Jew hatred may very well be the oldest extant contagion on earth. Historians, sociologists, and philosophers debate its cause. Yet an honest study of Jew-hatred defies academia’s constraints. The best scholars can do is to highlight its peculiarity and its distinctiveness. It is eternal, and it manifests itself in ever changing ways so that the Jew can be demonized as a communist and a capitalist often in the same breath. No scientific analysis can account for its ability to infect the hearts of the worst Jew-haters across time, region, or generations, and cause so many supposed civil societies to rise and butcher us. The scientific eye can never truly understand the disease, because only a perspective rooted in Torah can provide insight into a metaphysical malady.
One devoid of Torah is least equipped to understand it. Chazal understood it best: “It is a known thing, that Esau hates Jacob.” Prior to the arrival of the true Jewish Mashiach, the worst elements of society invariably find the perfect societal scapegoat in the Jew. Perhaps in such politically correct times, many Jews would prefer to ignore the implications of chazal’s words, and to retreat from provocative generalizations. Yet history shows us that it is so. Within the framework of being the “chosen people”, we stand as a lightning-rod both for the articulation of Judaism and in our rejection or distortion of it. In truth there is no escaping it. Our job is to live and breathe authentic Judaism, yet we must remain cognizant of the constant need to defend ourselves from spiritual and physical attacks.
The virus claimed 11 more Jews recently Shabbat, when a deranged Jew-hating gunman entered a Pittsburgh synagogue on Shabbat and sprayed a tapestry of death where they prayed. The blood of the martyred was still warm, their bodies barely in their graves, and the ghouls (both Jewish and gentile) saw an opportunity to feed on the carnage. To exploit Jewish tragedy for self-interest, vulgarians seized megaphones and trampled on the memory of our murdered brothers and sisters. As always, the perverse voices were multi-faceted:
- Clergy/Lay Leaders: In an extraordinary outrage, many liberal Jews in America saw fit to continue taking their cues from CNN radicals by blaming President Trump for the massacre. Those who would open the doors to crazed Muslims and MS13 thugs in the name of open borders, saw fit to blame Trump’s strong policies on protecting America’s borders (and I would say correct) as inciting a lunatic Jew-hater. Where one finds correlation or causation is beyond the reasoning of any sane person. And only a fool would utter such madness. One of the most egregious examples of this chillul Hashem came from one of “Open-Orthodoxy’s” enlightened voices, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, who noted:
“Trump almost immediately blamed the victimized synagogue for not having enough security. He engaged in a classic political move of stoking fear to gain support as being the national protector amidst fearful chaos. If we build higher walls, if we turn away more strangers, if we have more guns, everything will be alright. Rather than build a society of trust, we should build a culture of suspicion? Close our tents? Rather than knock on our neighbors’ doors, we should build more walls between us? All other minority groups feel at-risk right now amidst growing hate and we must get to know each other more deeply & support one another more loyally & compassionately. I’m grateful that so many partners in our social justice activism (Pastors, Muslims, immigrant-rights activists, LGBT leaders, etc.) have reached out to us in solidarity. We are not alone. None of us are.”
What a chillul Hashem from one who wears the crown of “Rabbi”. Another example illustrating how “open-orthodoxy” has more in common with reform than anything remotely halachic. In the face of tragedy, Yanklowitz found reason to bash Trump and to highlight his own progressive agenda on guns, gays, the border, immigration, etc.
- The other end of the religious spectrum: Certain fringe elements, who in the past have solved the age-old philosophical issues of tzadik v’rah lo (why the righteous suffer) came out with statements claiming to know why Jews were murdered in Pittsburgh. Ironic how such people purport to understand every tragedy when it happens to secular Jews but cannot understand why religious Jews in a Har Nof shul were butchered a while back. A cursory analysis of such people exposes that such men are guided by hatred, and not love of Jews. No authentic man of Torah would utter this kind of filth or even listen to it. Such people would be well to remember what the Chazon Ish had to say about most Jews who don’t follow Torah today. To equate the majority as willful sinners is grotesque.
- Politicians: I expected the standard blathering of left-wing American politicians. But I was surprised when Israeli Michael Oren used the tragedy to advocate for the acceptance of non-halachic “liberal” Jews in Israel. It takes a certain kind of person to exploit tragedy to pander to progressive Jews in America. Not only is Oren nakedly ignorant of halacha, he showed that he isn’t a mensch.
- Jewish Hasbara Activists: It is equally vulgar to use tragedy to demand Aliyah, when we in Israel live in a country which allows an armed PLO to wreak havoc in our heartland, not to mention allowing incendiaries and rockets to fly across our southern skies and burn our peripheral south. Some of these types seem to relish in the opportunity to tell Jews that it is safer in Israel.
I want to make myself very clear on this point: Jews are generally required to live in Eretz Yisroel barring certain halachic categories which allow one to remain. Yet the only authentic reason to make Aliyah is the halachic imperative to live here. Certainly, there is tremendous nobility (I think) in a desire to change things and to live in the land where we are guaranteed to be under G-d’s hashgacha. But to claim that Jews will be safer in the short term is to lie to them, since the reality is that Jewish blood is deemed cheaper in Israel by many of leaders than it is in America. It is true that the Jew must not assume that any current condition of livability is sustainable forever. History shows that it is not so. I live in Israel, but I will not give a pass to our impotent leadership’s marriage to the age-old policy of restraint and retreat in the face of Arab terror.
- Gentile “Friends”: Too many gentile “friends” on the hasbara scene try to make a buck from naïve Jews who require unprincipled token gentiles. Some of these advocates have the gall to try to define Jews, and on occasion to even define halacha! A genuine righteous non-Jew ought not opine on matters of Torah. So we shouldn’t give a damn when the kind of reprobate who would state that “The Israeli Rabbinate can go piss up a rope”, has things to say about martyred Jews. Or similarly, we ought not provide a microphone to a non-Jewish activist who spouts the rhetoric of the Left, tries to appropriate Judaism and mix it with goyish pop culture, and who had the nerve to tell Jews in a Chanukah video “to own your @#$%t!”, before trying to fuse Jewish identity with a lyric from Beyoncé.
- Evangelical “Friends”: More absurd than the former category are the many evangelicals sharing their heartfelt sympathy, whose very ideology mandates our spiritual destruction. Chanukah reminds us that spiritual predators are even more dangerous to the Jewish experience. As such, the crocodile tears of those who wish to “restore us” or “complete us” are repugnant. In this sense, it was certainly correct to loudly oppose and condemn Mike Pence for bringing a messianic to a political rally.
- A message to the ghouls and the fools, on both sides of the river. Jewish blood is not butter to flavor your bread. Our people were murdered. The occasion is not a forum for selfish self-aggrandizement, or to peddle false sociological philosophies.
- Only an insensitive Jew takes political potshots at a president who by any barometer is not an anti-Semite. This would be so even if he didn’t have a Jewish daughter and Jewish grandchildren. On the contrary. Whether one likes Trump or not, his history past and present, is one of kindness and goodwill to Jews, and what I believe is a genuine affinity for the Jewish people.
- Jews were murdered because Jew hatred is eternal and will remain so until the Messiah arrives. In the diaspora or in Israel.
- The existence of a modern state of Israel gives us the theoretical ability to deal with our enemies via the Divine gift of an army and self-sovereignty. If only we feared G-d and not goyim, we would prosper. The solution in Eretz Yisroel is to use the full arm of a G-d given army to destroy our enemies, and when possible to stretch that arm to help and protect Jews in the diaspora.
- In America, and for that matter in any country, those who refuse for one reason or another to vacate the diaspora, must still maintain a commitment to protect Jewish lives. Those who espouse notions of Jewish self-defense in the manner of the original JDL, have ample opportunities to show Jewish strength and protect Jewish lives.
- Many states in America allow people to carry firearms. In such environments, Jews can provide armed security at any community center or synagogue and to patrol neighborhoods. Yet even those Jews in blue states must deal with the limitations and make decisions. Personally, I subscribe to the the maxim that it is better to be judged by 12, then to buried by six men carrying shovels.
- Baseball is legal everywhere, and Home Depot sells pieces of 10-inch rebar. If necessary, one does what one must to protect Jewish lives regardless of man’s law. And if one eschews the mantle of what they may see as vigilantism, let them hire trained professionals to do the job.
When necessary, all methods to protect Jewish lives are appropriate. Politics has nothing to do with it. From the Torah’s perspective, the notion of stable, responsible, people having guns for self-defense is a no-brainer. It is a mitzvah to live. The Torah grants us the obligation to preserve life. The gun is merely a tool to deal with the cruel. Attempts to remove guns from the hands of decent people, ensures more dead Jews. In the case of self-preservation, and the preservation of Jews, the Torah’s answer to anti-Semites with guns, is better guns, better training, and the preemptive ability to put one in a Jew-hater’s lung before he takes another breathe.
Now is the time to mourn for the many Jews murdered and maimed by a Jew hating monster named Robert Bowers (yemach shmo vzichro), and to ensure that within the stretch of our Jewish arms, no more Jews will die at the hands of ugly men. Neither in Gush Etzion, Paris, or in Pittsburgh.