Kanye West
Kanye WestReuters/Jana Call me J/ABACAPRESS.COM

Over the past month there has been hysteria in the Jewish World over the antisemitic rantings of Kanye West. Personally I don’t understand the shock waves which the story has created. After all, Jew hatred is nothing new. Allow me to cut through all of the outcry and panic still reverberating throughout the Jewish Establishment in America and explain what is really transpiring. Like with Balaam's ass, the Almighty opened the rapper’s mouth and put the words in his throat to remind Jews that they don't belong in America. It’s as simple as that.

In the scholarly book “The Dawn of Redemption” by Rabbi Yaakov Filber, an expert in the writings of Rabbi Kook and a teacher at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva for nearly fifty years, he presents a fascinating explanation of anti-Semitism. For the purposes of this short article, I will paraphrase excerpts from the excellent translation of Rabbi Moshe Lichtman.

In a chapter dedicated to the uniqueness of Am Yisrael, Rabbi Filber draws from the writings of the Netziv of Volozhin in his Torah commentary “Ha’amek Davar.” A Divine Providence supervises over the Jewish Nation’s survival in Exile, safeguarding it against the numerous threats which rise up against it. One of these threats is assimilation. In situations where the members of any other nation are conquered or exiled, when they willingly mix with their rulers they gain their acceptance and respect to a greater degree than if they had striven to remain separate from them. This is not true of the Jewish People. When they try to mix with the other nations, the Gentiles fail to recognize their worth and eventually hate and persecute them.

The Netziv cites a proof of this from a Midrash (Shemot Rabbah 1:8):

“When Yosef died, the Children of Israel ceased performing the mitzvah of brit milah [ritual circumcision], saying, ‘Let us be like the Egyptians.’ And since they did this, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, turned the love that the Egyptians had for them into hatred, as it says, ‘He turned their hearts to hate His Nation, to conspire against His servants’” (Tehillim 105:25).

A Divine Providence holds sway over Am Yisrael which withholds from them any possibility of assimilating into the nations. This law of the preservation of Israel is a fixed law in the administration of Creation. Therefore, even when the Jewish People try to strip themselves of their singularity and assimilate into their surroundings, this Divine Administration prevents them from doing so by arousing within the Gentile nations a hatred for the Jews, which forcibly distances them from the non-Jews – reminding them that they are strangers in a strange land.

Rabbi Meir Simchah HaKohen of Dvinsk also discusses this phenomenon in his work “Meshech Chochmah” (VaYikra 26:44). He explains: When the Supreme Wisdom decreed that the People of Israel must go into Exile for a specific period of time so that the “Divine Objective” be achieved, He formulated methods and strategies by which the Jews would survive as a unique People and not assimilate into the nations. This Divine Providence is what enabled the exiled Jews to survive such a long time in alien lands. No one in the world believed that this could happen. Any intelligent person who knows what the Jewish People endured throughout history cannot understand how a weak and helpless minority managed to survive again and again in the face of more numerous and powerful nations.

In explanation, the “Meshech Chochmah” points to the fact that Divine Providence always allows the Jews to dwell peacefully and tranquilly in a foreign country for a period of 100-200 years. Afterwards, when the Jews start thinking that they are established in their new place as if it is their birthplace – a situation that is liable to cause them to forget about their true Redemption, Divine Providence causes the Gentiles to hate the Jews, which leads to pogroms, expulsions, and the continued wandering of the Jews from place to place... all in order to make sure that the Jew does not completely drown and disappear in the Exile.

Based on this history lesson, the “Meshech Chochmah” foresaw the German Holocaust thirteen years before World War II and warned the Jews against attempting to assimilate into German society:

“The Jew, in general, will forget from whence he came, considering himself as a tree planted in its native soil. He will abandon the study of his religion to learn languages not his own… He will think that Berlin is Jerusalem… Then a tempestuous wind will come and uproot him from his trunk… a tempest will arise and spread its roaring waves and swallow and destroy and flood without pity” (“Meshech Chochmah,” Vayikra 26:44).

This explanation doesn’t mean we have to thank the Kanye Wests of the world for their hatred, but in addition to the knee-jerk, defensive reactions of protest that have been reported in the media, let us pay heed to the crystal clear message which Hashem wants us to hear in reminding us, ever so gently at first, that our true and eternal Jewish Homeland is waiting.