Eliezer Zalmanov

The Jews Make No Sense

Students at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, display their Jewish pride at the Chabad House, across from pro-Hamas encampment. (image courtesy of author)

The scenes of antisemitic protests taking over elite college campuses around the country must give us pause. They are reminiscent of what our people experienced in the not-so-distant past, with words being used and slogans being shouted that make these campuses sound eerily like 1930s Germany and Poland or 17th Century Ukraine. This has to serve as a wake up call to every Jew around the world, that although the modern world has advanced in so many ways over the last century, certain things never change — chief among them being the deep-rooted hatred for Jews that no modernity can ever wipe away.

No congressional bill to redefine antisemitism will make this go away. Outlawing various words and expressions is nothing more than a band aid on a generations-long malady that will not be eradicated by feel-good political posturing. “I guess I can’t say hateful things about Jews now that it’s illegal,” said no antisemite ever. So while it’s heartening to see many of our elected officials continue to have our backs in these taxing times, we must also remember that at the end of the day, the Jewish nation stands alone. Not just Israel as a state stands alone, but every single Jew around the world must be constantly reminded that relying on anyone other than ourselves will be to our detriment.

Sure, we need to get along with our friends and neighbors, vote in elections to show our collective strength, and in general be productive members of society. But we can never assume that just because we’ve been integrated that antisemitism is gone. It will always be something that we have to contend with, so instead of approaching it as something that can be controlled by proclamations and legislation, we need to do what has always proven to be the key to Jews outliving their haters: Be more Jewish!

They want us to cower and be ashamed of who we are, but history has proven that they were wrong then and they are wrong now. Hiding our Jewish identity is simply not what we do; we stand proud of being Jewish and no antisemite in the world will ever change that. No occupation of college campuses or blocking roads to airports will change the tune of Jewish survival.

The pride of the Jewish people is our connection to G-d and to Torah. This connection has always transcended logic, since our observance of G-d’s laws has nothing to do with what makes sense and is everything about rising above. Where the world and logic expects us to go one way, Torah dictates that we go in the exact opposite direction. Where society generally only follows logic and rationality, we follow the laws of a Higher Being who guides every aspect of our lives.

In fact, even those laws of the Torah that do have logical grounds, such as the laws of ethics and morality, are observed because G-d said so and not because they make sense to us. That’s what sets us apart from any other society that follows a preordained set of rules. We avoid stealing, murder, and eating pork all for the same reason — because that’s how G-d expects us to behave, whether it makes sense to us or not.

So of course, we will also never be subjugated to the laws of rationale, which expect us to be less Jewish in the face of adversity, or at least until “this wave” passes. Logic would dictate to keep a low profile, yet as Jews we refuse to do so. This wave won’t pass, but we will pass it and leave it in our dust.

We will stand up to any and all forms of Jew hatred, we will not resign in the face of adversity, and as always, we will come out inexplicably stronger on the other side!

Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov and his wife Chanie co-direct Chabad of Northwest Indiana. They are the proud parents of seven children, ages 6 to 20.

About the Author
Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov is co-director, along with his wife Chanie, of Chabad of Northwest Indiana. He is also a member of's Ask the Rabbi and social media teams.
Related Topics
Related Posts