Date: 2/28/2012 06:18 - Subscribe

(A brief thought from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein)


"Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
their evil imaginations have no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression."
Psalm 73:6–8

Have you ever felt like someone didn’t like
you – maybe even hated you – for no
particular reason? It’s puzzling, isn’t it?
You wonder what you did to provoke a strong
reaction, and if you can’t think of anything
you did, it seems irrational. We Jews often
find ourselves as the objects of such irrational

For example, at various points in history,
Jews have been accused of being too poor or
too wealthy; too politically domineering or too
politically uninvolved. We’ve been accused of
being too spiritual and too secular,
unambitious and overly aggressive, too
separated from others and too assimilated.
Does that make sense? How can we be all
those things?

Anti-Semitism, like other forms of racism, is
a condition of the heart. It reflects a callous
heart that has lost sensitivity to others. The
writer of Psalm 73 says that “from their callous
hearts comes iniquity” (v. 7). A hardened heart
that has lost sensitivity to others is a breeding
ground for evil.

In addition to a callous heart, anti-Semitism
forms in a conceited mind. At the base of racism
is the conceited belief that one person or group
is better than another and “their evil imaginations
have no limits” (Psalm 73:7). Rather than
listening to the voice of reason, irrational thoughts
prevail, driven by passionate hatred. For those
who promote anti-Semitism, their hatred is simply
hatred, without any reason or justification for it.
This irrational racial hatred has often led to
inconsistent accusations against the Jews –
such as those above – because the accusations
are not based on logic or merit, but hate.

Finally, the psalm writer says that those with
callous hearts and conceited minds also have
threatening lips, for “they scoff, and speak with
malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression”
(Psalm 73:cool.gif. Anti-Semitism, and other racial
prejudice, often expresses itself in threats,
intimidation, and oppression. Acts of terrorism
against Jews and Jewish icons are an attempt
to instill fear in the lives of Jews.

As the psalm writer concludes, when faced with
unreasonable and unmerited prejudice, there is
only one place to find hope and to remember,
“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my
right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and
afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have
I in heaven but you?”(vv. 23–25). We can have
confidence in God’s presence and guidance no
matter what our circumstances or difficulties.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

(from: Holy Land Moments Daily Devotional)

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