The Untold Truth About “Passion”
By Rabbi Ben Tzion Krasnianski
Published in the Algemeiner Journal Friday March 19, 2004 and on Arutz Sheva on March 18, 2004
It is amazing how the more things change the more they stay the same.
From our very inception 3700 years ago and throughout our long history until this very day Jews evoke the same fiery and passionate response. When a Buddha sits and meditates on a mountaintop who cares? When Indian Shamans smoke peyote and go into a trance who pays attention? When a monk secludes himself in a Monastery who notices? But when the world spots a Jew, even an assimilated and a self hating Jew, the world has an allergic reaction. Why?
A baby is fresh pure and innocent. You can’t hate a baby for being a communist or for being a capitalist. Babies evoke universal feelings of tenderness, compassion and unconditional love. So how could the Jewish baby turn Germany, the most cultured nation in the world, which boasted of the University and worshipped the rational mind, into a nation of beasts who exerted all of its energies to exterminate every last Jewish child? How do the cultural elites populating our Universities and media centers so smugly gloss over the brutal murder of innocent Jewish babies in Israel by the single most vicious and evil act in all of human history: Suicide murder?
Israel today has become the Jew of the world. Although you could hardly find Israel on the map and you could hardly count the Jewish people who are merely 0.2 percent of the world population, the whole world has strong opinions about the Jews. The Muslims blame all their woes on Jews, many Christians via “Passion” accuse Jews of Deicide and many liberals and atheists blame the Jews for the scourge of terrorism. Nations who don’t see eye to eye on anything, many of whom don’t even know what a Jew looks like, unanimously agree that Israel is guilty of all charges. The only thing you could get the UN to agree on is to condemn Israel. The Jews appears to be the great unifiers, who possess the unique ability to unite the world in a profound and deep way.
The Essence of the Jew
The good news is that the Jew hasn’t lost any of his power, his youthful vigor and his potency. It is also crystal clear that all Jews are truly equal: a Jew is a Jew is a Jew. Although there’s no such thing as an atheist Christian or an atheist Muslim for that would be an oxymoron, a Jew, however, even an atheist Jew is a Jew. Even an atheist Jew evokes the same powerful response as the most devoutly religious Jew. Being Jewish is deeper than being religious. Religious beliefs and attitudes are subject to change because they are acquired beliefs. Mother Theresa could turn into an atheist and vice versa. It has happened countless times throughout history when something occurs in a person’s life that violently shakes up their faith. A Jew, however, never ceases to be a Jew. Being Jewish is like a parent child relationship and you can’t divorce your parents. While superficial things change with time, core things never do.
Jews are not necessarily a nation of philosophers or mystics; rather they are a nation the Talmud (Shabbat 97:A) defines as: believers the children of believers.
A toddler, who cannot yet speak or reason, knows with absolute certainty, with every fiber of his being and with every bone in his body that his father and his mother are very special to him. His relationship to them is crystal clear. Even when the toddler grows into a world-renowned philosopher and writes volumes on the meaning of the parent-child relationship, it doesn’t add one iota to the depth and to the clarity of his feelings towards his own parents. These feelings are innate, coming from a deeper place than his ego logic, flowing from his very core and essence. This primal feeling doesn’t need external support; and all the reasons in the world don’t add one iota to the clarity and the depth of his feelings towards his parents!
This is the meaning of being Jewish. A Jew knows G-d from within, from his hidden depth, his inner core and the very essence of his being. Every single Jew inherited their uniquely Jewish soul from our Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and our Matriarchs, Sara, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. The Jews like the toddler, knows G-d with every fiber of his being and with every bone in his body.
All the superficial explanations for anti-Semitism miss the point. When the Christians, Muslims, atheists, fascist, communists, leftists and the African Americans hate the Jew for a multitude of reasons and when you realize that this has been going on for thousands of years, you must suspect that there’s something deeper going on.
The philosopher Peter Kreeft wrote about the Jew: As the collective conscience of the human race, they gave us the great gift of guilt. Hitler said that conscience was a Jewish invention. The Jew is the conscience of the world and we give everyone a guilty conscience. A Jew walking down Park Avenue is a living and breathing miracle and is a witness to the presence of a living and moral G-d in the universe. All the miracles in the Bible pale in comparison to the miracle of Jewish survival and existence. A Jew who has survived crushing blow after crushing blow: destructions, exiles, pogroms, inquisitions, Holocausts, and endless wars, is the greatest living proof that there is a G-d in this world, that history is a moral narrative. The Jew by his very existence reminds six billion people that every human being is created in the image of G-d and that this world is not a jungle. We are all going to have to answer for ourselves and for our actions, after our proverbial one hundred and twenty year sojourn here on earth.
Consequently, the Gentiles who do not like the message have tried to destroy the messenger. “We must save the world from the Jewish tyrannical G-d and his life- denying Ten Commandments,” Hitler wrote. The righteous Gentiles, however, who have nothing to hide and have embraced the morality of the Torah have always loved and cherished the Jews. Those, however, who have what to hide, who use religion to cover up their spiritual malignancy, hate the Jew with a passion commensurate to the level of egotism and evil within their hearts!
Yet, while all the anti-Semites of old are long gone and forgotten, and the cultures of our oppressors have been reduced to the footnotes of history, the Jew has never left its front page. We were present at their birth and we will be present at their funeral. Just as you can’t destroy G-d and you can’t destroy goodness which comes from G-d, you can’t destroy the universal conscience, the Jew.
Chosen for What
Jews were chosen to be the teachers, the prophets and the priests who would be the light onto the nations. Healthy children prefer to run around wild and free, resenting the teacher for disciplining them and forcing them to do their school work. One day, however, the children will grow up and realize that not only wasn’t the teacher their enemy, rather he was their best friend who dedicated his life to teach them the finer things in life that make life meaningful, worthwhile and truly enjoyable. The children will understand that their teacher has set them free enabling them to realize their G-d given potential. They will even learn to love, and respect their teacher for giving them a true lease on life.
The nations of the world will inevitably grow up and learn to welcome the Jewish message: the universal Seven Noahide Laws presented in the Torah that are incumbent of every human being and are truly life sustaining. They represent a wholesome life style, a dignified and beautiful way of living that is consistent with our divine nature. This is the Messianic era that Jews believe in, aspire to and have been working towards for 3800 years. It will arrive, inevitably and imminently.
Do We Remember Who We Are?
The tragedy really begins when the teacher forgets that he is the teacher, forgets that his mission is to teach and not to win a popularity contest. Imagine a teacher who is so insecure that he pretends to be one of the kids in order to be liked by his students! When the teacher behaves like the teacher the children may resent him but at least they respect him. When the teacher, however, masquerades and pretends to be one of the children it evokes contempt amongst the students, their anger turns to fury and they end up truly despising and disdaining him.
When Jews forget that they are the chosen people who were chosen to inspire the world with the Divine message and instead they assimilate and pretend to be equal to the rest of the world, they only exacerbate anti-Semitism and pour kerosene on the flames of hatred. The Jews in Germany were more German than the Germans. Result: the worst outbreak of anti-Semitism in our history.
Secular Zionism, was Theodor Herzl’s solution to anti-Semitism. If the Jews were to have their own native country just as the English, the French and the Americans they would be accepted by the family of nations as equals. Result: The only place in the world where Jews are being blown up almost on a daily basis for the crime of being Jewish is Israel! The only place in the world where Jews are not allowed to live in and are actively being expelled from their homes in order to make entire regions Jude rein is Israel! Israel has become the punching bag of the world and rarely have Jews been more isolated and maligned.
Israel is building itself a self imposed ghetto, in the classical sense of the word, wall, fence and all. It feels like the 1930’s all over again! From a purely objective point of view, Theodor Herzl’s solution, Zionism, has not delivered. Despite the tremendous achievements and the miracle of Israel we must acknowledge the truth: Zionism did not achieve its primary goal. Israel and the Jews are hated as much as ever before.
Although Israel is a tremendous miracle, we need more than a miracle. The miracle did not help the 1100 Jews in Israel who were butchered just the other day and the 10,000 who are wounded for life and the family of 100,000 mourners, and the five million who are held hostage to terror. The miracle is not helping European Jews who are afraid today to wear a yarmulke in the streets! The miracle is not helping Jews in America where the seed is being planted in tens of millions of Christians, via the most powerful visual medium, showing how we killed their G-d!
We need more than a miracle, we need an end to anti-Semitism; we need Moshiach! Why should Jews settle for miracles, haven't we suffered enough!
Another False Ism
For fifty years, self proclaimed Jewish leaders have invested monumental energy in interfaith dialogue. They believed that by being obsequious, the gentiles would come to love us. Mel Gibson with his “Passion” has in one weekend shattered this final illusion and false sense of security. Jews are scratching their head in bewilderment wondering where they went wrong. They did everything that is politically correct and it has backfired. Jews no longer feel so safe and secure in their Park Avenue Apartments.
All of these isms -Assimilation, Interfaith dialogue, Zionism, Osloism- have failed to buy us peace or security. On the contrary they have backfired and have fanned the flames of Jew-hatred.
The Twentieth Century was the burial ground of all false ideologies: Fascism and Communism. Beginning with the Oslo process and continuing with the most recent Gaza- First declarations by Prime Minister Sharon it has become clear that Zionism and all of the Jewish politically correct false isms have joined all the other ideologies and isms into the dustbin of history. How ironic that Zionism is being destroyed and buried by its best and brightest sons and daughters.
The Root Cause
When a person is uncomfortable in his own skin he makes everyone around them feel uncomfortable. Conversely, when a person is comfortable in his own skin he makes everyone around them feel comfortable. Our problem is not Mel Gibson or Yassir Arafat. We have met the enemy and it is us. When the Jew feels uncomfortable with his own Jewishness do you expect the non Jew to feel comfortable with the Jewish “problem?” Have you ever met a self hating Italian or a self hating Arab? It appears to be a unique Jewish affliction particularly affecting those of Ashkenazic descent with a highly intellectual bent.
Charity begins at home. The measure of a man is how he treats his own brother or sister. If someone beats his wife and abuses his children but is very sympathetic to his neighbors you would correctly view them as a monster, as being highly dysfunctional. A person who is at peace with himself and his loved ones and treats his own family with love and respect, that person will be a good neighbor and will spread peace and goodwill to his entire neighborhood. If, however, he is not at peace with himself and his immediate family he will only sow strife and spread negative energy to his entire surroundings. If a person is not at peace with himself and his loved ones how could he possibly bring peace to the rest of the world!
A Jew who is uncomfortable with his Jewishness, who doesn’t cherish and isn’t proud of his people, his faith and his tradition not only won’t he achieve Tikkun Olam, he will inevitably stir up powerful anti-Semitic feelings.
The Only Criteria of Success
A businessman has one goal and one criteria by which he judges success or failure: Is the business making money or losing money. Concerned Jews have one criteria in mind by which they judge themselves and their organizations success: Are they succeeding in preserving and in safeguarding the Jewish people? Are they ensuring the safety and the security of our children so that they will flourish in peace?
By this standard all the conventional and politically correct approaches are completely bankrupt and have turned out to be terrible investments. Now that the results are in it would be bordering on criminality to continue investing precious resources, time, funds and energy into these failed policies.
What is the solution to anti-Semitism? The answer is so radical yet so simple that it boggles the mind how readily available it is and within our grasp. If every Jew around the world from the greatest to the smallest took one baby step forward in their Jewishness, by doing one more mitzvah, connecting with, cherishing and proudly expressing their yiddishkeit in their daily lives, that alone would instantly revolutionize human consciousness and transform the world for good. It’s as simple as every Jewish woman around the world lighting a Shabbat candle and every Jewish male putting on Tefillin.
The six billion citizens of the world would then honor and respect the Jew even give us a standing ovation for becoming who we really are!
All of our resources should be invested in education, education, education in order to rekindle Jewish pride one Jew at a time. Every Jew should be brought home to a place that they’ve never really left. Every Jew is already there, already connected and the Mitzvot that we do merely express the connection that already exists. It is innate, it is our birthright!
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson o.b.m., would often say that you don’t fight darkness with broomsticks; rather a little light dispels and illuminates a lot of darkness. Darkness is merely the void, the absence of light. Consequently, the darkness offers no resistance as it melts away and disappears even before the smallest light. The Jewish soul which is compared in Proverbs to a flame was charged with the divine mission to illuminate the world with the light of Torah and Mitzvot. Collectively, our individual flames add up to a blazing torch that has the ability to illuminate the darkness that has engulfed us, and lead us all towards the great dawn of our redemption, the Messianic era, when “Passion” will flame out, and anti-Semitism will go the way of communism and become history. The ball is in our court!