Why the Hatred?

The Jewish nation is presently in a state of war. It is not only the Jews living in Israel that have been attacked and are fighting for their survival in the face of the genocidal Hamas terrorists and murderers. We too have been subjected to threats of another Holocaust; G-d forbid, by so many. And the question on our minds is why? Why do they hate us so much?

Many will say it is the supposed “occupation.” But that is nonsense. They tried to destroy us before Israel “occupied” Gaza and now after Jews were tragically expelled from Gaza and given to these bloodthirsty murderers.

More rational minds will conclude that it has nothing to do with Israel but with traditional Jewish hatred, or what people call “antisemitism. Anti-Zionism is just one recent incarnation of Jew hatred

But then the question will be why did this form of Jew hatred emerge from Israel if it really has nothing to do with Israel?

Custom Made for the Jews

The truth is that this hatred has everything to do with Israel and yet it is not about occupation. Indeed, it can be argued that anti Jewishness has always been connected to the Jewish presence in and connection with the Land of Israel. Moreover, even if there would be not even a single Jew living in Israel the evil forces would complain that we are thieves for having occupied Israel and taken it away from the other nations.

Proof of this thesis canbe adduced from the very first commentary of Rashi, the greatest Jewish Bible commentator. On the very first verse of Genesis, Rashi questions why the Torah, a book of laws, devotes an entire book of Genesis and part of Exodus to discuss Creation, Adam and Eve, the Patriarchs, etc. which seem to have nothing to do with the Torah’s objective, to instruct and guide. Indeed, the very word Torah means guidance.

Rashi answer is that knowing the history from Creation onward provides us with guidance in terms of defending our claim to the Land of Israel in the face of the criticism of the nations of the world who claim we are thieves for having stolen it from them. Genesis teaches us that it is G-d who created the world including the Land of Israel, and who defined its character. And the Creator initially gave it to the Canaanites and then took it from them and gave it to the Jewish people. The Book of Genesis provides us with the knowledge that G-d promised the land to Abraham, as recorded in this week’s Torah portion, and then reiterated this promise to Isaac and then exclusively to Jacob and his progeny, for posterity.

Now, let us analyze the need for Rashi to open up the discussion of the entire Torah with the foregoing message. When Rashi wrote these words, there were hardly any Jews living in Israel and they certainly had no political control over the land. Why were the nations of the world then so obsessed with Jewish hegemony in Israel that prompted Rashi to respond to them?

The answer is that what the nations of the world find unnerving is the uncanny relationship Jews have with the Land of Israel. Not only was the absence of Jews from Israel at that time, and for centuries earlier, not a contradiction to their hostility to Jews but it was, ironically, the cause of it. The Nations of the World realized that the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel goes far deeper than just their occupation of it. The Jewish connection is so intrinsic and absolute that even when there are no Jews residing there the Jew is still connected to the Land. Even when other nations conquered and occupied the land, they could never view their occupation as having any real significance because when they looked at the land, they saw Jews and Jewish influence. The Land reflects its Jewish character because Israel the Land and Israel the people are organically linked. This was true even when the Land was barren  and desolate, as it was through most of its existence.

The Midrash tells us that the relationship of the Land to the Jewish people is like a suit that was tailor made for a person. No one else can wear that suit comfortably; it just won’t fit because it was custom made for one person. This is precisely what the conquerors of Israel felt even after they gained full control over the land; it just didn’t feel that it w theirs. And, as a result they never successfully were able to colonize the Land. The Jew made them feel uncomfortable without Jews actually being there physically.

This explains the extraordinary phenomenon that Jews never lost hope of returning to the Land even when the prospects of that happening were extremely low.

Purpose of Creation

But it gets deeper than that based on another comment of Rashi that follows the one cited before. Rashi translates the word Bereishis not as “In the beginning” but rather “Because of Torah and Israel [which are referred to in the Torah as “beginnings”] G-d created the world. The entire creation was based on the Jewish people receiving and implementing the teachings of the Torah. In other words, G-d chose the Jewish people for their role as implementors of G-d’s very plan for the Universe.

Now, while a Jew must adhere to the teachings of the Torah and all its commandments wherever a Jew lives, there is only one place on Earth in which a Jew can fulfill his or her obligations in their entirety. Thus, there is only one place on earth in which G-d’s plan for the Universe can come to fruition. That is none other than the Land of Israel through its symbiotic relationship with the People of Israel.

This, then is what unnerves the Nations of the World; They evil nations cannot stomach the fact that the Jewish nation in Israel is engaged in implementing G-d’s plan for the world. They do not want G-d’s plan to take root and flourish because it is at odds with their diabolical plan for world domination.

And as we approach the Final Redemption through Moshiach when G-d’s plan will become completely manifest, the evil nations of the world are having a tantrum because they know, consciously or subconsciously, that their hegemony over society will finally come to an end.

Thus, what we are experiencing today is evil in its last throes, mounting its last stand, before it goes out of business, forever.

So while hatred of Jews ay be seen as independent of hatred of our relationship to the Land of Israel; it is really very much connected. For Israel, the people, manifest their role as Jews in fulfillment of G-d’s Master Plan, demonstrably in Israel, the Land.

It follows then that our war with this evil must be fought not only with physical weapons but also with  spiritual weapons, Torah and Mitzvos, with complete faith in G-d’s promise to bring us Moshiach and the Final Redemption. 

Rabbi Heschel Greenberg

Published in Parsha

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