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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • The Jewish Attitude to Evil

combating anti-Semitism


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Nisan 22, 5771
Hello Rabbi, I have a question. What’s the difference between ignorance and indiference? I think both are a source for anti-semitism. But how to recognize each other in people? And how to act before them?
Shalom. Unfortunately, the nation of Israel has almost always inevitably been hated, because our role is to be "a nation of teachers". "Why is it called (Mount) Sinai? Because that's where sina (=hate) came down to the world". When we brought morality and conscience to the world, (Pasquale even refers to Israel as "the conscience of mankind") we automatically limited our popularity. Few children like their preaching teacher, and nobody likes their conscience, because nobody likes to feel guilty. In addition, through our example, by comparison, we shed a negative light on the gentiles, by showing that "it can be done". Others add that as a minority in exile, or in the Middle East, there will always be what sociologists call “the dislike of the unlike”, simply because we’re different. That’s why it never made a difference whether it's Amalek, the Babylonians, Haman, the Greeks, the Romans, the Christians, the Moslems, the Germans, Poles or Russians, anti-Semitism was always a problem. Does that mean that there is no hope? Rav Kook explains optimistically that people are fond of those who give them pleasure (like entertainers), once they understand the benefits of what they have received. Just as a child often hates going to his dentist, despite the fact that everything done there is for the child's own good. Only when he matures will he eventually thank his dentist for all he has done. Similarly, as the "conscience" of mankind, we often make them feel guilty. Nevertheless, as the world gradually matures, they will eventually thank us for the morality and monotheistic truths and values, the greatest treasures and pleasures of modern society, which we, the Jewish people, brought to mankind. At that time the world will be neither indifferent nor ignorant of our important contributions and will not only stop hating us, but will even appreciate us and be fond of Israel. Until that time, trying to educate an anti-Semitic world who constantly accuses the victim (Israel) instead of the clear aggressor (the Arabs), whether out of ignorance or indifference is basically hopeless. Just like there was no logic and no way to argue with the accusation that Jews put Christian blood in their matza, even though we throw out an egg which has even a spot of blood! As a temporary solution, Israel must have a top-notch army and nuclear weapons, in order to deter and defend ourselves against our constant aggressors, and just strive to be that moral nation, and do that which we have to do, without taking the anti-Semitic world too seriously. Eventually they will mature. With Love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat
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