Anti-Semitism: The Logic of the Illogical

Question

Why is there anti-Semitism? I know it’s not a new phenomenon, but is there any logical reason for it?

4 months

Answers

  1. No, but I will try to offer one. Even though this may sound illogical.

    I was with a secular friend in Jerusalem last Friday afternoon. As we sat in his car in a religious neighborhood, he remarked, “Look at all the people getting ready for Shabbat! So many young families arriving with their young children to visit their parents, with such elegant and elaborate clothing and hats! In my neighborhood everyone is doing his own thing and there is no family or community life like this!” He said that he enjoyed seeing this “scene from 18th century Europe” since it a fond reminder of his dear grandparents. But he admitted that he could understand how others might not be able to relate to this scene. They might see “those people” as haughty, primitive and who-knows-what-else-what — and might harbor negative feelings towards them.

    Is being “different” a logical reason for anti-Semitism? If Jews dress up for Shabbat, eat only Kosher (not always eating others’ food), celebrate a variety of religious holidays and occasions, teach to marry only other members of the “Tribe” — should this cause negative feelings? I don’t know. But even if it’s logical to dislike someone who’s different, should the negative reaction be so extreme and out of proportion? Certainly not.

    And who hasn’t experienced something akin to the following scenario in their lives? As a youngster I was called a “dirty Jew” by neighbors because that’s the way their parents spoke. I asked them why they said such a nasty thing. They said because I killed their deity. I asked them when I did that!

    So, perhaps it’s “logical” for someone else to dislike me being different. But it’s not just “dislike” in some cases. It’s outright hatred. And not always kept inside, but sometimes verbalized or worse. Does this make sense? I am at a loss to explain this phenomenon. Perhaps the real reason is more mystical in nature.

    We are the nation who received the Torah.

    Before presenting the Torah to the Jews, God offered it to all the other peoples of the world. It was up for grabs, yet every nation turned the offer down. They simply weren’t willing to change their lifestyles in order to accommodate the Torah into their daily living.

    When the Jews accepted the Torah, the jealousy of the nations was aroused. “They now have an advantage that we neglected and we can never forgive them for it!”

    We have something that the other nations lack. We were chosen for the task to be God’s “emissaries” to the rest of the world. Exemplary, Torah-true lives should impact not only on us, but on others as well and cause them to draw closer to God.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team