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Why Do They Hate Us?

Why is Anti-Semitism so prevalent? Why has hatred of the Jews accompanied us throughout history and until the very present?

Apparently, there is something special about the Jewish People. Something unusual – unique, perhaps even frightening and threatening. That is actually what Haman said: There is one nation…and their religion is different than all other nations.” They are different and strange.

What really made Haman lose his composure was one stubborn Jew. “And Mordechai would not kneel and he would not bow.” What would have been so terrible if Mordechai had bowed to Haman? It is not a clear-cut case of idol worship. It would certainly have been possible to find excuses for him to follow suit with everyone else and bow before Haman. And even if he didn’t want to bow down to Haman, he could have just discreetly avoided meeting him. Mordechai, however, made sure that everyone saw him. He intentionally walked around Shushan with his beard and tzitzit, his Jewish garb and Jewish customs. It was quite a provocation.

It seems that the Jewish People are hated because of the religious folk among them. The sages say that Mount Sinai was thus called because it is the reason that hatred (sinah, similar to Sinai) of the Jews descended to the world. At Mount Sinai, God chose the Jewish People from amongst all the nations and gave us the Torah. Now we are different and strange – a stepson who doesn’t manage to fit into the family of nations.

What is the solution? After all, we have free choice. What would happen if we would shave off our beards and remove our tzitzit? If we would stop clinging to our ancient customs? Maybe we should show everyone that all-in-all, we are just regular folks like everyone else. Ahashverosh already opened the doors of his palace to everyone – including the Jews. There was plenty of alcohol there and good music. Maybe we should just try to fit in with the rest of the crowd? What is so terrible about that?

It turns out that it doesn’t work. Mordechai has already gotten all the Jews tangled up in this identity mess. Now Haman is blinded with fury and he wishes to destroy all the Jews, Mordechai’s nation. We cannot convince anyone that we are actually normal. ‘I know you,’ says Haman. ‘All of you belong to Mordechai’s nation. Inside of every Jew, I see a rebellious Mordechai.’ This led Haman to his ‘final solution.’ It is exactly what the Nazis attempted to do eighty years ago.

Haman was right. There really is a small Mordechai in every Jew. As much as a Jew might attempt to disengage from the signs of his Jewish identity, to deny his heritage and turn his back on his family traditions – he will remain a Jew. He has a sturdy core, something inside that will not kneel and not bow down. If we cannot rid ourselves of Jewish uniqueness, we might as well celebrate it and fill ourselves with Jewish pride in our unique heritage.

That is not all. Jews are hated not only because they are different and have the Torah and its commandments. A person who is different than everyone does not generally arouse such deep hatred.

At Mount Sinai, “hatred descended to the nations” because they did not join us! God offered them the Torah and they didn’t want it! From this, we see that there is something in the Torah that is relevant to all humanity. The nations hate the Jews because we remind them that they have a long way to go. The Torah of Moses is still waiting for the nations of the world. It beckons them to come and taste the truth and faith in God, to become familiar with the Creator and all that He bestows upon us.

 

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