Originally featured on The Jewish Press.
Why do people hate us?
What is it about us they despise?
We are leaders; we are at the forefront of scientific research, medicine, and mathematics. We are producers and directors of major films. We are prolific writers, thinkers, and artists.
How is it that a people so small is so disproportionately represented in the world?
There is a drop of bitter resentment, a deeply ingrained part of the human psyche that, upon seeing the triumph of one so small, gives birth to loathing.
It is unpleasant to see a small person win. It is unnerving to see a lowly person, a person abused and ostensibly stripped of honor and dignity, to maintain his humanity and kindness. To demonstrate a Godly element that is higher than animalism.
Humankind ducks his head, subconsciously ashamed of his own failure, disgusted at the success of the humble. Man is shocked that a nation which has been beaten, over and over again – abused, expelled, exterminated – can rise up again and again. Like a phoenix from the ashes, we are reborn, renewed, and as beautiful as ever.
We are man’s mirror. What he shies away from is merely his own reflection. We are showing him his greatest failures and his greatest possible success. And if you know anything about human nature, you know that man’s tendency is to distance himself from potential, to idle in the shadows. Man fears the light, and in seeing another’s, he seeks to extinguish it. Instead of feeding the flame, he attempts to stomp it out.
Yes, we are also humans. Prone to evil like any other, involved in some of the most gruesome schemes. On the other hand, we are shining moral examples. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses, David, and Solomon. Maimonides, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
And yes, even the one the gentiles claim is theirs: Jesus of Nazareth. They labelled us Christkiller, and yet without us, there would be no Jesus.
Mankind looks in his mirror – us – and sees an image which shakes his core: the ultimate human, the highest potential man can reach. He desperately tries to shatter the mirror, to eradicate any trace of truth grinning upon him. But no matter what, the reflection keeps reappearing. In glass, in water, in drops of rain. He flees and hides, but cannot avoid it.
How many times have we been the byword, the object of ridicule and scoffing? How many more times does destruction need to happen before it is clear to man that he is only trying to escape himself?
He is running, trying to hide from the worms which wriggle beneath his heart of stone.
He believes he is evading an outward foe, but who is the true enemy?
It is himself.