“He started to punch me. I screamed ‘What do you want from me?’ ‘Help!’” describes an Orthodox Jew about the moment when he had been viciously assaulted without provocation by a Pakistani immigrant in Brooklyn, NY. The video of the aggression went viral, putting a face on a growing problem in the US and the world: verbal hostility toward Jews transforming into physical violence.
This was the second attack of its nature in two consecutive days. In the other incident, a teenager carrying a stick chased after an Orthodox Jewish man in Brooklyn and beat him on his back and shoulders.
These types of violent actions against Jews are certainly not coincidental, but rather, a recurring pattern that’s increasingly becoming the new norm. Just this year alone, organizations monitoring hate crimes tracked 11 assaults against Jews in New York State, 8 of them in Brooklyn. Statewide, the Anti-Defamation League reported a 90% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 compared to the previous year.
Why the Jews?
How many times have we asked ourselves, “Why Jews?” How can a drop in the ocean of the world’s population be the subject of such visceral hatred and scrutiny? It usually manifests as inflammatory rhetoric openly expressed without consequences, like the recent comment by the well-known American anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan, who compared Jews with termites.
So, again we ask why it is that 15 million Jewish people, around 0.2% of the total world population, draw so much attention and arouse so many emotions? Why has there been this special treatment of Jews throughout history? When we think about how humanity has progressed with all its hi-tech developments, communications, education, culture, how has this backward behavior and attitude toward Jewish people persisted?
No one wants to deal with answering these questions because there is no logical explanation. Foremost Kabbalist, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, Baal HaSulam, in The Writings of the Last Generation, Part One (Section Nine) stated it this way: “It is a fact that Israel is hated by all nations, whether for religious reasons, racial reasons, capitalistic reasons, communistic reasons, or cosmopolitan reasons. It is so because the hatred precedes all reasons.” In other words, although the hatred and blame of the Jewish people takes on many forms, from the idea that the “Jews run the world” all the way back to being seen as responsible for the “Black Death” epidemics and even the death of Jesus Christ, none of these are the actual causes of the hatred, but its symptoms. The cause of anti-Semitism is rooted much deeper beyond our usual understanding and reason.
What Is the Cause of Anti-Semitism?
In order to find the root of anti-Semitism we need to look into the profound and special role of the Jews, a role they cannot escape.
According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, anti-Semitism is not an accident or a whim, but a subconscious and instinctive reaction of the world that feels the Jews hold the secret to pave the way for a better society, to be a “light unto nations,” the role they were chosen for.
Around 4,000 years ago, the Jewish nation began to build its life in accordance with the idea of unity and love, under the tenet, “one man with one heart,” in mutual care and solidarity, being responsible for one another. Jews are expected to reclaim and implement this principle that was lost due to internal divisions and conflicts. The world waits for them to set an example and bring unity to the world by uniting and then extending the positive force of unity to all human society.
Until the Jews carry out this task, the animosity and accusations against them for all the world’s problems will only increase, and this is precisely what is happening.
The unique role of the Jews is explained in the book, Sefat Emet [Language of Truth],
“The children of Israel became guarantors to correct the entire world… everything depends on the children of Israel. To the extent that they correct themselves [and become united], all creations follow them.”
The Midrash (Bereshit Rabah, 66) also refers to the important role of the Jewish nation: “This nation, world peace dwells within it.” Jews cannot escape from carrying out this mission, everything revolves around it. Becoming the conduit that radiates light and goodness is what the world really wants from us. If the Jews repair their broken relations and help the rest of the world achieve this state, the hatred toward them will be canceled. It is my hope that we will acknowledge and accept this great responsibility sooner rather than later, as the well-being and happiness of both the Jewish people and the nations of the world depend on our unity, and spreading that unity to the world.
“The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come over them. …When there is bonding among them, and no separation of hearts, they have peace and quiet … and all the curses and suffering are removed by that.”
– Rabbi Kalman Epstein, Maor VaShemesh
Featured in The Times of Israel