don’t believe in that kind of heroism.
We believe in following the Sages and remaining alive. We say, “Jews, live!” “Jews, get married!” “Jews, have children!” And you’ll see yet that your children are going to be the best revenge you could ever get on your enemies.
Do you know what the real revenge is on Hitler? Not going and shooting Nazis. If you shoot Nazis today – it’s not a bad idea, by the way — OK, but that’s not the real revenge. The best thing is to get married, have children and send your children to yeshivas and Beis Yaakovs. Boro Park and Flatbush could be full of Jews walking in the streets with tzitzis hanging out. And that burns them up. That’s the way to take revenge on Hitler. Have a lot of Jewish children who fill the yeshivas and Jews go around with beards and Jews who study Torah. That’s our revenge!
And that’s what the Sages said. It’s a pity. It’s a tragedy when Jews are silly and follow gentile attitudes. It’s all gentile attitudes to die fighting. So you died fighting — what’s so good about it?
TAPE # 76