GOOD MORNING! It has been said that the history of almost all of the Jewish holidays can be summed up succinctly: "They wanted to kill us; we won. Let's eat." Why has anti-Semitism been so pervasive in so many countries, in so many time periods and for so many reasons? (One begins to wonder. Perhaps there is something wrong with the Jews and Judaism? After all, there is an old Yiddish saying -- "If one person calls you a donkey, ignore him; if two people call you a donkey, buy a saddle.")
Between the years 250 CE and 1948 CE – a period of 1,700 years – Jews have experienced more than eighty expulsions from various countries in Europe – an average of nearly one expulsion every twenty-one years. Jews were expelled from England, France, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, Moravia and seventy-one other countries.
Historians have classified six explanations as to why people hate the Jews:
- Economic -- "We hate Jews because they possess too much wealth and power."
- Chosen People -- "We hate Jews because they arrogantly claim that they are the chosen people."
- Scapegoat -- "Jews are a convenient group to single out and blame for our troubles."
- Deicide -- "We hate Jews because they killed Jesus."
- Outsiders -- "We hate Jews because they are different than us." (The dislike of the unlike.)
- Racial Theory -- "We hate Jews because they are an inferior race."
As we examine the explanations, we must ask -- Are they the causes for anti-Semitism or excuses for Anti-Semitism? The difference? If one takes away the cause, then anti-Semitism should no longer exist. If one can show a contradiction to the explanation, it demonstrates that the "cause" is not a reason, it is just an excuse. Let's look at some contradictions:
- Economic -- The Jews of 17th- 20th century Poland and Russia were dirt poor, had no influence and yet they were hated.
- Chosen People -- a) In the late 19th century, the Jews of Germany denied "Choseness." And then they worked on assimilation. Yet, the holocaust started there. b) Christians and Moslems profess to being the "Chosen people," yet, the world and the anti-Semites tolerate them.
- Scapegoat -- Any group must already be hated to be an effective scapegoat. The Scapegoat Theory does not then cause anti-Semitism. Rather, anti-Semitism is what makes the Jews a convenient scapegoat target. Hitler's ranting and ravings would not be taken seriously if he said, "It's the bicycle riders and the midgets who are destroying our society."
- Deicide -- a) the Christian Bible says the Romans killed Jesus, though Jews are mentioned as accomplices (claims that Jews killed Jesus came several hundred years later). How come the accomplices are persecuted and there isn't an anti-Roman movement through history? b) Jesus himself said, "Forgive them [i.e., the Jews], for they know not what they do." The Second Vatican Council in 1963 officially exonerated the Jews as the killers of Jesus. Neither statement of Christian belief lessened anti-Semitism.
- Outsiders -- With the Enlightenment in the late 18th century, many Jews rushed to assimilate. Anti-Semitism should have stopped. Instead, for example, with the Nazis came the cry, in essence: "We hate you, not because you’re different, but because you’re trying to become like us! We cannot allow you to infect the Aryan race with your inferior genes."
- Racial Theory -- The overriding problem with this theory is that it is self-contradictory: Jews are not a race. Anyone can become a Jew - and members of every race, creed and color in the world have done so at one time or another.
Every other hated group is hated for a relatively defined reason. We Jews, however, are hated in paradoxes: Jews are hated for being a lazy and inferior race – but also for dominating the economy and taking over the world. We are hated for stubbornly maintaining our separateness – and, when we do assimilate – for posing a threat to racial purity through intermarriages. We are seen as pacifists and as warmongers; as capitalist exploiters and as revolutionary communists; possessed of a Chosen-People mentality, as well as of an inferiority complex. It seems that we just can't win.
Now we know what are NOT the reasons for anti-Semitism. Stay tuned till next week for the reasons for anti-Semitism -- or, if you can't wait, go to http://aish.com/seminars/whythejews (from which much of this material is taken) for the conclusion!
Portion of the Week
This week's Torah reading is an architect's or interior designer's dream portion. It begins with the Almighty commanding Moses to tell the Jewish people to bring an offering of the materials necessary for the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary.
The Torah continues with the details for constructing the Ark, the Table, the Menorah, the Tabernacle (the central area of worship containing the Ark, the Menorah, the Incense Altar, and the Table), the Beams composing the walls of the Tabernacle, the Cloth partition (separating the Holy of Holies where the Ark rested from the remaining Sanctuary part of the Tabernacle), the Altar and the Enclosure for the Tabernacle (surrounding curtains forming a rectangle within which was a large area approximately 15x larger than the Tabernacle).
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Regarding the construction of Ark -- which would eventually hold the Torah, the Tablet containing the Ten Commandments, the broken tablet of the Ten Commandments (which Moshe broke when he saw the Jews worshipping the Golden Calf), a jar of Manneh -- the Torah states, "And you shall make two cherubs of gold" on the cover of the Ark. Why two cherubs (small winged angels, portrayed as children with a chubby, rosy faces)?
The ark symbolized Torah study. The cherubs remind us to consider ourselves as young children when it comes to studying Torah -- to study with amazement, freshness, openness, appreciation. It is a good way to approach life!
Here is a neat website that I was going to plug anyway (before they told me the incentive): koshefinder.com It is great if you need to find a kosher restaurant, bakery or store when you travel. Also, here's how you can help the Shabbat Shalom! When you register for the free trip to Aruba, put "aish.shabbat" when asked for the referral code. They will send us $5 just for your registering. Thanks for your help!
CANDLE LIGHTING - February 11:
Jerusalem 4:43 Miami 5:53 New York 5:07
L.A. 5:15 Hong Kong 6:01 Singapore 7:00
Guatemala 5:44 Honolulu 6:10 J'Burg 6:38
Melbourne 8:06 Moscow 5:06 London 4:49
Atlanta 6:00 Toronto 5:24
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
The greatest wisdom is
realizing one's lack of wisdom.
In Honor of
all our love!
your children & grandchildren