No More Burning Holy Books

Credit Photo: cottonbro studio via

Wow, what a week it has been with the threat in Sweden by an activist to burn the holy Torah this weekend.

After prior burnings of the Quran in Sweden, permission was granted for a new protest where the activists planned to now burn the Torah and Christian Bible as well. Stockholm police approved the public demonstration, saying:

[We] do not give permission for different actions. We give permission to hold a public meeting! That’s an important difference.

But in essence, they were giving permission for the burning of holy scrolls and books by allowing the demonstration to take place. They were willing to look aside and express indifference to the blasphemous acts that were to occur.

At the very least, even if the Swedes were granting permission for the demonstration, they should have had the moral decency to condemn the actions of burning the holy books and then work to change the legal system to prevent this from happening in the future. But the truth is that they just don’t seem to care.

As the Rabbi quoted Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel in synagogue today:

The opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference.

And the Rabbi explained that at least when someone hates, they still express a connection to the other person, even if it is negative, but when someone is indifferent, they basically just don’t care at all!

As I thought this week about the indifference of burning holy books, I remembered Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) in Germany on November 9–10, 1938, when the Germans went on a massive pogrom killing Jews, burning Synagogues and the holy Torahs, destroying Jewish businesses, schools, and cemeteries, and the German authorities looked on with outward indifference and likely with inner glee. This was the prelude to the Holocaust, which literally means destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially by fire.

And of course, we know what happened to Germany in losing World War II; now it was Germany’s turn to burn and face not only utter defeat but outright destruction.

From this, I had a clear image in my mind’s eye of the Torah, G-d forbid, being burned in Sweden this weekend, like in Germany of yesteryear. I saw the fires burning ever so hot and the flames rising higher and higher, and at the tips of the flames were the letters of burning Torah scrolls being carried up amidst the burning ashes into the heavens.

I knew then and there that if this unG-dly event were to occur, then the fate of Sweden would be sealed, similar to that of Germany prior, but of course, on a scale equal to the misdeed at hand (obviously, this isn’t anything like another Holocaust). But I saw Stockholm burning, and each letter of the burned Torah would represent a moment of Divine retribution that would occur there.

There is a saying that I think applies very well here:

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

And in this case, just because the police gave permission for this vile demonstration doesn’t mean that it should actually go ahead and happen. And it was a miracle that the burning was actually called off, with the activist saying:

I want to show that we have to respect each other, we live in the same society. If I burn the Torah, another the Bible, another the Quran, there will be war here. What I wanted to show is that it’s not right to do it.

Thank G-d, crisis was averted for the Holy Torah this time, but unfortunately, it can happen again. Sweden and all civilized nations have a responsibility to protect holy artifacts and respect all people. Finally, my conscience tells me that Heaven does not suffer fools, whether they are being indifferent or hateful, and whether they think they can get away with it or not.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is a dynamic, award-winning leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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