Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Why They Hate Us

Rabbi Jay M. Stein on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

At first, the nations of the world resented and hated the Israelites because their ways of worship were different from the nations and at a higher level.  Even when the people Israel tried to imitate gentile practices, though their enemies continued to resent them.  (Etz Hayim p. 919)

In what is surely going to be one of the most important books on Judaism in the next decade, Bernard Henri Levi describes the rise of a new form of anti-Semitism.  In The Genius of Judaism, Levi maintains that the only way to be efficiently anti-Semitic is to be anti-Zionist, to disguise the hate of the Jews under the umbrella of hate for Israel.  In this latest attempt to explain anti-semitism, he simply says it has a new form but the same hatred continues.   

The context of the above quote is a moment in the Torah when the Hebrews were beginning to assimilate into the world around them.  Then, a nation on their own, not yet inhabiting their own land, the Hebrews began to practice religion as their neighbors did.  This prompts the age old discussion of why do they hate us so?  When we are different, they hate us.  When we are like them, they hate us.

Hatred is about "the other."  When we see people who are different from ourselves, "the other,"often, threatening fear grips us.  That fear then turns into hate. The only thing that can transform fear into friendship is conversation, curiosity and discovery.   Until we all find the courage to understand “the other”, we will all be locked in this maelstrom of hate..  Assimilation is not the answer.