Buying German Products
I’ve heard the argument made that Jews should not buy German products, for example Volkswagen cars which used Jewish slave labor during the war. It is wrong for Jews to support German industries?
My cousin says we should just forgive and forget. I would like your thoughts on the subject.
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
The great rabbi known as the Chazon Ish once said that if a Torah scroll was found burning, and a man used it to light his cigarette, there is no Jewish law that forbids it. Nevertheless, doing so would show a lack of sensitivity. So too, Jewish law does not forbid purchasing a German car.
Regarding the "demand for forgiveness," people often quote the Bible that when one is struck, it is proper to "turn the other cheek" and allow that cheek to be struck as well. But that only appears in the Christian Bible. Jews believe in fighting actively against evil.
Almost all people are inherently good and so we should forgive their lapses. But some people are truly evil – for example, Amalek, the ancient nation which wantonly attacked the Jews leaving Egypt.
Over two millennia ago when Haman (a descendant of Amalek) was commanded by the king to lead his enemy Mordechai through the streets of Shushan, Mordechai was too weak to climb on to the horse. Haman had to stoop to allow Mordechai to use his back as a stepping stool. In the process, Mordechai delivered a vicious kick to Haman which obviously startled him.
Turning to Mordechai in bewilderment, Haman asked: "Does it not say in your Bible, 'Do not rejoice at your enemy's downfall?'" Mordechai responded that indeed it does, but it refers only to people less evil than Haman. So too, we have no reason or allowance to forgive the Nazis and their helpers. Those who scraped the concrete in the gas chambers gasping for air can choose whether to forgive the Germans. We cannot.