Will Amer­i­can Jewry sur­vive the great di­vide?


The Three Weeks – the time be­tween the 17th of Tam­muz, when the Ro­mans broke the walls of Jerusalem and en­tered the city that had been dev­as­tated from within, and the 9th of Av, when the con­querors de­stroyed the Tem­ple – re­mind us that Pales­tinian ter­ror­ism, how­ever painful, is not the great­est threat to the State of Is­rael. Rather, our ha­tred for our co-re­li­gion­ists is by far more dan­ger­ous to world­wide Jewry, and to the na­tion-state of the Jews, namely Is­rael.

While Ro­man le­gions camped out­side the city walls, the Jews within Jerusalem mer­ci­lessly slaugh­tered one an­other. “The com­man­ders of the Ro­mans deemed this sedi­tion among [the Jews in Jerusalem] to be of great ad­van­tage to them,” wrote Jose­phus Flav­ius in The Wars of the Jews (Book IV, Chap­ter 6). Ves­pasian, who over­saw the sup­press­ing of the Jewish re­volt, wrote to his com­man­ders on the ground: “The providence of God is on our side by set­ting our en­e­mies against one an­other . ... God acts as a gen­eral of the Ro­mans bet­ter than I can do, and is giv­ing the Jews up to us with­out any pains of our own [through their own sedi­tion] .... ”

“The Jews are vexed to pieces every day by their civil wars and dis­sen­sions,” wrote Flav­ius, him­self a Jew who turned against his own peo­ple. “I ven­ture to af­firm,” con­cludes Flav­ius (Book V, Chap­ter 6), “that the sedi­tion de­stroyed the city, and the Ro­mans de­stroyed the sedi­tion. Thus, we may justly as­cribe our mis­for­tunes to our own peo­ple.”

Through­out his­tory, our most for­mi­da­ble haters have felt that by per­se­cut­ing the Jews they were ex­e­cut­ing God’s com­mand­ment. Jose­phus Flav­ius wrote that the Jews “en­tirely lost mercy among them,” and “tram­pled upon all the laws of men, and laughed at the laws of God” (The Wars of the Jews, Book IV, Chap­ter 6).

Like­wise, ac­cord­ing to his­to­rian and Re­form Rabbi Ja­cob Rader Mar­cus, at the mo­ment of sign­ing the de­cree to ex­pel the Jews from Spain, Queen Isabella told the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Jews: “‘The king’s heart is like chan­nels of wa­ter in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wher­ever He wishes’ (Proverbs, 21:1). Do you be­lieve that this comes upon you from us? The Lord has put this thing into the heart of the king.”

The arch­en­emy of the Jewish peo­ple, Adolf Hitler, also felt he was do­ing God’s will. In Mein Kampf he wrote, “Eter­nal Na­ture in­ex­orably avenges the in­fringe­ment of her com­mands. Hence, to­day I be­lieve that I am act­ing in ac­cor­dance with the will of the Almighty Cre­ator: by de­fend­ing my­self against the Jew, I am fight­ing for the work of the Lord.”

The Jewish na­tion was es­tab­lished at the foot of Mount Si­nai when its mem­bers com­mit­ted to unite “as one man with one heart.” Im­me­di­ately af­ter, the Jews were com­manded to be “a light unto na­tions,” namely to spread that unity through­out the world. Rav Kook suc­cinctly summed up the role of the Jewish peo­ple: “The pur­pose of Is­rael is to unite the world into a sin­gle fam­ily.”

This com­mit­ment is why pre­ced­ing every ma­jor dev­as­ta­tion that be­fell the Jews was a pe­riod of in­tense re­jec­tion of our com­mit­ment to each other and to the world. In­stead of striv­ing to be­come a role model of unity, we nur­ture mu­tual ha­tred and di­vi­sion. When our de­sire to walk out on our vo­ca­tion trans­lates into the de­sire to min­gle among the na­tions and dis­solve our Jewish iden­tity, it trig­gers an in­tense re­jec­tion among the na­tions, which we in­ter­pret as an­tisemitism.

To­day’s Amer­i­can Jewry is un­der­go­ing the same process of de­nial of its her­itage and vo­ca­tion. If this process con­tin­ues, it will bring with it the same dire con­se­quences that our na­tion has ex­pe­ri­enced count­less times. On July 16, Emma Green of The At­lantic pub­lished a fas­ci­nat­ing es­say de­tail­ing ap­proaches among Jews con­cern­ing in­ter­faith mar­riages. The es­say ex­posed the depth of the chasm af­flict­ing Amer­i­can Jewry, and its grow­ing dis­re­gard for our her­itage. In the words of Rabbi Sh­muly Yan­klowitz, “Ul­ti­mately, we’re headed to­ward one of the great­est di­vi­sions in the his­tory of the Jewish peo­ple.”

“What some peo­ple fear, on both sides of the in­ter­mar­riage de­bate,” adds Green, “is that Jews will no longer be one peo­ple, but rather two peo­ples rec­og­nized ac­cord­ing to rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent stan­dards.”

Rabbi Felicia Sol of the B’nai Jeshu­run Con­ser­va­tive sy­n­a­gogue echoed Green’s words: “We could lose a gen­er­a­tion, if not the fu­ture of Jewish life.”

But Amer­i­can Jewry will not dis­ap­pear. As al­ways hap­pens, just be­fore the Jews com­pletely dis­solve within their host na­tion, the ta­bles turn on them, and hos­pi­tal­ity be­comes hos­til­ity. In Spain, as well as in Ger­many, the Jews did not see their end ap­proach­ing. They were too com­pla­cent to no­tice its ap­proach. By the time they awoke, it was too late.

Re­gard­less of our wishes, Jews are never part of the lo­cal cul­ture. They al­ways are and al­ways will be held to a higher stan­dard than all other na­tions, as in­di­cated by the re­peated con­dem­na­tions of the Jewish state in the United Na­tions.

Jews will al­ways be ac­cused of all the wrongs in the world, not be­cause they are wrong-do­ers, but be­cause they are not right-do­ers. That is, they are not bring­ing the “light” of unity unto the na­tions. This is why in Se­fat Emet it is writ­ten, “Ev­ery­thing de­pends on the chil­dren of Is­rael. As they cor­rect them­selves, all of Creation fol­lows them.”

We are truly Jewish only when we place the tenet “Love your neigh­bor as your­self” above all else. When we aban­don this mind­set, we be­gin to bicker over who is a bet­ter Jew than whom, and from this point on we are cer­tain to end in doom. Es­pe­cially to­day, our duty as Jews is to nur­ture our unity above all dif­fer­ences be­cause, as the Ro­mans no­ticed, our strength is in our unity. As long as we con­done sepa­ra­tion be­tween us, we are has­ten­ing the ar­rival of an­other ruin on our peo­ple.

The writer has a PhD in Phi­los­o­phy and Kab­balah and an MSc in Med­i­cal Bio-Cy­ber­net­ics. He has writ­ten over 40 books, which have been trans­lated into dozens of lan­guages.

(Am­mar Awad/Reuters)

MEM­BERS of Women of the Wall are heck­led by haredi protestes at the Western Wall. Our ha­tred for our co-re­li­gion­ists is dan­ger­ous to world­wide Jewry.

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