Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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29 Adar II 5763 - April 2, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Antisemitism and the Future Transition of Power

by Rabbi Moshe Young

There are many disguises for antisemitism. We Jews have often been accused of imagining antisemitism in the most innocuous of places. Whenever a Jew is harmed or criticized, and it is labeled as an act of antisemitism, we are immediately pounced upon from many directions to be labeled paranoiac. We are equated with the old saying when the USA used to be suspicious of the Communists, that wherever you were, there were always "reds under the bed."

We might indeed be ultra-sensitive to the glances and innuendos of the outside world, but there is no mistaking today's manifestation of international antisemitism. There is no need any longer to be merely suspicious of ambiguous language or hidden meanings. It is out there in the open.

It is popular to be occupied with Jew-bashing, and it has even earned a place of respectability. There are, however, some who might still retain some vestige of conscience, and instead of openly blaming the Jew for everything, they substitute the State of Israel as the root of all evil. So today we cannot be accused of being paranoiac. It is a reality and so very transparent.

This ongoing and eternal dislike of Jews comes in waves. Sometimes it is violent and at other times subdued. Sometimes it is out in the open while at other times it remains concealed. However, wherever there is a deep feeling of antisemitism, it is in truth a subconscious rebellion against Hashem.

On the verse in Tehillim (79, 1), "Nations have entered your inheritance," the Midrash says that nations really have the intention of fighting Hashem, but they are unable to do so. Instead, they abandon this idea and attack us instead (Midrash Rabboh, Shemos 51. 5), and as Rabbeinu Bachya adds as an analogy, he who cannot smite the lion, smites the donkey.

It is very difficult to envisage any relaxation in the pressure of today's surge of world antisemitism. Unless there is a sudden manifestation of Hashem's kindness, which could indeed happen at any moment, we have to be prepared for antisemitism to continue, and even increase. Our tefillos and an all-round improvement in shemiras hamitzvos and limud Torah will undoubtedly relax any gezeiros. But in the meantime we need to strengthen our emunah by peering into how Chazal saw events unfold and how they mapped out some sort of way through our long exile until the destination of Moshiach which should come speedily in our time,

In a recent advertisement produced by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), in order to stress the inhuman treatment of cattle and fowl, they showed pictures of pigs ready for slaughter next to pictures of emaciated Jews lying on wooden bunks in Nazi concentration camps waiting to die. Apart from making an obscene equivalence between Jews readied for the gas- chambers and animals slaughtered for food, the image of a pig adds an extra obscenity to the comparison.

However, it is by no coincidence that the pig constantly emerges as a symbol which is anathema to Jews. It is not simply that the pig is not kosher. The implication of the pig is much greater. It is the focus of the present Golus, and while it represents much suffering to Jews, it also presents an image of hope for the redemption of Klal Yisroel and freedom for the whole world.

The pig is one of the four animals mentioned in the Torah (Parshios Shemini and Re'ei) which are not kosher although each possesses one physical sign of kashrus. Each of the first three, the camel, the shofon and the hare, chew their cud but do not have split hoofs. The pig, on the other hand, does not chew their cud, but it has split hoofs.

These four animals symbolize the four exiles and four concepts of civilization through which Jews have passed, and in which we experienced uncertainty and discomfort. The exiles are that of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Edom. These exiles also test the level of trust we have in Hashem and to what extent we are influenced by our host nation and how much we resist anti-Torah temptations. We have been living in the exile of Edom for almost two thousand years since the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdosh by Rome which is Edom.

The Midrash gives the reason why Edom is compared to the pig. The Hebrew for pig is chazir. The word comes from the root which means returning. The last exile is the one which will return kingship to Yisroel, Shemachzeres atoroh leve'oleho, "it will return the crown to its rightful owners" (Vayikro Rabbah 13. 1).

Only through what Edom stands for can there be a smooth transition for Yisroel as we move from the era of Edom to the era of Moshiach. With no other exile would such a transition be so effective. HaRav Yitzchok Hutner zt"l, following the analysis of the Maharal (Ner Mitzvah) explains this as follows (Pachad Yitzchok, Purim, Inyan 16).

Each exile represents a specific outlook in life. Edom represents the concept of power over others. The essence of Edom is encapsulated within the words of Yitzchok Ovinu when he said in his blessing to Eisov, "al charbecho sichyeh, you shall live by the sword." Contentment and fulfilled ambition can only be achieved by him when others have been vanquished. This is a total manifestation of a desire to control and the belief that everyone is beneath them.

There is also a different sort of ga'avoh. That is the ga'avoh of Hashem, as we say in the pizmon, Ho'aderes veho'emunah, that Hashem has the ga'avoh and the geduloh. Ga'avoh here means that it is only Hashem who has ultimate power and who really does control everything and is indeed above everyone and everything. Hashem is, so to speak, clothed in the glory of this ga'avoh, as we say, "Hashem moloch gei'us lovesh (Tehillim 93. 1), Hashem rules; He clothes Himself with excellence."

So when a person assumes an air of ga'avoh, he "pushes away the "legs" of the Shechinoh and steals glory and excellence away from Hashem, and when he believes that he himself controls others.

Yisroel and the Torah represent the Excellence of Hashem.

So we can now understand why the kingdom of Edom must be the exile which precedes the Moshiach and the kingdom of Dovid, melech Yisroel. The transition from one to the other, the machzeres atoroh leve'oleho hinted in the word chazir, will be a smooth one. The world will experience the return of international acceptance of the Glory of Hashem by adjusting and adapting its own personal and arrogant disposition which seeks control over others. In place of their personal sense of power, all will acknowledge that absolute power is Hashem's only.

We can see with our own eyes how countries today vie with each other over who has the greatest power, who has the greatest influence and who calls the tune. So the world has certainly become used to the idea that might is right. The world has the notion of power flowing through its veins. It is, therefore, so much easier for the world to accept the concept of overall power and control.

In this, the world is prepared. It will appreciate Malchus Shomayim when it comes. The whole world will recognize that all previous manifestations of power produced nothing but suffering for mankind.

So the new power, the Power of Hashem, will be easily recognized and accepted by all. Then the words of the prophet Ovadiah heralding the end of antisemitism, will be fulfilled, "The saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge Esav's mountain, and the Kingdom will be Hashem's." It should happen soon.

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