“When the Holy Ark would travel, Moshe would say, ‘Arise Hashem, and let Your foes be scattered. Let those who hate You flee from before You.’ ” – Bamidbar 10:35
In this pasuk, Moshe Rabbeinu is equating hatred of the Jews with hatred of Hashem.
Rashi is bothered by the comparison. Why does Moshe call the enemies of the Jews “enemies of Hashem”? Maybe they are just enemies of the Jewish people? Rashi answers, “Anyone who hates Yisrael hates Hashem.” It seems clear that Rashi assumes the root cause of anti-Semitism is hatred of Hashem.
This concept of attributing hatred of Jewsto hatred of Hashem seems difficult to understand. After all, if we study history, we see many reasons Jews were hated – and they had nothing to do with hating Hashem.
One reason commonly cited for anti-Semitism is simple jealousy. Historically, it was the Jew who brought his economic wisdom and acumen to the various countries he inhabited; it was the Jew who became the adviser and confidante to kings and governors. The Jewish contribution to the cultural, scientific, and technological evolution of civilization is nothing short of astounding. With contributions as diverse as those made by Freud, Spinoza, Trotsky, Kafka, Einstein and Jerry Seinfeld, the Jew excels.
This alone would seem like a logical reason for anti-Semitism. There are, however, many other reasons.
Another reason given for anti-Semitism is what we’ll call the scapegoat theory. To gain power or distract the population from their suffering, a monarch would look for a place to put the blame. What better a place than the eternally despised Jew?
By arousing the masses to Jew-hatred, an individual seeking power could use this energy as a galvanizing force to bring together masses of unaffiliated individuals. We certainly have seen many instances of this during the past 2,000 years.
Yet another reason stems for the charge leveled against the Jews of deicide – that we killed “god.” The average person would agree that is a sound reason to hate a people. After all, it certainly doesn’t sound very friendly, charitable, and kindly to kill “god.”
Finally, one of the most oft-quoted reasons to hate the Jews is that we make no secret that we are the Chosen People. As is clearly written in the Torah, the Jewish people have been given a unique role to play among the nations: to be a light, a guide, and Hashem’s most beloved nation. Is it any wonder that throughout the millennia we have been hated?
So why does Rashi say anyone who hates Jews hates Hashem? Maybe they hate them for one or more of the reasons cited above.
The answer seems to come from the very question itself: Why is it that the one constant throughout history is that everyone hates the Jews? Movements come and go; ideologies pass with time; systems of governments evolve. The only thing that doesn’t change is that everyone hates the Jews. Rich or poor, powerful or weak, dominant or oppressed, the Jew is hated – and then blamed for causing that very hatred.
Beginning with Avraham Avinu almost 4,000 years ago, there has been an endless stream of reasons to hate the Jew. And that itself is a most curious phenomenon. In whatever country the Jews found themselves, they were loyal and industrious citizens, yet they were always hated and always for different reasons.
The Jew Represents Hashem
Despised in one country for being too powerful, then trampled in another land for being too weak. Segregated into ghettos, then accused of being separatists. Accused by capitalists of being communist, hounded by communists because they were “all” capitalists. Hated for killing a religion’s god, yet equally despised in civilizations that don’t worship that god. Called “children of the devil” and the devil himself. Blamed for the Bubonic Plague and typhus, for poisoning wells and using sacrificial blood for baking matzahs.