Kedoshim (Leviticus 19-20 )
GOOD MORNING! After the shooting at the Poway Synagogue in California many people have asked, "Rabbi, why do people hate the Jews?" "Why do they want to kill us?" We are seeing an ever-increasing number of anti-Semitic hate crimes. I decided to share with you a two-part article that I published 2 years ago.
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 strove to assimilate. 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 marathon runners 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!
Kedoshim, Leviticus 19:1 - 20:27
This is the portion that invokes the Jewish people to be holy! It then proceeds with the spiritual directions on how to achieve holiness, closeness to the Almighty. Within it lie the secrets and the prescription for Jewish continuity. If any group of people is to survive as an entity, it must have common values and goals -- a direction and a meaning. By analyzing this portion we can learn much about our personal and national destiny. It is truly a "must read!"
Some of the mitzvot (commandments): Revere your parents, observe Shabbat, no idol worship, gifts to the poor, deal honestly, love your fellow Jew, refrain from immoral sexual relationships, honor old people, love the proselyte, don't engage in sorcery or superstition, do not pervert justice, observe kashruth and more. The portion ends, "You shall observe all My decrees and ordinances ... you shall be holy ... I have separated you from the peoples to be Mine."
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"Love your fellow man as yourself, I am the Almighty" (Leviticus 19:18).
Why is the commandment to love our fellow human being followed by the words "I am the Almighty"?
The great rabbi, the Chasam Sofer, clarifies that while the commandment to love our fellow man is a concept that anyone can relate to with his own intellect, the Torah tells us to love our fellow man because it is the Almighty's will.
If your love of other people is based only on your own feelings, there could easily be a lack of consistency. One day you might feel positive towards someone and on the next day your feelings can change. However, the Torah states that the Almighty commands us to love others. We need to develop positive attitudes towards others by focusing on their virtues whether it comes easily to us or whether it is difficult.
Everyone thinks that it is a good idea to love your neighbor, but how can the Almighty command us to love our neighbor? Some of us have neighbors who are awfully hard to appreciate! However, if the Almighty commands it, it must be possible. If you ask a pregnant woman if she will love her baby, she'll look at you like you're nuts and say "Of course!" Then you can ask her, "How do you know? Maybe he'll be like your neighbor!"
A pregnant mother knows she will love her baby because she will make it her business to love that baby. And what if the baby grows up to be an irresponsible teenager flunking out of school who doesn't make his bed? She'll still love him! How? She focuses on his good points! "He has a good heart! He's got a sweet personality! He helps when I ask him to." If we make a list of someone's positive traits and focus on them, we can generate a good feeling towards them.
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
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I don't think of all the misery,
but of the beauty that still remains
-- Anne Frank