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The Sages of the Land of Israel thousands of years ago gave us insights into the historical swings in the attitudes of the Nations towards the Jewish People. Their insights may help us make sense of what is going around us today in Israel and the world of anti-antisemitism!

Rabbi Hiyya in the name of Rabbi Hosha’ya notes that at the outset Pharoah tells Joseph: “In the choicest land settle your father and brothers” (Genesis 47:6) but in the end: “and they embittered them with difficult work with mortar and bricks” (Exodus 1:14) (Talmud Eretz Yisrael, Pesachim 2:5)


Egypt, symbolic of the Nations of the World, at first showed us great hospitality. Pharaoh offered Joseph the best land for his father and brothers to settle in. But in the end the true nature of Egypt prevailed. The new Pharoah who had no special affinity for Joseph acted out his nature.

It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People. However, this nature can be suppressed albeit temporarily by acts that gain their favor. Joseph gained the good will of Pharaoh and that good will gave the Jewish People leniency for some time.

The Sages of the Land of Israel took note of an incredible historical patterns in the relations between Israel and the Nations:
The Scriptures state: “and Egypt wept for him for seventy days” (Gen.50:3).

Rabbi Abahu said: The entire seventy days that are between each letter are counterpart to the seventy days that Egypt did kindness with Jacob (Talmud Eretz Yisrael, Sotah 1:10).

Here too Egypt is symbolic of the Nations. As we see, the events that transpired in Egypt reverberated into a different time and place — not in Egypt and not in the same era but in Persia many generations later.

The time between the first letter which Haman sent to persecute the Jewish People and the time that Mordechai sent his letters to vindicate them was a span of seventy days. These seventy days of agony do not just correspond numerically by happenstance to the seventy days that Egypt did kindness (mourning) for Joseph, but are actually tied in with them.

The Sages of the Land of Israel perceived the relationship between Israel and the Nations as a scale which must ultimately be kept balanced. When acts of goodness towards our people tip the scale, the scale is balanced out by acts of ill-will. How and when is not certain. The relationship is not something that can be completely explained by means of cause of effect, but is built into the workings of the Universe.

The unfortunate reality has been that good will is followed by ill-will albeit in a different time and place.

We do not know God’s plans nor the workings of the Universe, but on the brighter side the Sages of the Land of Israel have taught us that ill will ultimately open the door to good will!


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Michael Linetsky is the director of the Torat Eretz Yisrael Institute whose mission is to bring to the broader audience the teachings of the Land of Israel.


  1. My Open Letter to the World~ We, the Jewish people, have nothing to apologize for, EVER. We have paid enormous dues over and over again. Our history attests, despite tremendous odds, much hatred, near extinction and ongoing threats of violence, to an indomitable spirit which has risen from the darkest hell and ash pits, over many centuries,crawling like lost ghosts, to revive a dead language, Hebrew, and RETURN to our ancient address to build/create/invent the most fabulous nation,the State of Israel, from swamp and sand and dead sea water, which the entire planet is invited to enjoy. Along the way, we learned how to defend ourselves and our beautiful nation. Many different nationalities live and work in Israel, making it one of the most colorful cultural countries on the planet, inspiring fusion in art, music, theater and community life. In the Diaspora, we are hard working, sensitive and caring citizens who appreciate our host countries, because let’s face it, we cannot all live in the Holy Moly Land, but we make good homes wherever we are able to live peacefully. We continue to raise new generations of beautiful, strong children who make great contributions to the lives of others as their parents and ancestors have done.We make movies, mouth-watering meals, medicine, music and yes, money! We have great humor and the best comedians, we have invented wonders the entire world embraces from desalinization programs for arid countries, technology which brings us all together to read pages like this, agricultural solutions, clean water solutions, to the most depressed societies, medical miracles and treatments, scientific developments, literature and philosophic works, advanced surgical techniques…by the way, we care for the sick of Gaza and the West Bank like we care for our own. Nobody remembers these things, but never mind. Time to leave off those shackles of doom, give over all the insecurities of being unloved or unappreciated, live to the max and be proud and happy and rejoice that the world, despite all the horrors, has been made into a more humane, beautiful, healthy, intelligent, just and caring world because Jews Live On This Planet~ How lucky can one race be?
    Am Yisrael Chai Forever! May all people be as protected and cherished~ <3

  2. Antisemitism is evil and stupid, yes, but I also feel that there’s a spiritual dimension to it. Even if you claim to be an atheist, people have a general idea of Israel’s history, biblically speaking – a very distinct history filled with acts of divine intervention, which is brilliantly recorded in the Torah or Bible and backed up archeologically and by myriad independent sources as well. The Torah and /or Bible will challenge you spritually in ways that other religions won’t precisely because of the unexplainable and humanly impossible survival of the Jews throughout millennia against all possible odds. That is a very uncomfortable reality to digest for many who doggedly deny the existence of G-d, or at lesst the G-d of Israel. Moreover, the resurgence of the State of Israel after 2000 years of Jewish exile only underlines this uncomfortable reality for the deniers. Jews and Israel are, for better or for worse, consciously or unconsciously, proof snd witnesses of a unique higher power, a G-d of light, who loves justice and despises evil, chaos and darkness. You then have three choices: you ignore the spiritual dimension of the Jewish reality, or you accept it, or you reject it. Now, you may supplement any of those postures with three different reactions of the conscience: respect, appreciation or hatred. The latter gives birth to antisemitism.

  3. The first country’s to ban Islam
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    The African nation of Angola has officially become the first country to ban Islam.
    Russia Passing New ‘Politically Incorrect’ Legislature Against Muslims.
    Australia government plans to broaden the listing criteria for terrorist organization’s, lower the threshold for arrest without warrant for terrorism offences.
    Theresa May: New laws to tackle British jihadists Home Secretary prepares to introduce ‘anti-social behaviour order’ for extremists and strip dual nationals of their citizenship.

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