OU Torah Insights Project
One of my children's favorite jokes is the story of two bees flying side-by-side. One bee noticed that the other was wearing a yarmulke. Surprised, the first bee asked, "Why are you wearing a yarmulke?"
"Because we're flying
out of the neighborhood, the second bee replied, and I don't want
anyone to think that I'm a WASP."
A more serious presentation
of anti-Semitism greets us at the beginning of Parshat Balak. "Balak,
the son of Tzipor, saw all that Israel had done to Emori. Two verses
later, Balak is identified as the king of Moav. Why does the Torah identify
him initially as the son of Tzipor rather than with his more
impressive title of king of Moav?
Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, ztl,
explains that this introduction to Balak tells the chronology of his
ascension to the throne of Moav. Balak
was not yet king when he observed all that Israel had done to Emori.
Once he perceived the threat that Moav faced from Bnei
Yisrael, Balak warned the Moavites, who rallied around him and made him
This places Balak as one of
the earliest of the many demagogues throughout history who came to power by
blaming the Jews for their nations woes, and uniting the people around
their promise to destroy Bnei Yisrael.
Times change, but the
approach of our enemies remain the same.
A quote from the Hamas web site states: There has been nothing but
destruction and war since 1948 when the Zionist cancer first appeared in the
heart of the Muslim world. The Palestinian people are still suffering from
the international racist conspiracy to destroy the Muslim world and rob its
Complex problems often have
complex solutions. Fortunately, the Torah provides us with an elementary
approach in dealing with the Longest Hatred. Behold it is a nation
that dwells alone and is not counted among the other nations, Bilam
observed. Bilam realized, the Beit
Halevi notes, that Klal Yisrael can
only exist as a nation if it does not assimilate with the other nations.
Behold it is a nation
that dwells aloneonly alone will it continue to dwell and exist.
However, among the other nationsif it attempts to
assimilateit is not counted.
When Jews attempt to become like everyone else, we don't gain
their respect. To the contrary, we are looked down upon and reviled.
Torah-committed lives will only strengthen our connection to, and our
blessings from, the Ribono Shel Olam.
Rabbi Ze'ev Smason
Smason is rabbi of Nusach Hari Bnai Zion Congregation in St. Louis, Missouri.