Ask The Rabbi

For the week ending 11 January 2003 / 8 Shevat 5763

Anti-Semitism

The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Anti-Semitism

From: Jason in Buffalo, NY

Dear Rabbi,

Why is there so much anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish sentiment in the world?

Dear Jason,

I try to offer a logical explanation, although I personally believe there is a mystical reason as well.

Many different forms of Jew hatred spring up from time to time. Several different reasons lie behind them. These include:

1)Jealousy towards us for having the original Bible

2)Anger at our continued resistance to being converted

3) Ideological clash

But why is it so universal? Why are the Jews always the bad guys? Other nations and religions guilty of the same "crimes" are not victim to this hatred to the extent that we are.

To trace the roots of anti-Semitism we must journey back over 3300 years to the revelation at Mt. Sinai.

Before presenting the Torah to the Jews, G-d offered it to all the other peoples of the world. It was up for grabs, yet every nation turned the offer down. They simply weren't willing to change their lifestyles in order to accommodate the Torah into their daily living.

When the Jews accepted the Torah, the jealousy of the nations was aroused. "They now have an advantage that we neglected and we can never forgive them for it."

We have something that the other nations lack. We were chosen for the task to be G-d's "emissaries" to the rest of the world. Exemplary, Torah-true lives should impact on others and cause them to draw closer to G-d.

Nobody likes being told what to do, and the flag that we wave, flaps irritatingly in their faces. We represent a threat to them; an irritating reminder that maybe they should be striving for higher things.

This hatred frequently lies dormant in the subconscious, flaring up when an excuse can be found. Often it's intensified at times when we enjoy material success. The Jew in the Mercedes "runs them down"! Not only do we have the audacity to advocate a Torah; we also have the chutzpah to live luxurious lives.

The State of Israel especially is a thorn in the side of many of our enemies. From the brink of annihilation in the holocaust we have risen to become a modern, relatively wealthy nation with a powerful military. The paupers from the shtetl are now high-tech tycoons.

Is anti-Semitism only a bad thing? Strange as it may sound, it may also be the best thing that the gentiles have ever bequeathed us with! Should it happen that we begin to neglect our responsibilities as Jews, G-d nudges us to remind us who we are and what we are doing here. Anti-Semitism works as shock treatment. Never forget that you are a Jew. And a Jew has duties that may never be abandoned.

Nowadays too, the problems that are rapidly escalating, are a signal from G-d. Let us take this warning to heart, and do what we can, to strengthen ourselves and others in the service of G-d.

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