War and Peace and Anti-Antisemitism

Question

When Jews escaped to Japanese-controlled Shanghai, China during World War II, why didn’t the Japanese treat the Jews like their German allies did?

, 4 months

Answers

  1. Good question. The Admiralty in Japan actually summoned leaders of the Jewish community and asked them, “Why do the Germans hate you so?”

    One of these leaders, the Amshinover Rebbe, replied in a flash of inspiration: “The Germans hate us because we, like you, are Orientals, and when they finish with us they will turn against you as well!”

    This bit of diplomatic brilliance succeeded in saving the day for the Jewish community in Shanghai, which included hundreds of Mir Yeshiva students.

    But, is that the real answer as to why Jews have been hated throughout a history replete with pogroms, crusades, inquisition and the Holocaust? Is this the real answer for the vilification of the Jewish State defending its right to exist in peace?

    Perhaps the real answer lies in the name of a mountain. A mountain upon which God spoke to an entire nation when He chose the Jewish People to receive the Torah as a guide to be a “light unto the nations” — Mount Sinai.

    Our Talmudic Sages note that the name Sinai corresponds to the Hebrew word “sinah,” which means hatred. When the Jewish nation agreed to receive the Torah it was reminded that there was no way of copping out of its responsibility to be the moral pacesetter for the world. Should it attempt to shirk its responsibility and assimilate as a “nation among nations,” it would not succeed — because the hatred of the other nations would remind the Jewish People of their special nature and unique role.

    “Jews have failed to be accepted as just another nation despite their efforts to abandon their religions,” a wise man once put it, “because you can change your Moses but you can’t change your noses.”

    It has always been our hope that Jews would not require the reminder of sinah and would follow the path of Sinai so that there would be no reason for hatred and the entire world would live in peace.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team