Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35-40 )
GOOD MORNING! With so many anti-Semitic bomb threats, swastikas painted on buildings and keyed into car doors, it is no wonder that I was recently asked, "Rabbi, why do people hate the Jews? Is there any other possible reason than jealousy?"
Anti-Semitism is nothing new. Between the years 250 CE and 1948 CE - a period of 1,700 years - Jews have experienced more than eighty expulsions from various countries in Europe - an average of nearly one expulsion every twenty-one years. Jews were expelled from England, France, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, Moravia and seventy-one other countries.
Historians have classified six explanations
as to why people hate the Jews:
- Economic -- "We hate Jews because they possess too much wealth and power."
- Chosen People -- "We hate Jews because they arrogantly claim that they are the chosen people."
- Scapegoat -- "Jews are a convenient group to single out and blame for our troubles."
- Deicide -- "We hate Jews because they killed Jesus."
- Outsiders -- "We hate Jews because they are different than us." (The dislike of the unlike.)
- Racial Theory -- "We hate Jews because they are an inferior race."
As we examine the explanations, we must ask -- Are they the causes for anti-Semitism or excuses for Anti-Semitism? The difference? If one takes away the cause, then anti-Semitism should no longer exist. If one can show a contradiction to the explanation, it demonstrates that the "cause" is not a reason, it is just an excuse. Let's look at some contradictions:
1) Economic -- The Jews of 17th- 20th century Poland and Russia were dirt poor, had no influence and yet they were hated.
2) Chosen People -- a) In the late 19th century, the Jews of Germany denied "Chosenness." And then they worked on assimilation. Yet, the Holocaust started there. b) Christians and Moslems profess to being the "Chosen people," yet, the world and the Anti-Semites tolerate them.
3) Scapegoat -- Any group must already be hated to be an effective scapegoat. The Scapegoat Theory does not then cause Anti-Semitism. Rather, Anti-Semitism is what makes the Jews a convenient scapegoat target. Hitler's rantings and ravings would not be taken seriously if he said, "It's the bicycle riders and the midgets who are destroying our society."
4) Deicide -- a) the Christian Bible says the Romans killed Jesus, though Jews are mentioned as accomplices (claims that Jews killed Jesus came several hundred years later). Why are the accomplices persecuted and there isn't an anti-Roman movement throughout history? b) Jesus himself said, "Forgive them [i.e., the Jews], for they know not what they do." The Second Vatican Council in 1963 officially exonerated the Jews as the killers of Jesus. Neither statement of Christian belief lessened Anti-Semitism.
5) Outsiders -- With the Enlightenment in the late 18th century, many Jews rushed to assimilate. Anti-Semitism should have stopped. Instead, for example, with the Nazis came the cry, in essence: "We hate you, not because you're different, but because you're trying to become like us! We cannot allow you to infect the Aryan race with your inferior genes."
6) Racial Theory -- The overriding problem with this theory is that it is self-contradictory: Jews are not a race. Anyone can become a Jew - and members of every race, creed and color in the world have done so at one time or another.
Every other hated group is hated for a relatively defined reason. We Jews, however, are hated in paradoxes: Jews are hated for being a lazy and inferior race - but also for dominating the economy and taking over the world. We are hated for stubbornly maintaining our separateness - and, when we do assimilate - for posing a threat to racial purity through intermarriages. We are seen as pacifists and as warmongers; as capitalist exploiters and as revolutionary communists; possessed of a Chosen-People mentality, as well as of an inferiority complex. It seems that we just can't win.
Now we know what are NOT the reasons for anti-Semitism. Stay tuned till next week for the reasons for anti-Semitism -- or, if you can't wait, go to http://www.aish.com/sem/wtj (from which much of this material is taken) for the conclusion!
Vayak'hel-Pekudey, Exodus 35:1 - 40:38
Moshe relays the Almighty's commands to refrain from building the Mishkan (the Tabernacle or Portable Sanctuary) on the Shabbat, to contribute items needed to build the Mishkan, to construct the components of the Mishkan and the appurtenances of the Cohanim. The craftsmen are selected, the work begins. The craftsmen report that there are too many donations, and for the first and probably the only time in fundraising history, the Jewish people are told to refrain from bringing additional contributions!
Pekudey includes an accounting of all the materials that went into the making of the Mishkan and details of the construction of the clothing of the Cohanim. The Tabernacle is completed, Moses examines all of the components and gives his approval to the quality and exactness of construction, the Almighty commands to erect the Tabernacle, it's erected and the various vessels are placed in their proper place.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
After being told to anoint his brother Aharon (Aaron), Moshe was told in reference to Aharon's sons:
"And you shall anoint them as you anointed their father" (Exodus 40:15).
Why did the Almighty give Moses this special instruction?
Rabbi Meir Simcha HaCohen explains in his commentary Meshech Hachmah that when Moses was told to anoint his brother Aaron, he was able to do it with a complete heart. Moses, the younger brother, was the leader of the Israelites and was happy that his brother was the High Priest. However, in reference to Aaron's sons, the situation was different. Moses' own sons were not going to succeed him as leaders. So, when it came to anointing Aaron's sons, Moses might have felt envy. Therefore, the Almighty told Moses to anoint Aaron's sons with the same whole heartedness and joy with which he anointed their father.
Our lesson: If even a person as great as Moses needs to internalize attitudes to avoid envy, all the more so do we! Also, it IS possible to feel joy and enthusiasm for another person's success even if he has something that you do not.
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
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No one is born hating another person
because of the color of his skin,
or his background, or his religion.
People must learn to hate,
and if they can learn to hate,
they can be taught to love,
for love comes more naturally to
the human heart than its opposite
-- Nelson Mandela