[AUTHOR'S NOTE: My next post will be on recent world events; I am compiling the information for that article as we speak. But having just finished three books on a topic very dear to my heart, I am compelled to write the following at this time.]
My heart is heavy as I write this. Regular readers will recall that I have covered the topics of the Jewish people, anti-Semitism, and Israel many times. However through a confluence of events I found myself reading three books simultaneously, each covering the same basic topics with slightly different points-of-view and I must now put my conflicting reactions into words.
Readers who remember what they learned in school have noticed that I seem to have violated a rule by putting my own title in quotations marks. That is because I could find no better title for this piece than the one given to M. Hirsh Goldberg's book, which is one of the three I just completed. The other two are "The Modern Guide to Judaism" by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and "Judaism for Dummies" by Rabbi Ted Falcon and Davit Blatner.
By way of introduction, let me review the high points of what I have written in the past. I have spoken of the confusion I felt in middle school when I first learned of the Holocaust. My problem was not the Nazis; I was old enough to understand evil exists in the world. My consternation came from 8 mm film reels showing Jews lining up with apparent resignation, obediently awaiting their deaths. I have spoken of some answers I obtained from reading the "Origins of the Inquisition" by the late Professor Emeritus Ben-Zion Netanyahu. I also confessed to the deep, unassuagable anger I felt after reading that book, anger that drove me a year later to contact Rabbi Skobac of Jews for Judaism in search of a way to deal with my rage. He graciously called me and gave of his time to allow me to vent, after which he directed me to lectures which he hoped would guide me. they did. I no longer boil over at the mention of the word "Jesus"; believe me, that is great progress because until recently whenever I heard it all I could see and hear were Jews being burned alive.
But I had more to learn, and while these books have been every informative and enlightening in some respects, they have also perplexingly led to more questions.
First, some answers. My regular readers know that this journey of mine led me to renounce Christianity and, after much research, to convert to Judaism. In studying, I have learned things that probably 95% of the world does not understand about the religion of the Jewish people. For example, the reason they are able to pursue life in the face of mindless, rabid Jew-hatred is because the Jewish people see themselves as the ambassadors of God's Kingdom. They are the "Chosen" in that they were selected to bring God's light to this world (in contrast to the anti-Semitic version whereby Jews think they are precious and above everyone else). In retrospect, there were key places in my life where I began learning this long before my life was turned upside-down by Professor Netanyahu's book (an unintended consequence on his part, I am certain).
The first lesson I learned was in my twenties, when I invited a co-worker and his wife over to my apartment for an informal housewarming dinner. It was December, and after dinner I gave him a Christmas card (one of those lengthy ones that reads like a book, to which I added my own handwritten thoughts). I watched him carefully as he read it. Every last word. All of the underlined portions, and all of my comments. He and I had hit if off from the second we met, and I really wanted him to know how much I valued him. He folded the card when he was done, re-inserted it into the envelope, and slipped it into his briefcase. I waited for him to speak. He said the following:
"Thank you. I appreciate every word. I know you meant everything the card said, and everything you wrote, and I take it the way you intended it. But, I should tell you: I am Jewish."
I was horrified.
I thought I had just offended my dear friend and I feared he was going to storm out of the apartment and never speak to me again.
Instead, he said, "We do not celebrate Christmas. He celebrate something called 'Chanukah'. Let me tell you about it."
And he did. And a moment that could have ended in disaster was turned into a wonderful learning experience for me.
Many years later I received a second, far-less shocking lesson. I was in a hospital waiting room on a Wednesday afternoon, and I kept seeing a doctor walking around wearing a yarmulke. I was confused. I was certain it was not Saturday; why was a Jewish doctor wearing a yarmulke? I asked one of the staff, who said he had no idea but that I should ask him. I balked, saying I did not want to offend the man, but the staff member told me the doctor was very nice and would be more than happy to talk to me.
So, I approached him sheepishly, got around to asking the question, and he replied, "It is a constant reminder to me that there is One (he pointed at the ceiling) Who is Higher than myself."
I almost cried. I thought that was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard.
Those two lessons, combined with everything else I have learned over the years, brought me to what I realize now is a logical point in my life. I now find myself arguing almost daily with Jew-haters from around the globe on social media, encountering most of the arguments covered in the books listed above. I have gained some perspective from these books, but as I stated I also have more questions.
Such as: If we are to combat ignorance and mindless hate, it seems to me we must be armed with the truth so that we can educate. How can we do that when, in covering the Holocaust, books like "Judaism for Dummies" completely neglect the role of Islam? Rabbi Falcon makes Mohamed sound like a false prophet, but completely neglects mentioning the Jews he massacred in Medina, raping and enslaving the women and children of three Jewish tribes. Not a word about Himmler's Moslem armies, and not even a hint of Hajj Amin al-Husseini, never mind the Farhud. I understand Edwin Black has been having that same problem with the U. S. Holocaust Museum. It seems to me the Jewish people should be the last ones engaging in political correctness. In fact, M. Hirsh Goldberg correctly names "tolerance" (which I have defined as "bigotry in disguise") as being at the root of much of the anti-Jewish sentiment throughout history. Why then would the Jewish community engage in tolerance itself? (For me to accept someone is for me to take the person for who he or she is, faults and all. When I tolerate them, I am placing myself in a position of superiority, hoping that over time this person will begin acting (or believing) the way that I do. There is a huge difference between the two.)
No one wants to demonize 1.8 billion people, making the same mistake as Jew-haters by lumping an entire group of people into one category. Just as in Christianity, Judaism, and other religions, I have no doubt there are Moslems who have never read the Koran and may never even have graced the doorsteps of a mosque. However, should we not recognize evil for what it is? Are we not to hate the things God hates, one of those things being evil itself? Should we not fight against a philosophy that has slaughtered hundreds of millions of people from its inception in the 7th Century? Or do we pretend it does not exist, praying that someday the truth will come out, ostensibly by magic?
If Jews are to bring God's light to Earth, then should that light not be used to bring truth? Islam has targeted Jews for 1400 years, but it has also slaughtered Christians, Hindus, and even other Moslems who were not judged to be following "allah" correctly. Should Jews be silent and allow the scourge to continue? I understand (but do not accept) the silence from Christianity; "Turn the other cheek", "Count it all joy", and all of that insane rubbish. But the Jewish people know better. In fact, Rabbi Shmuley reminds us that Torah teaches us never to rejoice in suffering. We are here to fight it. How can we fight it if we refuse to speak of it?
I will likely revisit this topic in upcoming articles, Meanwhile, my next post will be on Putin's power play under the guise of saving the world.