Rabbi Avraham GordimerThe writer is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and the New York Bar.
As the Three Weeks and the Nine Days of mourning for the Churban (the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion and persecution of the Jewish People) come upon us, culminating in Tisha B’Av, the Jewish historical/national day of mourning on the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av, it is hard not to realize that the same forces of hate which were mobilized to crush our people during the Churban are as alive as ever today.
The irrational voices of much the international community, castigating and censuring the State of Israel for protecting its citizens in the face of thousands of terrorist rocket attacks, plus attempted drone and underground infiltration assaults, have echoed the same bias, hatred and anti-Semitism that have haunted our people from time immemorial.
When America, Great Britain and countless other countries launched massive, blanket military responses to assailing enemies, it was understood that such is the nature of defensive warfare. The World War II British carpet-bombing of Germany and America’s nuclear actions in Japan to end the war, and innumerable sweeping military responses throughout history, were not questioned, despite the civilian casualties, in which often no effort was made to spare noncombatants, as comprehensive military actions were needed.
However, when it comes to the IDF, which forewarns civilians of impending defensive maneuvers and even spares terrorists when the risk to civilians is deemed too high – something no other military does - much of the international community reacts with harsh condemnation and even with allegations of genocide.
While it is easy to get frustrated and attribute this bias and hatred to ignorance, brainwashing and jealousy, the bias and hatred are too irrational to be logically explained. The posture of moral equivalency toward the IDF and Hamas that has been adopted by much of the international community, and the outright, vicious detestation of the State of Israel and any defensive actions on its part, belie practical explanation.
The outright enmity and glaring bias are exceedingly irrational – so irrational that they are in the realm of the supernatural. Hatred of the Jewish People on the part of the international community is Divinely ordained (the Midrash and rabbinic commentaries elaborate on this point) and, until the Messianic Age, cannot be logically resolved and done away with.
As we approach the annual period in which we commemorate the Temple's destruction and actively connect to it, I think about the Holocaust a lot. On the one hand, I am overwhelmed by the reality that six million Jews were systematically and brutally murdered relatively so recently, while the world goes on in large part as if these atrocities did not occur.
Innumerable localities in Europe which witnessed with their own eyes the rounding up and murder of their Jewish residents – very often with the active participation of communal police and townsfolk – continue life as normal and do not miss or desire to remember the massive number of their Jewish neighbors who were murdered.
On the other hand, I still cannot fathom the idea that the six million Jews were methodically exterminated by democratically elected people, and that the killing was directed by highly educated professionals representing a broad array of upper society. Engineers, chemists, physicians and professors planned the Holocaust and oversaw its execution. It was not the work of an outcast and ignorant band of Nazi terrorists; it was the work of acclaimed and respected professionals, who were elected by the people and who received cooperation from all levels of society across Europe, in eagerly carrying out the genocide.
This is all inexplicable. No one can honestly rationalize it.
The incredibly irrational same anti-Semitism that moved so much of Europe to viciously annihilate its Jews, and that was responsible for millennia of pogroms, expulsions, blood libels and public torture and burnings, animates the contemporary haters of the State of Israel.
Yet once we recognize it all as Divinely ordained, we can understand it better, cease pointless and frustrating attempts to rationalize it away – and, most importantly, be inspired and moved to greater belief in God and the ultimate, unique path and destiny upon which He has placed us. For the God of history is the God of the present and the future, and just as He declared that we as a people would suffer, so has He declared that we will be redeemed and returned proudly to our Land.
The irrational and inexplicable evils of Auschwitz and the irrational, ecstatic and miraculous victories of the Six Day War are all part of the Divine, supernatural path of the Jew.
Let us commit ourselves to God’s Torah – His master plan for our people, whose violation caused the Churban and placed us on a millennia-long trajectory of misfortune – and cling to God in faith and perseverance as we approach ever closer to the Eschatological Era.