Mensch: A Yiddish word that means (roughly) “gentleman.”
I got this from a relative recently:
Rabbi Michael Beals:
“The story I’m about to share with you about Joe Biden is special — in fact, I’m fairly certain I’m the only living person left who actually witnessed it firsthand.
It was about 16 years ago, and I was a young rabbi, brand-new to Delaware, on my way to lead a shiva minyan — a worship service following the death of a Jewish person. I was from California. Back then I didn’t know Claymont, Delaware from Scranton, Pennsylvania.
A quick bit of background: When someone passes away in the Jewish faith, we observe seven days of mourning, called shiva. We gather a group of ten Jewish adults together — a minyan — to say the Mourners’ Kaddish. It usually happens in a person’s home — somewhere intimate.
In this case, the deceased individual — her name was Mrs. Greenhouse, of blessed memory — had not been a person of means. She had lived in rent-controlled senior housing in a tall high-rise building off Namaans Road. Her apartment had been too small to fit everyone into, so we conducted our worship service in the building’s communal laundry room, in the basement of the high-rise.
We assembled the ten elders together, and it was in this most humble of places that I began to lead the kaddish. Toward the end of the service, a door at the back of the laundry room opened, and who walks in but Senator Joe Biden, his head lowered, all by himself.
I nearly dropped my prayer book in shock. Senator Biden stood quietly in the back of the room for the duration of the service. At the close of the kaddish, I walked over to him and asked the same question that must have been on everyone else’s mind : “Senator, what are you doing here?”
And he said to me: “Listen, back in 1972, when I first ran for Senate, Mrs. Greenhouse gave $18 to my first campaign. Because that’s what she could afford. And every six years, when I’d run for re-election, she’d give another $18. She did it her whole life. I’m here to show my respect and gratitude.”
Now, the number 18 is significant in the Jewish faith — its numbers spell out the Hebrew word chai, as in “to life, to life, l’chayim!” But it’s also a humble amount. Joe Biden knew that. And he respected that.
There were no news outlets at our service that day — no Jewish reporters or important dignitaries. Just a few elderly mourners in a basement laundry room.
Joe Biden didn’t come to that service for political gain. He came to that service because he has character. He came to that service because he’s a mensch.
And if we need anything right now when it comes to the leadership of our country — we need a mensch — I know this is such a simple, small story. But I tell it to as many people as will listen to me.
Because I think that, in their heart of hearts, when people are trying to think about the decision they’ll make next year — this is the kind of story that matters.
Joe Biden is a mensch. We need a mensch.”
I’m something of an expert on menschlichkeit (the practice of being a “mensch”). I’ve been a mensch most of my life, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve been single for decades.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not bitter about being single. Long ago, I made the decision that I’d rather remain loyal to what I am than sacrifice my true character for the vain hope of acquiring a significant other. Doing so would be tantamount to suicide.
As feminism continues to ravage what’s left of Western Civilization, brute force and violence gain more and more traction as the primary method of communication. Feminists have been at war with themselves for decades, fighting any aspect of femininity that they discover within themselves. Feminism opposes femininity.
Many feminists hate the old “gender-roles.” They associate them with oppression, so they’ll latch onto traditionally male traits, rejoicing when men do the same with traditionally female traits.
Except that deep in their hearts, they still want men who act like men. That’s what many of them are still attracted to. This internal conflict can’t be healthy. It’s certainly not healthy for society.
Insofar as feminists wield power, this conflict translates into superficial obeisance to feminine values, but more meaningful deference to what is perceived as male values.
For example, by opposing the right to bear arms, people are actually granting the ultimate authority to whoever is physically stronger. In the past, rioters would be met with water cannons or worse. These days, rioters are “given room to destroy” and their demands are more likely to be met.
It’s possible that by yielding to brute strength, through public policy, some feminists are appeasing their inner woman. They might actually enjoy some sort of sexual gratification by doing so.
In the past, when men clearly had the upper hand, being a mensch was a good thing. It’s admirable when strong men protect the weak, and show chivalry.
But today, at least in Western society, men do not have the upper hand. Wealthy men are in a class of their own; most of us do not belong in that category – and the fact that there are wealthy and powerful men does not benefit working-class men one bit. Wealthy men are powerful by virtue of their wealth, not by virtue of their gender.
In such a society, being a mensch is not necessarily a virtue – and it might even be a deficit, especially if you’re the Leader of the Free World.
No Rabbi Beals, we don’t need a mensch in the White House. What we need is a MAN in the White House. We need somebody who can fight for us. We need somebody who can play dirty, who can manipulate the Media, play politics with the Chinese Communist Party and say “NO!” to special interests. We need somebody who is willing to piss people off, who is boastful, arrogant and fear-inspiring.
If the United States can’t have such a leader, China and Russia certainly can – and a mensch in the White House will be duly taken advantage of.
I want to make it clear that I’m not disparaging Mr. Biden for his kind gesture to the old Jewish woman; that was a fine thing to do. Good for him, but it doesn’t make him presidential material.