Rarely has someone worked so hard for somebody so ungrateful. Laban owed everything to his nephew Jacob — his wealth, prestige, sons. And yet for 20 years Laban exploited Jacob until G-d intervened.
“Your father-in-law is not well-disposed to you and yet you continue to stay here?” G-d asks. “Return to the land of your fathers and I will be with you.”
When does the stay of a guest turn sour? The Talmud says a visitor is greeted warmly on his arrival, provided with the best food and accommodations. But with each passing day, the conditions worsen and the resentment increases.
Jacob fled his brother Esau and was sent to his mother’s family in Padan Aram. There, he marries Leah and Rachel and builds a family that eventually will become the Jewish nation. At this point, Jacob could have gone home but for some reason he decides that he wants to make his fortune. He hopes to return to Issac a rich man. And so, he spends another six years developing and breeding his flock until it is larger than that of Laban.
The Midrash makes it clear that this was unnecessary. G-d had provided for Jacob when he was penniless, robbed by Esau’s son Eliphaz. So, why was Jacob acting like Ben Cartwright of the American TV series Bonanza?
“Rabbi Ami says in the name of Resh Lakish: ‘Assets achieved outside the Land of Israel contain no blessing.'”
The sages say that Jacob’s life reflects the history of the Jewish people. Like Jacob, they wandered in exile from one country to the next, hopeful of a permanent stay. They brought blessings and prosperity to every society that would host them — Rome, Babylon, Spain, Turkey, Britain, France, the United States and Germany. And just when the Jew thought he had achieved equality — the gentile wanted him out.
“You’ve said, ‘Your portion is in the land of the living,'” G-d says to Jacob. “Return to the land of your fathers. Your father is waiting for you. Your mother is waiting for you. I Myself am waiting for you.”
For nearly 2,000 years, the Jews had no haven. That changed more than 70 years ago, when the United Nations decided to establish a sliver of a state meant to end the Jewish question once and for all. That worried Jewish leaders in the Diaspora. In 1946, the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry [on] Palestine discussed whether a Jewish state would disenfranchise Jews abroad. After all, if the Jew says he needs his own home, then why allow him residency, let alone citizenship, in Britain, France or any other country?
When the Jews achieved their state, the resentment in the West grew. Jewish children would be told by their classmates in British public schools, “You have a state. Why don’t you go there?” In America, prominent Jews were constantly examined for dual loyalty — because you can’t serve two countries at the same time.
In 1951, the CIA helped establish the “American Friends of the Middle East,” identified as a private group that for 16 years lobbied against the Jewish state. The director of the group was Elmer Berger, a reform rabbi who in 1955 called on Jews to assimilate into American life by changing their Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.
Today, things have turned ugly. Jew-hatred is fashionable. Even one of America’s leading comics portrays the Jew as alien, inhuman and vindictive.
“In my movie idea, we find out that these aliens are originally from earth — that they’re from an ancient civilization that achieved interstellar travel and left the earth thousands of years ago,” Dave Chapelle says in his latest television special. “Some other planet they go to, and things go terrible for them on the other planet, so they come back to earth, decide that they want to claim the earth for their very own. It’s a pretty good plotline, huh? I call it ‘Space Jews.'”
Few found Chapelle’s joke funny. But almost nobody made an issue of it. That would have been a lot of different had the name of the movie been “Space Blacks,” “Space Muslims” or “Space Gays.” The reason is that when it comes to Jews, Chapelle represents a consensus.
Jew-hatred binds the political left and right in Western countries. The left uses Israel to delegitimize Jews and the right blames the Jews for everything, including Covid and white genocide. Kevin MacDonald, a former psychology professor who’s read around the world, says the Jews have a genetic impulse to destabilize and dominate their host societies. MacDonald’s solution is similar to that of Hitler in the 1930s.
Meanwhile, the Diaspora Jew tries to cling to his nation’s laws meant to protect his basic rights. And nobody is listening.
“Right now, Jews are in a very precarious and strange position,” Bari Weiss, an author and former New York Times editor, says. “Jews don’t count.”
The hardest thing for the modern Jew to understand is that he’s living in somebody else’s home and is no longer wanted. For too long, Jews have resided in a foreign hotel, however, fine, and now the owner wants the penthouse suite for himself. It’s as simple as that.
The good news is that the Jew already has a home. The caretaker might be nasty. The house needs plenty of repair, not to mention a good cleaning. But it’s ours.
Finally, Jacob gets the message and makes a run for home. With murder in his heart, Laban pursues his son-in-law. But it’s too late. G-d is there to protect the father of Israel. And when Jacob arrives in his land, 600,000 heavenly angels greet him with a dance of joy.
That’s right, Dave. Go make your movie “Space Jews.” Because sooner than you think, the Jew will return to the space G-d gave him.