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Reb Elchonon - What Is A Goy?

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Reb Elchonon - What Is A Goy?
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The translation of the word "Goy" is a nation. Why do we refer to non-Jews as Goyim? Aren't the Jews a nation as well? Reb Elchonon Wasserman distinguishes between the word "Goy" and the word "Am", which also means a nation. "Goy" he says, is a nation that has national borders. Geography is the sole basis of their unity. "Am" is a unity based on religion and spiritual heritage.

Bilam said (Bamidbar 23:9) "Hein Am L'Vadad Yishkon", Bnei Yisroel is an Am. As an Am they are compelled to lives alone. If we were to integrate and assimilate, we would no longer be unique. We would no longer be an Am. Could we have our own land and be a "Goy", a nation like all other nations with our own state? Bilam answers that question with the end of the pasuk, "U'BaGoyim Lo Yischashav", Bnei Yisroel can never be a Goy. Hashem declares that we have no value and no right to exist as a Goy among the other Goyim.

A marked territory, even Eretz Yisroel, cannot distinguish us as a nation. It is not the way we we came into existence. We were built from ideals and continue to exist because of these ideals. Lack of a Torah lifestyle is the only existential threat that we face today. Without Torah no borders and no army can save us. Am Yisroel would cease to exist. With Torah, no one can threaten our existence. Am Yisroel Chai!

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