Now that anti-Semitism has not only reared its ugly head but shown its sharp teeth as well, Jews in the U.S. are once again parsing statistics to determine whether attacks against the Jewish community are actually on the rise or not. Leftists accuse Trump of “making America hate again,” but no matter how you interpret the numbers, anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred in the book.
Literally. This week’s Torah portion sets out the diametric between Jacob and Esau. There is not a single open, unguarded, sanguine moment between them, only animosity, suspicion, and at best, cautious cordiality. Esau’s hatred for Jacob is not borne of any incident – not the sale of Esau’s birthright nor Jacob’s ruse to receive their father’s choice blessing – but is Divinely ordained. It plays out already in their mother’s womb, where the two battle for place but are in fact already embodying the opposing nations they would become.
This story is not news to anyone. But how remarkable the timing of the parsha reading in light of recent events — and what an important reminder of a truth some would rather ignore.
No civil society should let anti-Semitic acts go unchecked. Governments must protect us and prosecute offenders. Shows of solidarity and support are admirable and appreciated. But the goal of erasing hate, as many have called for since the Pittsburgh massacre, is unrealistic. The world – or rather, a large number of people in it – hate Jews. In different measures, with varying levels of awareness, and a host of manifestations across the covert-overt spectrum, they have always hated us and will continue to hate us until the ultimate redemption. This hatred did not begin in 1948 or 1967. It has nothing to do with Hollywood or banks or the blood of Christian children. It is as old as the wind. It is the way of the world G-d created.
Trying to change the minds or hearts of those who hate us is a waste of time and resources. Better to try to increase the light in the world by holding up the banner of our faith, cultivating goodness in our children, and treating others with respect without compromising truth. Those are endeavors with endless potential.
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