Dear Jew in the City-
I have read your blog many times and usually I enjoy it. I am very disturbed by one post in particular: Dirty, Money Grabbing Parasitic Vermin: Anti-Semitism Is Alive And Well. I am more disturbed by the passage from Deuteronomy than by the baseball loving Jew hater. As a Jew from Ukraine, I have seen this hell and the curse upon the Jewish people. I don’t however see the lighter side as you seem to. If this is the infinite destiny of the Jewish people then there is no point to follow the laws and keep mitzvot. This curse may last forever even in your opinion. Even in Israel we have no peace. The waiting has become boring after over 3000 years. We have been stood up by our date and it’s time to face the sad fact. He isn’t coming. Having been stood up by men in the past, I’m familiar with the disappointment. You’ll get over it and find another date. My mother told me not to expect too much from a man and not to expect him to save me from my life. Perhaps we expect too much from Moshiach and knowing that he will disappoint, he just decided its better to stand us up than disappoint us in the future?
I’m sorry that this post was upsetting for you. I am fortunate to have not experienced the same level of anti-semitism that you have, and when I got this message from that woman, I felt that instead of erasing it and getting intimidated by it, I would put it out there for everyone to see in order to teach some Torah and show that her words weren’t going to send me into hiding. I used my humor to cut her venom.
In terms of your saying, “If this is the infinite destiny of the Jewish people then there is no point to follow the laws and keep mitzvot,” you’re actually incorrect on two counts: 1) this curse is not meant to last forever and 2) the exact thing that put us into galus (exile) and got us into the mess of 2,000 years of wandering and anti-semitism was that we left the mitzvot. Our nation, as a whole, is very disconnected from our heritage. We’ve forgotten who we are and where we come from, and God warns us in the Torah – much like a parent would do with his children - there are certain consequences to our actions. Also, although we have a state of Israel today, it is still considered the “exile” version of Israel, not the Messianic one – hence the lack of peace.
I know that you are “more disturbed by the passage from Deuteronomy than by the baseball loving Jew hater,” but the passage in Deuteronomy, I believe, is actually a comforting one. Here’s why: when I saw that woman’s message, how she was “waiting” for her next chance to get us, it reminded me of one of the curses of exile that’s discussed in the Torah and when I found it, I realized that this curse, which was written about over 3000 years ago, was happening right before my very eyes.
One of our greatest sages, Rabbi Akiva, saw a curse in the Torah happen right before his eyes too and seeing it play out gave him comfort: there’s a story in the Talmud that talks about the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdash (holy Temple) and how when Rabbi Akiva was at the scene of the destruction, he saw a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies – a place in the Temple that was so sacred, that no person (except for the high priest on Yom Kippur) could traverse, lest he die by a heavenly hand!
Upon seeing the fox, Rabbi Akiva began to laugh. When the other rabbis he was with asked him why he was laughing instead of crying, he explained that there were two prophecies in the Torah concerning the Temple – the first was that the Temple would be destroyed and the second was that the Temple would be rebuilt. Rabbi Akiva said that before then, he didn’t know if the first prophecy was actually going to come true, but now that it did, he knew the second prophecy would happen as well.
So, for me, seeing that the exile is playing out according to our tradition, it gives me hope that the redemption will as well.
I know it’s been a long time waiting, but just because human beings stand people up, doesn’t mean that God’s ultimate plan is “standing us up” too. As I mentioned in my post, the key to better times according to Jewish thought is acts of kindness and connecting back to Judaism. If you look at it that way – we don’t have to helplessly wait for someone to save us – we have the chance to bring the goodness about with our own actions.
All the best,