Question:In the name of Rav Hutner and other Gedolim, we have heard of the phrase “Galus America” (the “American exile”). Since I live in America, it is relevant for me to know about this. Can the Rav explain to me what the idea of “Galus America” is, and how it differs from the exiles of other countries in our times? May Hashem rescue us from exile, and bring us to the complete Redemption, speedily. But until we get there with the help of Hashem, perhaps the Rav can tell us what the proper perspective should be, on how to view the exiles in which we, the souls of the Jewish people, are found in. Much thanks to the Rav for all of the personal guidance through answering the questions, which provides light, pleasure and true joy to us, who are found in the darkness of this world and in an orphaned generation.
Answer:“Galus America” is an exile of materialism, of glorifying materialism and being firmly attached to it. Unlike the Greek exile, which was an exile of the “body” in the sense that it glorified the wisdom the physical body, the “exile of America” is about being attached to materialism for the purpose of the materialism itself [it is about gruff physicality, as opposed to the Greek exile, which was focused on the intellectual aspects of man’s physicality]. It resembles the verse, “Feed me now, of this red stuff” – an attachment to the very materialism itself. In America, the general attitude of people is to value people based on their financial success. America is also about an attachment to owning many acquisitions, and life in America mostly revolves around this. As a result, the exile of America is not an exile of constraint, but the opposite of constraint – it is all about “expanding” [our horizons to pursue more and more materialism]. It is all about taking each aspect of one’s materialism and expanding it further. Examples include [the pursuit and pride that people have in] owning a bigger house, a bigger freezer, a bigger washing machine [a bigger and fancier car, etc]. It also includes the excessive attachment and indulging in food. For example [in America it is commonplace for people to have], eating a bigger breakfast when a person could have instead eaten a simpler breakfast of one or two eggs, and the like. The more value people place on materialism, the more they pursue it. The emphasis on materialism [in America] therefore creates a bigger pursuit of materialism [in America. And that is what defines “Galus America”].