Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob, The Egyptians and the Jews; Modern Anti-Semitism. Don’t believe the Bible is the word of God? You are not alone.
Some Jews believe the Torah was delivered personally to Moses; others are less sure, many do not even believe in God. I am somewhere between. But I do believe the strength of the Jews comes from centuries of Torah study. That is also a major source of Anti-Semitism.
Today’s post is political and personal. It shares my thoughts about why Jews have been hated across the millennium. That hatred is on the up swing and I two explanations seem reasonable to me.
First, it involves how the Jews became wise or “Sly” as Anti-semites proclaim. Torah study does not involve rote learning but discussion. Gathering many opinions, looking at the past, but also adding thoughts from the present and honoring most.
An old joke says “Two rabbis plus a question about Torah equals seven opinions.”
Torah study leads to a fine tuning of critical thinking. What is that ? It is what allows the comparison of different opinions, thinking about what might be, better reality testing, greater creativity, inventiveness, and stronger survival skills.
Torah study strengthens critical thinking. All educators want to make all children critical thinkers – will not happen, as a certain genetic requirement called brain capacity is also needed. Studies show only 30 to 50 percent of any group of humans are capable of thinking critically.
Here’s a related thought: Surviving Jews were generally smarter than many of their brothers and sisters. So Jews in general got pushed up the survival ladder in terms of brain capacity.
Second reason Jews are hated: Jews believe they were chosen to serve as a moral example to the rest of the world. Moralists are not popular and very unpopular in today’s world. So Jews were chosen to be hated and most strongly by those who are troubled by their own moral standards.
However, Albert Einstein noted: Morality is of the highest importance – but for us, not for God.”
For if we do not adhere to a standard of goodness, all will die. The commandment not to worship false idols comes to play, for it does not just mean wooden or gold statues or the Gods those statues represent. It refers to all human desires that take us away from the Golden Rule. The Golden rule is the standard of moral behavior across all religions.
The Golden Rule is expressed as either, “Do not do to others what you don’t want done to you” or as “Do to others what you want done to or for you.”
Both matter; but the humans of the world will only survive if the first is followed. As the Torah points out we all have a dark side and many of the laws and mitzvoth Jews are told to follow are efforts to control that dark side. Not following our desires if at odds with bettering the world is not an easy path and most stumble from it in one way or another.
For as the Catholic Bishop Fulton L. Sheen once asked and then answered, “Why are those who are notoriously undisciplined and unmoral also most contemptuous of religion and morality? They are trying to solace their own unhappy lives by pulling the happy down to their own abysmal depths.”
But the bigger problem comes in wanting others to believe as we do. It is what led Christians to Inquisition. Why is it so important to get others to believe as we believe. Because beliefs that run counter to our beliefs shake our internal world, make us uncertain about who we are and what we believe.
As Robert Wilson notes. “In reality, both religion and science are expressions of man’s uncertainty. Perhaps the paradox is that certainty, whether it be in science or religion is dangerous.”
I converted to Judaism so my children would be Jews and not be put outside of the thirty three hundred year history of what it means to be Jewish. . I studied for a year. Basically, I had only one question? Must one be a Jew to be loved by the God of our understanding. The Jewish answer. No. God is more interested in behavior and acts, than beliefs.
When I was entered into the Jewish roles as a daughter of Sarah, my Rabbi told me, “I have taught you the laws, now it is between you and Hashem, how you obey them.”
Given that I am far from a perfect human being or a perfect Jew, I am grateful that the God I met and meet in my Torah readings is a God of Mercy. Indeed, I think his mercy is so great, he wants all children of all faith to know the value of love and mercy. To me that explains, why he sits as watches as we try to sort out our differences.
What to do when faced with another’s hatred or your own jealousy? One of my favorite books is T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. It is about Merlin, the Wizard’s effort to educate the boy “Wart” who was to become King Arthur.
“The best thing ….is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
The more we learn about each other, the more we will realize we are one, the more we will understand each other, the less we will hate or be jealous.
Of course, one must also have strong self-soothing skills to move beyond hatred and jealousy. When you find yourself want to blame or judge another think of that as an opportunity to learn more about that person or about yourself. Other and self-awareness are major emotional intelligence skills.
Thank you for all you do including liking, commenting, or sharing. Kindness blesses the giver and the receiver.
Links of interest
Daily Post Sep 9, 2014 Next in Line. A second #RoyalBaby will soon be joining the Windsors in England. Given the choice, would you rather be heir to the throne, or the (probably) off-the-hook sibling?
I would rather be neither. Trying to be me and a good person is blessing enough.