3 Cheshvan 5781 / Wednesday, October 21, 2020 | Torah Reading: Noach
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Jew Hatred & Mark Twain    

Jew Hatred & Mark Twain

Mark Twain is telling those of us now standing at the edge of history that our entire blood-soaked past and present is simply the result of our neighbors’ envy…


Mark Twain knew the real cause of anti-Semitism in America and everywhere else. With his keen nineteenth-century insight honed from years of rough travel and writing witty social commentary, he figured out the deep reason why Jews have been hated, libeled, boycotted, brutalized, exiled and murdered throughout human history.


And he knew why we’re now experiencing skyrocketing anti-Semitism in these times the Prophets called the “End of Days” and the Talmudic sages called the “Birth Pangs of Mashiach.”


At least that’s what this American literary icon claimed.


In an essay called “Concerning the Jews” which originally appeared in Harper's Magazine in 1898 and recently re-appeared in Tablet magazine, Mark Twain reveals what he believes to be “the origin of the feeling” of Jew hatred throughout the world.


“I am convinced that the persecution of the Jew,” Twain writes, “is not due in any large degree to religious prejudice. No, the Jew is a money-getter; and in getting his money he is a very serious obstruction to less capable neighbors who are on the same quest. I think that that is the trouble.


“In estimating worldly values the Jew is not shallow, but deep. With precocious wisdom he found out in the morning of time that some men worship rank, some worship heroes, some worship power, some worship God, and that over these ideals they dispute and cannot unite—but that they all worship money; so he made it the end and aim of his life to get it.


“He was at it in Egypt thirty-six centuries ago; he was at it in Rome … he has been at it ever since. The cost to him has been heavy; his success has made the whole human race his enemy—but it has paid, for it has brought him envy, and that is the only thing which men will sell both soul and body to get.”


Mark Twain is telling those of us now standing at the edge of history (with the long-awaited Messianic Age just around the corner) that our entire blood-soaked past and present is simply the result of our neighbors’ envy.


He couldn’t be more wrong.


Whether a symptom of his time or his psyche, Mark Twain was unable to see beyond the anti-Semitic stereotype of the money-grabbing Jew — and he was convinced that the non-Jews’ “inability” to compete successfully with Jews in business “is a much more hate-inspiring thing than is any detail connected with religion.”


Wrong again. Hating Jews is completely connected with religion — in a real and deep sense. What Mark Twain couldn’t understand is that the root cause of anti-Semitism isn’t financial but spiritual. Anti-Semitism defies both logic and commerce.


Here’s what Mark Twain couldn’t have possibly known: There’s actually an immutable, spiritual law for anti-Semitism to exist. Hashem built this law into the very fabric of existence. And Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar who lived nearly two thousand years ago, revealed this law, which is:


Esau hates Jacob.


Esau was Edom. And Edom became Rome who eventually destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and forced the Jews out of Israel into a two-millennium exile (called the Edomite Exile). Edom today is Europe and the United States. And it’s this never-ending spiritual law of Esau/Edom hating Jacob/Israel that explains why Anti-Semitism has always existed in Europe (and in America to a historically lesser degree).


The Edomite Exile — with its crusades, inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions and genocide — is the longest of all the exiles, but it’s not the last. The fifth and last exile, the holy Zohar tells us, is the Ishmaelite Exile. And this is the exile we’re currently in, the one right before the Messianic Age.


Which means it’s the double whammy of the Ishmaelite Exile (with its Islamic terrorist groups and state sponsors bent on killing Jews) and the Esau-hates-Jacob law that’s now causing anti-Semitism to rage so violently throughout the world.


Only this, and not Mark Twain’s theory of financial envy, explains why the Algerian Army marched to the chant of “slaughter and skin the Jews.” And why a Chassidic Jew was brutally assaulted by an “Arab-looking man” in the lobby of a New York City office building while security guards and witnesses watched and did nothing. And why the European Union labeled Jewish products from the Golan Heights. And why Kuwait Airways ended their service between New York and London just to avoid selling tickets to Israeli Jews. And why Jewish students increasingly feel less safe on prominent US college campuses. And why anti-Semitic crimes in Britain rose last year by 61%. And why Iran threatens to annihilate Israel as the rest of the world remains silent.


The principles of emuna tell us that everything happens by Hashem’s decree — and that everything Hashem decrees is for the best and for a purpose. Nothing occurs by chance; there’s a reason for everything. So there’s definitely a reason why Mark Twain’s 1898 essay “Concerning the Jews” recently resurfaced in a contemporary Jewish magazine. Maybe it’s a message for us who are standing at the cusp of the Messianic Era to strengthen ourselves with emuna, to realize that the anti-Semitic trials of these Edomite and Ishmaelite Exiles are Hashem’s wake-up calls for us to return to Him and get closer to Him — and not because of any logical or financial reason as Mark Twain suggests.


Or maybe the reason why Twain’s essay reappeared now is for us to answer the question he famously asked at the conclusion of that essay but never answered.


What was the question?


It was: “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”


And what’s the answer, especially during these turbulent “End of Days”?



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