Why do they hate us?

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Why do they hate us?

Please allow me to preface with some of my personal feelings about this new era we're in.  The knee-jerk reaction is to reinforce whatever convictions we already have.  If we've been active politically, we resolve to increase our political activism.  If we feel strongly about debating neo-nazis, we'll increase that.  If we feel strongly about guns, we increase our gun activism.  If we think the answer is dialogue and understanding, we'll increase our cultural understanding activism. 

While some of these causes are worthy, I'd like to recommend something different.  G-d gives us these tragedies in order for us to grow.  The way to grow is by broadening our horizons and opening our eyes to things that are new.  We don't need tragedies just to increase what we've already been doing.  Something novel should be born from it. 

Now, "why do they hate us"?  For the same reason that many of them love us!  It has nothing to do with what we do.  It's who we are.  Hitler didn't distinguish between religious, secular or atheist Jews, and neither did the Spanish Inquisition, Pharaoh of Egypt, or the perpetrators of the Pittsburgh & Poway massacres.  They hate who we are.  I can write the key word in this email, but it takes a whole life of focus and searching to appreciate.  The keyword is "neshama" -"soul."  Every person, animal and rock in this world has a soul from G-d.  The Jewish soul, though, is different and special.  This soul is what makes a Jew a Jew and it's this same soul that some of the gentiles love.  It's the same soul that some of them hate.

This soul is what makes the Jewish people unbreakable.  It's not government, legislature or any other kind of activism that has kept our people miraculously alive and well through three millennia of hatred, and I believe that investing in this soul is the key to weather the current tough times.  As we read in the Haggadah on Passover, "It is this promise (of G-d to Abraham) which has stood by for us, for in each generation, they rise up to wipe us out, and G-d saves us from their hands".

Instead of merely continuing the same things that we're already doing, let's try something new.  Let's resolve to start searching for the meaning of "neshama."  Let's set out on the journey to appreciate what it means to be a Jew, something that many of us, even in our senior years, have never really thought about.  

If we can take this to heart, find answers, and share them with the millions of Jews on this planet who have no clue what it means to be a Jew, we will have done a great "Jewish" service.  Being Jewish is not just about eating matzah balls, bagels and knishes.  It's not even about Tikun Olam, social justice or being a good person, which would be very insulting to the many gentiles who wouldn't want to be excluded from that.  Being Jewish is about having a holy Jewish soul with a mission to transform the world into a holy place.

The place to find the real answers to the questions is not from polished college courses at a Jewish university, but the traditional texts in the teaching method that fathers and rabbis have been teaching children with for thousands of years.  The answers are in the greatest gift from G-d, our Torah.

These ideas are what I try to communicate in my classes, and I think they are ideas worthy of being heard.  Studying our Torah is what makes us into strong Jews.  There's no such thing as a "good Jew" or a "bad Jew," but there is a "strong Jew" and a "weak Jew."  Let's become strong Jews, not just in muscle (which is important too) but in spirit. 


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Abrams

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