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In memory of Barbara Freudmann, Bayla bat Avraham z”l,
who passed away on 2 Cheshvan 5776 / October 15, 2015
“Some people like Jews and some do not; but no thoughtful man can doubt the fact
that they are beyond all question the most formidable and the most
remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world.”
Winston Churchill (1)
The anti-Semitic world has a hard time with us Jews, and we should feel some pity for all those who work relentlessly to give us a bad name. They boycott us in academia, journalism, European governments, the market place, or just in the streets of daily life. But let’s be honest. Aren’t they right? Are we not truly a nuisance?
It’s not easy to live with us Jews. We’re trouble-makers and can be painfully irritating. There’s no escaping it.
The trouble with us Jews is that we are constantly breaking the rules. For thousands of years, we have survived empires that did everything to try and destroy us – whether it was the Egyptians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Germans, or others. In the twentieth century, it looked as if they had finally succeeded. Six million of us were murdered in the Holocaust. But instead of disappearing, we decided that after 2,000 years of exile, it would be better to go home and rebuild our own country. And so we did.
What took other nations hundreds and hundreds of years to build, we did in only a few. What was possible we did very quickly, and what was impossible took us just a bit longer. Not only did we violate the rules of history in exile, but we also became the greatest chutzpah-niks on earth while busily rebuilding our 4,000-year-old homeland. Who would deny that this is highly irritating?
And now they want to boycott us. But how can they? It would be suicide. Truly boycotting Jews, after all, would mean a lot more than banning a few Israeli products or some universities. Anti-Semites would have to boycott many products on which their lives depend. Just think of medications for all sorts of illnesses, produced by Teva, Rafa, Taro, and other Israeli companies. What about Multiple Sclerosis? Israelis discovered a blood test by which one can distinguish between mild and severe cases. And then there are people who suffer from spinal injuries, paralysis, breathing problems, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and DNA breakdown. For all of these illnesses, and many more, Jews in Israel have made major contributions toward healing people around the world and improving their quality of life.
If not for these remarkable Jewish discoveries, most anti-Semites would be confined to bed with serious illnesses, and some would have died long ago. So please, fellow Jews, have some pity on them! They have a really hard time with us! Denying themselves all these medications, consistent anti-Semites would leave this world prematurely. An interesting thought!
But it’s not only in the field of medicine that Jews have contributed significantly. Look at Intel Israel’s computer processor chips for personal computers; ICQ Instant Messaging ; anti-virus computer software; cellular phones; voice mail; micro-irrigation; cherry tomatoes; steel security doors (Rav Bariach); Iron Dome (mobile air defense system); Waze (providing drivers with real-time road traffic information); ReWalk (a bionic system to enable paraplegics to stand upright, walk, and climb stairs); and the disk-on-key, to name just a few – all developed by Jews in this terrible, obnoxious country called Israel. And let’s not forget that Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation and, in proportion to its population, has the largest number of start-up companies in the world. It has the highest concentration of high-tech companies worldwide, apart from Silicon Valley. It ranks No. 2 in the world for venture capital funds, second only to the United States. Would you not feel even a little jealous? Is some pity for the anti-Semite not in place?
Nebbich, without the ‘yiddishe kopf,’ not only would many be ill, or dead, but they would be unable to write their anti-Semitic slurs on computers, or even communicate by cell phone with their fellow anti-Semites!
And then there’s this man called Jesus. He was a Jew who introduced some very important Jewish moral stuff to the Western world. He takes center stage in the New Testament, the most admired book in countries where millions of anti-Semites live. Not only that, but he is the most revered man in the entire West, worshipped by millions as nothing less than the son of God. What non-Jewish kid could have ever pulled that off? And if that’s not enough, everyone knows that if he would be alive today, he would not eat at the anti-Semite’s home but would ask for a kosher restaurant run by a Jew with a beard and pei’ot. Oy, gevalt! So what do you want from this miserable anti-Semite? You want him to like us?
Without some of the Jewish teachings of this man Jesus, much of so-called Western civilization would still find itself in a primitive, cannibal-like stage in which anti-Semites, while sipping coffee in a restaurant and thinking how to become more sophisticated anti-Semites, would have to run for their lives so as not to get eaten alive by one of their fellow men. Anti-Semites are dead scared of this very man. Why? Because it is this man who brought Jewish ethics and moral standards to our Western world – the very same ethics and standards that these anti-Semites would like to destroy! So who wouldn’t hate the Jews for giving birth to this disturbing man? Anti-Semites don’t spit on the Jews because they are Jesus killers but because they are Jesus givers! They want to re-enact the crucifixion of their ‘savior’ by torturing the Jews who gave them this irritating Jew. So have some mercy. These are hard times for anti-Semites.
And then, every anti-Semite knows that the United States and Great Britain would not be what they are today without their Jews. They would still be looking more like impoverished countries, with underdeveloped economies, bad health facilities and lack of scientific discoveries. Their laws, although secularized, are deeply influenced by the Torah and the spirit of the great Jewish prophets. Yet they would be completely unknown, and the anti-Semite would not have the ‘freedom of speech’ he now so enjoys.
Indeed, it does not make sense. Here is a country in the Middle East, no larger than a piece of real estate; so small that it is nearly invisible. One needs a magnifying glass when searching for it on a map. Its main inhabitants, the Jews, together with their brothers and sisters throughout the world, amount to fewer people than are counted in a slight statistical error in the Chinese census! Or, as Sir Isaiah Berlin once famously quipped, “[The Jews] have enjoyed rather too much history and too little geography.” (2) Yet we are one of the oldest, if not the oldest nation in the world! For most of our existence we have lived in foreign countries, without an army to protect us, and mainly poorer than the poor. But we contribute, per capita, more to this world than does any other nation. Just think about it: Wouldn’t you get depressed if you were an anti- Semite?
And then this: For as long as we Jews have existed, we have not had heroes like Julius Caesar, Titus and other men of military superiority. We opposed the ‘heroism’ that other nations see as their very raison d’être. In fact, we could not understand what there was to admire! Instead, we loved our peace-seeking, spiritual leaders such as Moses, Isaiah and Amos. We never got carried away with heroic battles, orgies and other indulgences. More than anything else, it was our unbridled passion for studying and for knowledge that moved us. We are obsessed with our Holy Book, which constantly reprimands us, and gives us severe headaches.
Yes, for all these thousands of years, Jews didn’t really know how to fight a war. Even today, after having developed one of the most sophisticated armies in the world, we have a hard time using our arms against our attackers because of our inherent aversion to hurting people, even when they are committed to killing us. Still, we manage to stand up against millions and millions of enemies who surround us. And everyone knows, as does the anti-Semite, that the Jew will again outlive them, as we have for the past 4,000 years. Well, if that’s not irritating, what is? Indeed, it is as though some mysterious Power is looking after us. And it is this Power that so many want to get rid of, so that they can ‘get on with their lives.’
Add to this the fact that anti-Semites make sure that the Jews and their country are the most debated topics in the world, and you then understand why they have such a hard time with us. Who would not be on the verge of a nervous breakdown?
Empathize with their frustration and their need to let it all out! And where will they end up? On the couch of a psychiatrist who uses methods developed by a Jew to relieve them of their depression! So, you get the picture? Es iz shver tzu zein an anti-Semite! (3) Boycott? Come on! You mean suicide!
We Jews poke fun at all that the anti-Semites hold dear. So what do you expect of them? To love us?
1) “Zionism versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People,” Illustrated Sunday Herald, Feb. 8, 1920, p. 5.
2) The Power of Ideas (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), p. 143.
3) Based on a famous Yiddish expression, Es iz shver tzu zein a Yid – It is difficult to be a Jew.
Questions to Ponder from the David Cardozo Think Tank:
[We suggest printing out and discussing at your Shabbat table, if you like.]
1. How do you personally relate to the notion presented by Rabbi Cardozo that the Jews are a nuisance to the anti-Semitic world? Has success in your own life ever been interpreted as bothersome, frustrating or just plain aggravating to others, and if so, how did you deal with such a situation? How should the Jewish people as a whole deal with such a situation?
2. Rabbi Cardozo presents an argument for trying to understand why the anti Semitic world might be so opposed to the Jews. Given the long list of atrocities endured by the Jewish people, would you agree that there is room to understand the anti Semitic world’s aggravation? Is this essay blaming the victim, i.e., blaming the Jews for their success and endurance against all odds; and thus somewhat justifying anti Semitic feelings and actions? Or is this essay mainly satirical?
3. Rabbi Cardozo mentions that Jews never had military heroes like Julius Caesar, Titus and the like – instead of this type of ‘heroism,’ Jews celebrate peace-seeking spiritual heroes such as Moses, Isaiah and Amos. Considering other famous figures in Jewish history that are actually known for their military prowess, such as Joshua, King David, Joseph Trumpeldor and Mordechai Anielewicz, would you agree that Jewish heroism is really just a matter of spiritual heroism? How is Judaism to balance these two models of heroism?
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Michael Schneider says
This is my favorite piece of all the great pieces which you have given us over the years!
In my opinion you are one of the most Jewish modern, brightest and bravest commentators on Judaism that we have today!
And that’s not all Rabbi! We can garner a pleasant drop of Jewish style comedy in which we Jews excel!
Great stuff Rabbi and thanks! Djew got anymore?!!
Michael Taylor Schneider
Michael Schneider says
re: Have Some Pity on the Anti-Semite! (Feb 25th.)
Dear Rabbi Cardoza,
Thank you so much for this article.
In my opinion this is one of the finest articles you have written over years of top class articles about the Jews and Judaism.
You’re bravery always comes out clearly in what you say, together with a slice of Jewish humor, puts you among our brave Jewish leaders yourself.
Thank you for this piece. We need people like you to keep our chins up in times such as those in which we are living where our enemies know no bounds of despicable hatred!
Thanks again for such a great article for this time!
Lots of love,
Tel Aviv, Israel
David Lloyd Klepper says
One need look no further than the story of Joseph and his brothers to understand AS.
Ron H. Willems van Beveren says
Thank you for all your eye opening articles. I follow you with great interest. Though not a halachic Jew, my forefathers and mothers were, in Amsterdam. Both Askenazic and Portugese.
Thank you again.
Sha'ul Hemsley says
Extremely disappointed that your premiere “Lonely, but not alone” next week is already sold out !!!
By chance saw it advertised at the end of the Rabbi’s article in “Times of Israel” . Did you advertise elsewhere ?? I very much wanted to pay in cash but there was no such option !!! Please hold another showing soon & advertise more extensively !!! Rabbi Cardozo, there are many ,many shagerim & other Jews who are greatly inspired & strengthened by your teachings !!! Yashar Ko’ach !!!