March 11, 2000
"On a Platform with the
"Thou shall not hate thy brother in thy heart." (Vayikra 19:17) Hatred leads to madness, most especially when one obsesses with it to the point when it becomes pathological. "Rabba the son of Huna said, he who angers even the presence of Hashem is unimportant in his eyes. . . Rabbi Jeremiah of Difti said, he forgets his learning and becomes even more stupid." (Nedarim 22b)
Twenty thousand people gathered for a special occasion in Chicago, Illinois. Louis Farrakkhans "Nation of Islam" rejoined the Black Muslim Movement, and Farrakkhan claims the reunification of movements is a result of his recent bout with cancer. He now claims to be a changed person and thus making peace with the organization where he found Islam. The gathering was for Islamic believers. Under Wallace Mohammed, the son of the Black Muslim founder Elijah, the movement became relatively moderate and did not espouse hate for Jews. It was hoped that Farrakkhan would follow this path. What happened instead was exacerbating. . . it is not what either Islamic leaders said from their unity platform. But a venomous hate from, of all places, the mouths of people who appeared to be frum Jews, shocked both Jews and non-Jews.
And these Jews defended Farrakkhans having called Judaism a "gutter religion." Zionism, a Jewish speaker asserted, and not Judaism, is bad. He said the Holocaust was G-ds punishment of the Jews for Zionism, and Farrakkhans praise for Hitler was for his economic policies. Such venom and outrage. These disgusting lies are inexcusable, and it helps little to attribute their source to a small and insignificant fringe of Orthodoxy. Too many fine and noble Torah people share similar views, and far too many innocent young Jews are taught to believe this. More significant is the lack of rage and protest from the Torah world against those who attended this rally and dared to publicly speak and bring shame upon the memories of six million innocent victims and the rest of us who survived the most heinous crimes in the annals of human history.
Silence is tantamount to agreement. This same sick obsessive hatred filled the air of many communities before the Holocaust. And if that calamitous event was a punishment, would it not more likely have been the result of gratuitous hatred among Jews just as it was the reason for the destruction of the second Bet Hamikdash. Friends, its time to do teshuva and time for Torah leaders representing all of our diverse views to speak as one against all forms of hateful expression. We cannot put an end to antiSemitism, but we must exclude those from our Jewish peoplehood who would dare give solace and verbal support to hate mongers.
I understand the agony of those Jews whose parents, grandparents and previous generations who lived in the hallowed confines of Old Jerusalem. They struggled with great resolve, never diminishing their piety. For them, the emergence of a secular Zionist state and the concomitant religious problems presented a serious threat to their way of life. I do not agree with their views, but am sensitive to their feelings. So they dont support the State of Israel? But for todays English-speaking Americans in Israel to spew pathological hate against all those including devoutly religious supporters and participants in Israels political process is totally unconscionable. At the very least, it is counter-productive. It also smacks of ingratitude since Zionist blood, taxes and donations make it possible for most religious Jews to study Torah to make Eretz Israel their home. (And may they increase.)
Worse yet, to stand before professed anti-Semites and to declare Judaism to be a humble religion, implying that we are prepared to accept abuse, treachery and the murder of our men, women and children shows no limit to their hate. And as our sages said, it is sheer stupidity as well. Minimally, we must demand they desist from this noxious, dangerous behavior.
Even worse yet, this rhetoric is only fodder for those who, heaven forbid, want to eliminate Israels Hareidi society by demanding that yeshiva students be drafted and government support for Torah learning diminished or eliminated. In the eyes of the vast majority of American and Israeli Jews, people in Hasidic garb on a platform with professed scurrilous Jew-haters falsely paints all good and frum Jews as traitors and idiots.
"Go and gather the Jews," and do so with love, gifts of food and friendship. . .the essential mitzvot of Purim. All the rationalizations and pseudo-justifications for hate are lethal weapons to the arsenals of Hamans descendants still determined to fulfill the old Jew-haters scheme. Lets stamp out Haman on the outside and his venom from within.