Last week we began a new phase in the Torah with Sefer Shmot and Parashat Shmot. This Parasha marks the start of the epic saga of our people’s slavery and redemption in Egypt. While there is much to talk about in such an important part of our Torah, I actually want to start off on a darker note.
This past Friday we were all shocked and deeply saddened to hear that four of our French Jewish brothers were murdered in Paris. A French born Muslim terrorist killed our brothers in a kosher supermarket right before Shabbat started. Seventy years after the Holocaust ended and once again Jewish blood is spilled on the streets of Europe. Our prayers and thoughts are with the families of the murdered and we know that they have now risen to be with Hashem. And yet even through these brutal killings, we can see a parallel to the Parasha.
At the begginging of the Parasha we hear Pharaoh give his speech about why the Jews have become a problem and must be dealt with. Pharaoh says that the Jews have grown large in number and will take over Egypt if they aren’t stopped. But something seems off here to me. Why would Pharaoh, the emperor of what was the strongest empire in the world be worried about a large number of Jews in his country? The Egyptian army that had defeated professional armies before surely would have no problem putting down a rebellion from a bunch of shepherds. It wasn’t like Pharaoh actually felt threatened by the Jews; they didn’t pose a real problem to him and as a matter of fact that they had never caused him any trouble before. So why these rash actions?
I believe the answer lies in one word. Jealousy. It is an emotion so powerful and potent that it drives human beings to kill each other like animals. Why did Pharaoh hate the Jews so much then, as many Muslims, Arabs and others in the world hate us today? He was jealous of them. He was jealous that we had a powerful, legitimate and organized religion with the one true Hashem that we can stand behind, not some statue or cow. He was jealous at how successful the Jews were at working the land. But most of all, he was jealous of the fact that the Jewish people were just better people — they scorned violence and killing, and they held life, charity and kindness to the highest levels.
Fast-forward to today and the question remains, why do so many people hate Jews? Why do so many people hate Israel? Again, I believe the answer lies in one simple word; jealousy. Jealousy at how we have succeeded everywhere we have gone. Jealousy at our religion, and of the fact that we have no doubts about who we are and who HaKadosh Barechu is. But most of all, jealousy at the fact that they we cannot be eradicated. Many have tried but they simply can’t make us go away. They tried with the Inquisition, they tried with the Crusades, they tried with the Holocaust and they try today with Jihad. And yet every single time we emerge from the ashes stronger then before, we do not sulk into the night, we do not dim our lights. Instead we grow brighter.
French Jews were attacked and killed by French Muslims just like Jewish Egyptians were attacked and killed by Pharaoh’s Egyptians. We are attacked because our religion teaches us to love and not to hate. We are attacked because the world can’t stand the fact that we have the audacity to defy them and come out on top every single time. The animals who killed our brothers and sisters in France and who attack Israel and Jews worldwide every day don’t attack us because they are, “avenging the Prophet” or responding to a satirical cartoon. They do it because they hate Jews and because they are jealous. Certainly they make up excuses like BDS and being “anti-Israel and Zionist” just like Pharaoh made up excuses like, “the Jewish shepherds are too much of a military threat to the most powerful empire in the world.” But deep down we know what it is, we know that inside Pharaoh’s soulless body and these people’s dark hearts lives a never-ending hatred of Jews driven by jealousy.
Many Jews wonder, “what can we do to fight this hate and jealousy?” I believe we must do what we always have done but even louder and stronger. We must be as proud as ever to be a Jew and not be afraid. We mustn’t try to appease our enemies like France does, or pretend we are something we are not. We must wear our kippot proudly, wear them outside, and wear them on planes and trains and in supermarkets and on the streets. We must show the world that we aren’t going away — ever. We must show our enemies that they will never be able to bring us down with bullets and hatred. We have been around for thousands of years and we will be around for thousands more. We need only to put our faith in HaKadosh Barechu, be strong and never be ashamed to be a Jew. We MUST do this.