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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." With increasing anti-Semitism - in Europe, the World Court attack on Israel, in the movie theaters - it is a good time to look at the causes of anti-Semitism and what we can do about it.
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 rantings 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). Why are the accomplices persecuted and there isn't an anti-Roman movement throughout 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://www.aish.com/seminars/whythejews/ (from which much of this material is taken) for the conclusion!
Torah Portion of the Week
The Torah continues this week with the command to make for use in the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary - oil for the Menorah and clothes for the Cohanim, the Priests. It then gives instruction for the consecration of the Cohanim and the Outer Altar. The portion concludes with instructions for constructing the Incense Altar.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And you shall command the Children of Israel that they bring to you pure olive oil beaten for the light to cause the lamp to burn always." (Exodus 27:20)
The Midrash comments on this verse that the Almighty does not really need the light, but you should nonetheless make a light for Him just as He makes light for you. The Midrash gives the analogy of a blind person and a person who could see who were walking together. The person with sight led the blind person the entire way. When they came to their destination the sighted person told the blind person to make a light. "I want you to do this," he said, "so you will not feel a debt of gratitude for all that I have done for you. Now you have done something for me in return
Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz comments that from here we see what total kindness is. There are many ulterior motives a person can have when he does favors for others. The ultimate in doing kindness is to do it without any expectations for something in return. This Midrash should be our guide when we do a favor for another person. Our attitude should be totally to help someone and not expect even gratitude in return.
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 5:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:52 Hong Kong 6:10 Honolulu 6:18
J'Burg 6:16 London 5:29 Los Angeles 5:34
Melbourne 6:32 Miami 6:06 Moscow 5:56
New York 5:34 Singapore 7:02
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Birthdays are good for you;
the more you have, the longer you live.
Mazal Tov on