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Dovid Vigler

Jews Are Never, Ever Victims!

Image source: https://youtu.be/i-etVw9PZUs

How the Lubavitcher Rebbe turned around a powerful anti-Semite

The weeks prior to Passover are deeply traumatic for us Jews. Since the year 1144, Christians have accused the Jews of slaughtering Christian children and baking their blood into our Matzah. This preposterous claim is not only baseless, it’s actually absurd, since we Jews are forbidden to consume blood of any kind—we will even dispose of a chicken egg with a mere blood spot in it! Sadly, facts rarely came into consideration as hundreds of thousands of Jews were massacred for nearly a millennium of unfettered ignorance and shameless hate in Europe.

After the most recent blood libel took place in September of 1928 in Messina, NY, we thought we were out of the woods. The world had finally come to its senses. In a progressive world and enlightened times, we never dreamed that we could ever again be accused of slaughtering gentile children for religious reasons. Yet incredulously, after we were brutally attacked, massacred, raped, burned, tortured, maimed, and kidnapped on October 7, 2023, it is once again us—the Jews—whom the world is accusing of genocide in Gaza. This is the largest blood libel in the history of the world where the Jews are being accused of killing tens of thousands of Arab children, as well as adults, for no apparent reason and deliberately starving millions to death!

The senselessness of this accusation is staggering. Since October 7th, Israel has sent 234,000 tons of food to Gaza, according to the American Jewish Committee. According to the UN World Food Program, it would take 4287 tons of food to feed the 2.2 million residents of Gaza for a week. This means that Israel has already provided double the amount of food needed to feed all the residents of Gaza, yet, inexplicably, Israel is being accused of deliberately starving the population.

It’s no secret that we Jews are feeling more isolated today than ever before. How are we to react to the nations of the world that accuse us of such absurd claims? I’d like to share with you some refreshing and inspiring wisdom from the Torah on navigating these difficult times.

Our natural reflex is to name, blame, and shame each anti-Semite as soon as they come out of the closet with their hateful rhetoric and senseless demands of Israel and the Jewish People. But this doesn’t seem to work that well as we’ve discovered more anti-Semites than we can even keep track of in a global case of whack a mole.

When it comes to irrational anti-Semitism, the Talmud (Megillah 14a) compares the hatred to “a ditch in a field.” On Purim 1965, the Rebbe explained this strange analogy to mean that the reason they hate us is because Jews make anti-Semites feel empty, hollow, and insecure. Knowing that the Jews are G-d’s Chosen People, makes them uncomfortable about their own importance and hence they seek ways to discriminate against the Jews and destroy their Jewish problem.

Hence, the Rebbe endeavored to highlight the unique role that every human being plays in G-d’s world. Not only the Jewish People are precious to G-d—every single human being is created by G-d and plays a critical role in the universe. In this way, the Rebbe sought to successfully eliminate the source of the hatred against the Jews at its core—by allowing the potential hater to see their own value and self-worth. This approach applies only to political anti-Semites, but when facing an existential threat, it’s critical for us to apply overwhelming force to deter those who try to destroy us.

Watch how the Rebbe spoke to NY Mayor David Dinkins around the time of the Crown Heights riots in 1991, click here: https://youtu.be/i-etVw9PZUs (Mayor David Dinkins Meets The Rebbe | JEM – The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

Instead of reacting to anti-Semites with fear, we are making a choice to react to them within the context of faith. I know that this is out-of-the-box thinking. But one thing we know for sure—any attempts we’ve made so far to neutralize anti-Semites have failed. So it’s time to try listening to what the Torah has been telling us all along.

Senator Jesse Helms was a powerful critic of Israel. When, in 1984, he was honored at a reception by Chabad in Washington, Professor Alan Dershowitz wrote a letter to the Rebbe respectfully protesting this honoree. The Rebbe’s response is enlightening and empowers us in our times today as well:

“…I trust you will agree that in regard to persons of influence, whether in Washington or elsewhere, the first objective should be to persuade and encourage such a person to use his influence in a positive way on behalf of any and all good causes which are important to us. We should welcome every public appearance that lends public support to the cause, especially when there is a likelihood that it may be the forerunner of similar pronouncements in the future….

My experience with such people — though I have never personally met the said person — has convinced me that politicians are generally motivated more by expediency than by conviction. In other words, their public pronouncements on various issues do not stem from categorical principles or religious imperatives. Hence, most of them, if not all, are subject to change in their positions, depending on time, place, and other factors.

I believe, therefore, that the proper approach to such persons by Jewish leaders should not be rigid. As a rule, it does no good to engage in a cold war, which may often turn into a hot war; nor does it serve any useful purpose to brand one as an “enemy” or an “antisemite,” however tempting it is to do so even if that person vehemently denies it. It can only be counter-productive. On the contrary, ways and means should be found to persuade such a person to take a favorable stance, at least publicly. We haven’t too many friends, and attaching labels, etc. will not gain us any.”

Sure enough, very soon after he was honored, Senator Jesse Helms became one of the strongest supporters of Israel and the causes of the Jewish People.

Fear is the worst response to anti-Semitism. Strength and faith are critical for our nation’s success right now. It’s time we stop behaving like victims and take control to make a real difference for a lasting impact.

_______________________
Rabbi Dovid Vigler
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens

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About the Author
Raised in South Africa and educated in some of the finest Yeshivas in Israel, England, New York, and Australia, Rabbi Dovid Vigler strives to share the beauty and depth of Judaism in a clear, conversational, and down-to-earth manner. Whether in private counseling, relatable sermons, weekly email broadcasts, or in his popular Torah classes on social media, he reaches out to every Jew with unconditional love, patience, and compassion. His inspirational talks and uplifting messages can be found on YouTube.com/JewishGardens and Facebook.com/JewishGardens
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