Shabbat Parashat Terumah| 5765
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Sinai and Sinah (Hatred) - Part I - From Harabbanut Vehamedina pp. 385-7 - “Why is it called, ‘Sinai’? For from it, hatred (sinah) went out to the nations of the world” (Shabbat 89).
Philosophers, writers, and thinkers have pondered the source of the hatred of the nations of the world toward the Jewish people. Some attribute it to the peculiarity that characterizes the Jewish communities in the midst of foreign nations. Some blame it on financial considerations, on the competition with local inhabitants over jobs and resources. Some want to point to a lack of communication with the countries which hosted the Jews and to the nomadic character of our nation. Each theory gave rise to a proposed solution of how to remove the hatred by ceasing to be different in the way that encourages the hatred. Some of the ideas that were proposed are well known to us: enlightenment, blurring of national differences, assimilation, and recently, settling in our own land and establishing a state in it.
However, Chazal with their semi-prophetic abilities, established that the aforementioned factors are not the root causes of anti-Semitism, but are merely external signs to which the hatred finds a place to grab on. The main, indeed the only, cause is ma’amad Har Sinai, the events that transpired at Har Sinai with the giving of the Torah. The fact that we once stood alone before the mountain and heard the words of the Living G-d is that which dug the eternal abyss that separates between us and the nations of the world and bore the never-ending enmity to the eternal nation, which no solution will overcome.
We have now been blessed with an independent state and have regained a normal status among the nations of the world in this regard. Despite that fact, the same gentile child starts up with his neighboring Jewish child as if he killed somebody. He may not know even what he means when he calls the Jew names, but it is a hatred that he, so to speak, received while nursing from his mother. Arab leaders say that their issue is not just refugees who desire repatriation and compensation. Under no circumstances are they willing to recognize the State of Israel.
What is the nature of this endless hatred, and how does it relate to Har Sinai? After all, many nations have benefited from the Book of Books, which we shared with them and is the basis of the faith of many. How can they so hate the nation of the prophets whose words they so respect?
What is even more vexing is the hatred of amei ha’aretz (the ignorant) toward talmidei chachamim. While not as visible or consistent as anti-Semitism, it has always existed in one form or another, as reported by the gemara (Bava Metzia 33b). In modern parlance, we speak of the animosity of the secular community toward the religious. At times, we see blind hatred toward anything that smells of Judaism. If we don’t have enough evidence in the media, we can take the word of R. Akiva who told that before he began learning, he would say: “Give me a talmid chacham, and I will bite him like a donkey” (Pesachim 49b).
Here the wonder is greater. After all, we share brotherhood and nationhood, a joint past and a joint future. Aren’t they aware that our national identity and the connection to fellow Jews all over the world have been preserved through the connection to the beit knesset, our holidays, and everything which is categorized as particularly Jewish? Don’t they realize that the only hope to keep Jewish life alive in the West and in the Soviet Union is through the beit knesset and the beit midrash? Even if someone is not going to keep the halachot as found in the Shulchan Aruch, he should at least be thankful to and respectful of those who observe them and uphold the Jewish values that keep our nation going. Why is there, instead, such contempt and animosity?
Next week, we will see Rav Yisraeli’s answer.
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