Friday, August 22, 2014

Does Rationalism Mandate seeing Judeopathy as Naturalistic?

Here is something that I posted four years ago. It came to mind after reading about the United Nations Human Rights Council, which has condemned Israel more than almost every other country combined, and for which the only officially-mandated topic for its sessions is human rights abuses by Israel.

Is Judeopathy (a.k.a. antisemitism, but I dislike that word as it is inherently and deliberately misleading) a naturalistic phenomenon? That is to say, can it be entirely explained in terms of political, social and psychological reasons? Or is there some metaphysical factor involved?

Prof. Menachem Kellner explains that one of the differences between the mystical school of thought (as represented by R. Yehudah HaLevi) and Rambam's school of thought is that according to the former, there is an inherent metaphysical difference between Jews and non-Jews, whereas according to the latter there is none. From this and other things it probably follows that according to Rambam, Judeopathy is a naturalistic phenomenon.

Personally, I can't bring myself to believe that. About 12 years ago I engaged in an extensive study of Judeopathy. (I even wrote a book on it, largely based on the teachings of Rav Moshe Shapiro, that I never published.) In the course of my research, one study that I read (Grosser and Halperin, Anti-Semitism, Citadel Press 1976) concluded that there are one hundred and eighteen factors that must be invoked to account for antisemitism! The longevity, extent, and irrationality of the phenomenon led me to the conclusion that it cannot be reduced to a solely naturalistic phenomenon.

Does that mean that I am not a rationalist? That depends on how one defines and applies rationalism.


  1. If Judeopathy is a naturalistic phenomenon then the level of Divine Intervention must be great indeed, in order to bring about all the various factors which lead to this persistent hatred.

    I personally tend to think that there is a combination of naturalistic elements and "essentialist" elements, which pertain to inherent differences between Jew and Gentile.

    I must mention in passing that this is quite an interesting issue which the Admor has raised.

  2. Interesting question. It should be said that even if you do hold that there is a metaphysical difference (something beyond scientific proof)this doesn't necessarily logically entail Judeopathy. If anything there would still be the problem of explaining how the unconscious metaphysical difference manages to have a causal effect on the social behavior.
    I'm going to have to agree with the Rambam again.

  3. If you hold that anything does not have a natural explanation then you don't think you can maintain a claim to be a rationalist.

    I suppose you could stretch it by saying that Judeopathy is about as unlikely as evolution to occur on its own and therefore, while supporting it's natural explanation as a phenomenological explanation of a metaphysical reality. Personally I'd cut the metaphysics here as I find it very irrational (and even unacceptable) that there is a metaphysical difference between Jew and non-Jew. I'm with Rambam as well on this.

  4. Is it correct to group many different hatreds under the all inclusive appellation of Judeopathy?

    After all there are many types:

    Religious hatred (like the inquisition)

    Ethnic (like the Nazis)

    and Political (like anti-Israel bias)

    Although some may overlap perhaps there are different motivations behind different types of Judeopathy

  5. Just to clarify - I am not saying that I necessarily believe that there is an inherent metaphysical difference between Jews and non-Jews. I am wondering if that can be detached from the idea that Judeopathy is a metaphysical phenomenon.

    1. That is a really, really good question. Judeopathy (great term) seems to be inextricably linked to Jewish prophetic destiny in general, which is the outcome of the entire concept of Matan Torah - a metaphysical concept. While I would like to say that our differences are on a national level and not on an individual level, I have witnessed too many cases of "a pintele Yid" to believe that this is the case... Brit Avot lives in us, we can't help it.

  6. Rabbi,
    I don't know how this affects your theory, but I think it worth mentioning.

    Sociologist Rodney Stark studied mass outbreaks of deadly judeopathy in the middle ages. In his book "One True G-d" he discusses the results in his chapter "G-d's Wrath".

    He concludes that such outbreaks of violence are very prone to happen when a large monotheistic religion is threatened by some heresy or other monotheism. He catalogs events from the time the church was putting down the Waldenians and whatnot. He also, naturally, discusses the crusades. It is notable to mention that when the crusaders (contrary to the wishes of the Church, by the way) were massacring Jews, moslems, who were also a large monotheism at war with religious opponents, were doing the same and in pretty much the same numbers.

    For sheer social scientific rigor, Stark's essay cannot be beat.

  7. I don't understand. We killed God. Of course they should hate us bitterly. It's perfectly natural.

  8. What do you mean by non-naturalistic? Are you saying there is some supernatural cause for people hating Jews?

    If so, I agree that you have to say that in this area you are not a rationalist.

    You can say that hatred of Jews is not justified, that it is based on misconceptions, that it is the result of non-rational evolutionary drives, even that it is a cultural meme that persists when it doesn't convey any survival value to those who hold it.

    But to say that there is some reason beyond nature for Jew hatred specifically seems to me to be unjustifiable.

  9. Jewish fate, and per force the hatred of Jews by the nations, is of course not not "naturalistic." Read the Tochachot. Read the prophets. Will the war of Gog and Magog come about naturalistically? Is the redemption a naturalistic process? ואם תלכו עמי קרי

  10. Drashot Haran, in the drasha on the end of last week's parshah, says the primary reason is because we are different and seperated; primarily because they reject our faith. He notes that when Moshiach comes, their will be no longer hatred and explains it based on the removal of the causes.

  11. Every instance of hatred for Jews and the People of Israel can always be credibly explained at the time, or with hindsight, in a reasonable way.

    What is impossible to explain reasonably and rationally is the historical totality of both Jewish survival and hatred towards the People of Israel (whether the latter is directed against individual Jews, communities, or an independent Jewish nation).

    It is the future that always seems rationally impossible, whether you are thinking of Jewish survival or hatred towards Jews.

    Case in point: Few reasonable people anywhere on the political spectrum could possibly have conceived during the heyday of the Oslo process, that in the end Israel would try to see that process through, and that the result would be the wall-to-wall hatred and delegitimization of Israel by the entire family of nations, condemnation, isolation, and diplomatic handcuffs that essentially make any future defensive military action by Israel impossible or, if taken, backfire into diplomatic losses of immense proportions that threaten the very existence of the state.

    No, it isn't rational. One can acknowledge the value of reason and support rationalistic Judaism, but at the same time acknowledge that not *everything* is rational.

    On a more positive note: Love isn't rational. Never choose who and what you love based on public opinion, popularity, or the consensus of the "international community." Keep loving despite them when you know that it is right!

    Love God, Israel, and Torah.

  12. Rafi writes: "If you hold that anything does not have a natural explanation then you don't think you can maintain a claim to be a rationalist."

    Where did Rabbi Slifkin say or imply this? All he did was ask a question: "Does that mean that I am not a rationalist?"

  13. If you don't want to use "anti-Semitism" (understandably) and are willing to use a term that is not commonly understood, then you should use "Judeomisy" ("Jew-hatred"). "Judeopathy" would mean either "suffering of Jews" or "suffering from Jews."

  14. Strictly in response to your question, I'd say that you can remain a rationalist and still be unable to rationally explain EVERYTHING at the present moment.

    However, as far as "Judeopathy" as you call it, goes, I feel there are very rational psychological reasons that underlie it.

    Historically, there have been many reasons to hate Jews. Vehement anti-Paganism is naturally offensive to Pagans, and the Christian Deicide libel is pretty offensive to Christians, to list but two.

    In contemporary secular society, however, for one, Judaism and the Jewish belief is (as well as basically any religious belief with strict moral codes), at its core, at odds with many values that society at large has come to embrace, such as egalitarianism and total ethnic universalism. If I was in the shoes of a totally secular individual who strongly believed in those values (which I actually was but two years ago!) the idea that a group of people would want to live in their own country with some sort of quasi-religious-ethnic label (aka The Jew) and follow their own ways (aka The Torah) which seem anachronistic and barbaric to me would naturally anger me too!

    And to top it all off, I regularly read all of these biased news sources and all of my secular idols like Noam Chomsky (who is even a Jew, so I'm not actually being racist!) tell me that they're oppressing people and the like, and it totally fits into my skeptical Imperialist stereotype of any first world nation, and there goes my support for anything Israeli.

  15. I had a philosophy professor who generally stressed the value of rationalism but stated that he is perhaps inclined to believe that anti-Semitism is somehow super-naturalist.

    (By the way, I don't see any connection whatsoever between how one views the Jews and how one views anti-Semitism. One can easily side with the Rambam concerning the Jews but believe that anti-Semitism is somehow super-naturalist.)

  16. Adrian,
    Perhaps your point can be summed up like this:
    Every iteration of human ideas from paganism to christianity to modern leftism has had a reason to hate the Jews. Therefore, there is a rational reason to believe that Judeopathy is a naturalistic phenomenon.

    Okay. Let's go with that.

    That leaves you with one more thing to explain:

    Why did human ideas evolve in such a way as to provide every iteration of those ideas with a reason to hate the Jews?

  17. Kudos to Well-Wisher. I am sure you realize that scores of people did see the consequences of Oslo. Let me rephrase what you say: The supporters of Oslo were generally "reasonable", i.e., deniers of the metaphysical.

    If Jewish rationalism means denying the metaphysical, it is very dangerous. The metaphysical is the heart of Torah. Of course, false mysticism is dangerous as well.

  18. Can't you just see it as a general case of midah kaneged midah? Basicaly, the tanach says all over the place if you sin and go against hashem then hashem will punish you, usually at the hands of foreign nations. Perfect example is the Arabs in eretz yisrael - it says in tanach that if we don't follow xyz then hashem will punish us with an "am lo am", a people who are not a people - what better description of the "palestinians" is there than that?

    1. The flip side to that is the Aish argument that antisemitism is the result of the Nations rebelling against God by persecuting His holy and righteous people, Israel, who . This too appears to be a core Orthodox explanation. Alas, you can't have punishment for sin and punishment for virtue as two valid explanations without some pretty serious acrobatics, although one has sat through sermons where both hypotheses have been plonked down within minutes of each other without any apparent discomfort or harm to the speaker.

      The other problem with the measure-for-measure hypothesis is the inconvenient-for-some reality of a wildly, if not miraculously, successful Jewish state which routinely defeats or holds back the Arabs. It's a matter of perspective, where your glass might be half-empty with a punishment-by-Arabs and a hostile planetary population, and someone else's half-full by a reward with a secularly and religiously committed Jewish homeland in a World which respects Jews as never before. Tough one, isn't it?

  19. I believe that any definition of rationalism should be based on what is the most rational conclusion, not what is the most materialistic conclusion.

  20. Rabbi Slifkin - You wrote: "About 12 years ago I engaged in an extensive study of Judeopathy."

    Did you study the social sciences of hate, bullying and persecution of "the other"?

    So much of human behavior and political behavior can be observed in school kids, and even high school kids. Look at how brutally they bully "the other" - the kids who are different, who don't fit in.

    Adults only pretend they are not children, and try to act sophisticated. Psychologically, most people do not mature in their ideas of hate until old age, unless they work on it.

    In Europe everyone hates the gypsies. There will always be hate, it's natural.

    Jews are easy to hate, we are always different and that is why "Judeopathy" is always present. We're the bullied and beat up kid that just wont run away, change schools or die. So the bullying continues.

    Being anti-black is still very strong in the south of the USA. Why? Haven't they gotten past all that? No. They still fly the confederate flag in places all over the south. Hate stays in families and communities, it survives war. It's the last tradition to die.

    Also, as long as that small, weak, hated, and bullied victim keeps standing up after the beating, then the “strong” or “winner” cannot stand proud. This applies to every religious fight against Judaism. And as much as the secular want to deny it, religion still informs and fuels enormous passion in people.

    “Judeopathy” seems so obviously natural and reflects so much of standard human social behavior.

    I vote for the natural and rational explanations.

  21. Why must you be so black and white? Does one have to be entirely rationalist or entirely not?

    One does not need to resort to studies or literature searches to understand that Jew-hatred transcends the rational. One recent example will suffice:

    Every year Toronto has a gay pride parade. This year the big controversy has been the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid wanting to have a float condemning Israel during the parade.

    Now think about it: Israel allows gays to live in peace and express their culture. It affords them full civil rights and recognizes their marital relationships when it comes to work benefits, etc.

    The Palestinian authority holds that homosexuality is illegal. Gays in the PA can be beaten or killed without recourse to whatever passes for the law in that terrorist state.

    And who do the gays want to condemn?

    Need I say more?

    1. True, Sir Garnel, things don't have to be black and white, but with all due respect, your example of Toronto's Gay Pride Parade doesn't work very well, as in this case the mechanism can be explained in mundane terms.

      First, the political Gay movement is a comparatively recent phenomenon which found natural allies...or, arguably grew out of the Left, the Neo- or Neo-Neo-Marxist movement, whatever jargon one wishes to apply. This results in an ideological and political horse-trading where, for example, support for Gay interests by other groups is reciprocated with support for all or most of the "social justice" agenda by the politicized sector of the Gay community. Temujin hasn't seen studies on this, but he would wager that the levels antipathy against Israel in the Gay community statistically mirror that of the Left in general.

      And, secondly, while this antipathy undoubtedly involves antisemitism, it's a little more complex than a blanket irrational hostility. Again, it mirrors the position of the Left in which there are Good Jews and Bad Jews." Good Jews, as we all know, are religiously ultra-liberal, secular and "tolerant," i.e., comrades in the messianism of social justice. Bad Jews, as we all know, are religiously strict and politically conservative, hence lethal members of the hated "reactionary" forces in the Marxian mythical narratives. Our friend Mr Dov Bear's blog is a shining example of this phenomenon, although most Gay ideologues are not as theologically conflicted or intellectually lazy and muddled as he is (all of which makes the sport of Bear-baiting easy and enjoyable).

      Nevertheless, your conclusion about the dual nature of Jew hatred is sound, in Temujin's venerable opinion. While it manifests itself with complex processes and a multitude of component parts which can be understood on rational, materialistic terms, if one stand back for a broader view, there does indeed appear to be a strong meta-historical element behind it which is best approached theologically.


  22. Michapeset,
    Your theory leaves one notable counterexample-- the Left.

    You see, the Left has decided that its own "in-group" namely Western Culture is bad and that all other cultures are good. Witness the lack of condemnation of the felonies of the Third World, the lack of condemnation of the horrors of Communism, the lack of condemnation of Islamic Terrorism, etc.

    Yet, the Left finds it in its heart to condemn Israel and Judaism just the same.

    So, here we have an ideology that has no problem with the "other" but still has a problem with the Jews.

    You need to account for that.

  23. Garnel,
    Who do the gays want to condemn? Traditional religious folk including Mormons, Orthodox Jews, Catholics, etc. Also how about everybody who contributed to the Prop 8 campaign or voted for the proposition?

    Oddly there is little condemnation for Islamic homophobia among the American gay community (unless, of course, you talk to my right wing gay friends) They won't hesitate to condemn that.

  24. "(O)ne study...concluded that there are one hundred and eighteen factors that must be invoked to account for antisemitism! The longevity, extent, and irrationality of the phenomenon led me to the conclusion that it cannot be reduced to a solely naturalistic phenomenon. "

    Lets play with some numbers here. Lets say that you believe, with 99% certainty, that each of these 118 factors are purely natural, and that they're independent. Doing the math, you are now .99^118, or 30.5% sure that there's a completely natural explanation for antisemitism.

    Maybe this works with evolution, too. Lets say you are 99% sure about 118 different specific theories about how 118 different creatures evolved. Does this mean that you are only 30.5% sure that evolution explains how all these creatures evolved?

    Kindly don't pick apart the math too much; I realize its flaws. It's the concept that I'd rather you focus on.

  25. Ari,

    That's a great question and one that should be the focus of some serious academic research. I can only speculate.

    I am very much a fan of paradox so I am not at all opposed to saying both "it must be this way" and "there are rational reasons everyone hates us".

    If I had to give a short response to your terrific question, I'd venture to say that the dominant worldview of the day has always been a reflection on the basic human condition, albeit with modifications adjusting for historical and regional context.

    Humans are by nature fragile beings who succumb to temptation much more often than we rise above it. As a side point that sort of fits into what I'm saying, I view the Halachah (and the psychological conditioning it inculcates upon the human), to put such a profound system very simply, as a cure for the weaknesses of the human condition.

    But by nature some people are very skeptical toward professed cures because of various reasons (be they rational or not) that lead to all sorts of rubbish, like vaccine, AIDS, and even evolutionary theory denialism. And those people who are on the denial side end up, more often than not, vehemently hating those who oppose them. (The reverse is also true too, and the same applies, unfortunately, for Jews versus Non-Jews as well.)

    So I don't really have an answer to your question, but I hope at least some of what I wrote was of value to you.


  26. Michapeset said...
    “In Europe everyone hates…. There will always be hate [whether of Jews or non-Jews], it's natural.”
    A very interesting statement. Makes me wonder, 1. what would be the general logic for that, and 2, what would be the evolutionary logic for it.

  27. Adrian,
    I would suggest a different (although not nearly satisfactory) answer to my question.

    1) Jews are widely dispersed people. Not everybody hates, say, the Navajo because they're almost completely confined to the American Southwest. Perhaps if they were more widespread, there would be more hatred of them? Who knows.

    2) Jews sort of stick together in their own social networks. In so doing, they pose a threat to various powerful institutions (religious groups in power, political powers that be, etc).

    That's all I can think up at this moment. But its the start of an answer. But I do think that the answer is that Hashem decreed that the Nations of the world would hate us, and so it was.

  28. Antisemitism is certainly semi-natural. It does not in any way violate the laws of Nature. Also, many instances of antisemitism could be explained naturally in sociological or other terms.

    Who nevertheless deduces from the history of antisemitism that the phenomenon defies natural explanation, must, I think, concede that one could similarly conclude from the history of the evolution of life that evolution defies a natural explanation. One can acknowledge that random-chance mutation is, in many instances and in many ways, a good approximation for the driver of evolutionary steps, and yet hold that in the bigger picture, it is an illusion.

    Moreover, if an aspect of mankind is not natural, how would this aspect have arisen in a natural way?

  29. "Just to clarify - I am not saying that I necessarily believe that there is an inherent metaphysical difference between Jews and non-Jews. I am wondering if that can be detached from the idea that Judeopathy is a metaphysical phenomenon."

    I don't understand the question. Do you think the Rambam would have said the survival of the jewish people is a naturalistic phenomenon and not a result of hashgacha klalit and the RBS"O keeping his promises? God forbid. Yet that doesn't imply a metaphysical difference between jewish and gentile souls. So why must antisemitism be a function of such metaphysical differences? In addition, it's not clear to me that Prof Kellner proved his point, or for that matter, that the point means all that much. When the rambam says in mishna torah וְכָל מִי שְׁהוּא אַכְזָרִי וְאֵינוּ מְרַחֵם, יָחוּשׁ לְיֵחוּסוֹ--שְׁאֵין הָאַכְזָרִיּוּת מְצוּיָה אֵלָא בַּגּוֹיִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "אַכְזָרִי הֵמָּה וְלֹא יְרַחֵמוּ" does this refute Prof Kellner's point? not necessarily, perhaps this trait is a function of culture. The rambam's null hypothesis is quite harsh for gentiles (see the sridei eysh's letters) and to explain this acc. to Prof. Kellner's hypothesis, one must posit that he sees a huge difference between cultures, with jews being impacted by the torah, their heritage etc.

  30. Ari,

    I agree that it definitely seems like the world has some sort of supernatural bias against Jews, but just think of the theological implications of stating such a thing. Even if you believe that God interferes in the workings of the world, and the extent of which that He does is certainly up for debate, I think it's a bit much to claim that God has put a permanent hatred of Jews into the core of every other human being. I'd much prefer to explain the phenomena naturally than have to grapple with the theological implications of God effectively being responsible for every case of Antisemitism.


  31. I just want to add that it's not much different from rambam's attitude to women. His null hypothesis is fairly negative e.g. ואף על פי שיש לה שכר, ציוו חכמים שלא ילמד אדם את בתו תורה: מפני שרוב הנשים, אין דעתן מכוונת להתלמד, והן מוציאין דברי תורה לדברי הבאי, לפי ענייות דעתן

    yet he also famously writes
    ולחם ובשר זה, הוא לידע ביאור האסור והמותר וכיוצא בהן משאר המצוות. ואף על פי שדברים אלו, דבר קטן קראו אותם חכמים, שהרי אמרו חכמים דבר גדול מעשה מרכבה, ודבר קטן הוויה דאביי ורבא; אף על פי כן, ראויין הן להקדימן: שהן מיישבין דעתו של אדם תחילה, ועוד שהן הטובה הגדולה שהשפיע הקדוש ברוך הוא ליישוב העולם הזה, כדי לנחול חיי העולם הבא. ואפשר שיידעם הכול--גדול וקטן, איש ואישה, בעל לב רחב ובעל לב קצר.

    women may be less likely to achieve this knowledge for the rambam, but they CAN or individual women can.
    this is also why I wrote that I don't think Prof. Kellner proves his case. The rambam thinks women can surmount his basic presumption of אין דעתן מכוונת להתלמד, והן מוציאין דברי תורה לדברי הבאי, לפי ענייות דעתן

    with effort. But does that mean he doesn't think there is a biological (if not metaphysical) difference between man and woman? did the rambam actually believe any difference he noted wrt intellectual achievement was cultural? Today, now that women are routinely educated, we may look back and say that the rambam's opinion was of the women of his times, not of our times, i.e. that his attitude is largely cultural. But did the rambam think so? Or rather did he not more likely think that women were born less capable of intellectual achievement. I think the latter is almost a sure thing, b/c if he thought it was a cultural phenomenon, due to lack of education, why not educate the women? Surely his opinion that it's mostly a futile endeavormust is due to an assumption of innate differences. And who says he didn't think the same of other distinctions, that there are different innate predispositions not just for men/women but also for jews/nonjews that both can overcome but are relatively unlikely to?
    That said, I tend to think that the rambam saw innate differences between men/women, but not between jew and gentile = I'm just not sure Prof. Kellner has proven this.

  32. Please, no more anonymous comments. Use your real name or a pen name if you are afraid.

  33. I also just want to say that there are other reasons for using pen names other than being afraid. Really...! :)

  34. Of course, this issue is extremely complex and certainly cannot be covered properly in a short blog. There are many factors that induce anti-Semitism, not the least that the most widely read book, the NT is laced with it.

    That being said, there is one factor that I don’t see all that often discussed. By and large all societies throughout history have tended to distrust the stranger or the “different”, and blame them for their shortcomings, and even persecute them when things have gone badly. The reason this stands out more so for us (Jews), is because, most other sub-sects of society historically tended to assimilate or otherwise disappear under persecution, but the Jews have managed (maybe miraculously??) to survive. So, the irony is that our own success contributes to this constant harassment.

  35. It should be worth noting that even among mystics, there is no difference inherent to non-Jews that cannot be rectified through conversion - except according to the Kuzari. Additionally, there are some Chassidic thinkers that maintain the Rambam's view that there are actually no differences whatsoever.

  36. Ari,

    It’s a good question, and I have to think about it.

    My first thought was that most of the trend-setting Left in America and Israel are Jews. And no one is more critical than family (including, but not limited to, a mother-in-law).

    But seriously speaking, I’ll give it some thought and write a response in a couple of days (after a good yom menuchah!).

  37. Rav Slifkin, you wrote that the multiplicity of studied reasons for antisemitism leads you to suspect that it must be beyond "naturalistic phenomenon". But I think that the case of Am Yisrael is unique enough that it would have a far more varied reaction in terms of Judeophobia than other forms of hatred. For instance, Jews have eluded classification by gentiles for eras. Are they a race (of course not); an ethnicity (still lacking); a nation (yes but more than that); a religion (again, more than just that); a cultural heritage? Since Jews evade categorization by normative gentile norms which clearly separate nation, religion, race, ethnicity, and culture; hatred towards them will be similarly confused and multifaceted and from a multitude of angles.

    Also of significance is the unique nature of the Jewish exile, where the entire nation was dispersed as minorities in a plethora of countries for an extended period of time, something unique in history; and while they lost to some extent their national identification, they still did not gain the full national identification of the countries they lived in.

  38. The word, "Judeopathy..."

    Is that a diagnosis of Woody Allen?

  39. Personally I believe anti semitism to be supernatural, its just to powerful and deeply ingrained within the world for me to call it "natural" and not "supernatural." Despite that, at times I consider the possibility of the Torah's declaration of the Jews being a nation pretty much condemned to massive amounts of pain and suffering being a self fulfilling prophecy. Maybe its not tough to subjugate to genocide a nation that believes that their suffering is a fulfillment of a prophecy. Or maybe its easy to justify genocide of a nation with prophecies of their own demise. Just a thought... -Jake

  40. “Behold, I make you least among the nations; you are utterly despised” (Obadiah 1:2).

    “Rabbi Eleizar bar Abin says, ‘No calamity comes to the world, except on account of Israel” (BT Yevamot 63a).

    "Come and see: When the truly virtuous engage in Torah, all those potencies of other nations and all their forces are overturned and no longer rule the world... But if not, the donkey causes Israel to go into exile, falling into the hands of the nations and being ruled by them” (Zohar 1:243a).

    “They conspired against him to kill him [Genesis 37:18]. All the more so, other nations toward Israel! Come and see the consequences of that excessive love!” (Zohar 1:183a).

    “All nursing of hatred of Israel is based on this [jealousy]” (Zohar 2:112a).

    “Come and see: All nations of the world and all kings of the world are empowered only on account of Israel. Egypt did not rule over the whole world until Israel came, entering exile; then they overwhelmed all nations of the world. Babylon overpowered all nations of the world only so that Israel would be exiled among them. Edom overpowered all nations of the world only on account of Israel - so that they would be exiled among them [cf. BT Pesachim 87b: The blessed Holy One scattered Israel amongst the heathens only so that they may accumulate converts]. For these nations had been subdued by other nations and were lower than all of them, but on account of Israel they became powerful... Why? Because Israel alone corresponds to all nations of the world” (Zohar 2:6a).

    “The insult frequently hurled at them (Jews) in ancient times that they were lepers (cf. Manetho) must be read as a projection: ‘They keep apart from us as if we were lepers’” (Freud, Moses & Monotheism p.134, fn.1).

  41. Is Judeopathy (a.k.a. antisemitism, but I dislike that word as it is inherently and deliberately misleading)

    Richard Feynman describes how he invented his own mathematical notation in his youth because his own notation made more sense to him than the standard notation. However, he discarded it when he realized that he could not communicate his ideas to others in his own language.

  42. In your studies how did judeowtvr compare with oppression or hate of other minorities. Were there 100 factors involved there as well?

  43. a.k.a. antisemitism, but I dislike that word as it is inherently and deliberately misleading

    How is it misleading?

    1. Anwar Sadat was asked by Walter Cronkite if he was an antisemite. He skated away from answering directly by saying "I am a Semite myself" which is, of course, misleading. Cronkite who naturally let him off the hood meant "do you hate Jews" but Sadat twisted it by having it mean "Hatred of people who speak Semitic languages" which is NOT the true meaning of the word in normal usage. There is no such thing as a phenomenon of people hating people who speak Semitic languages. That is why the word "antisemitism" (which I write without a hyphen because there is no such thing as "Semitism") is essentially meaningless. I prefer Pinsker's word "Judeophobia".

  44. Zohar: "I don't understand. We killed God. Of course they should hate us bitterly. It's perfectly natural."

    Except that:
    a) They believe he needed to die
    b) Even if you ignore (a) that would only apply to Christians.

  45. Racism against dark skinned people in the United States is equally irrational and equally vile.

    1. I think you are using the word "irrational" differently from how I am using it. It's certainly unjustifiable. But it's understandable that it exists, because dark skinned people look different, and people are often prejudiced against those who look very different.

    2. I (somehow) agree and disagree with both Charles Hall and Natan Slifkin.

      No one dislikes blacks simply and only because of the color of their skin. Anyone who says otherwise is simply a fool. Rather, those who dislike them do so because of the character traits that are associated with them, rightly or wrongly. Likewise, their tastes in music, fashion, their language, etc. Again, one who denies the differences here is simply fooling himself. R.N.S said people are "prejudiced against those who look different." But its not simply looking different, its acting different also. And its not just PREjudice, which means making a decision before you have the facts. Those who dislike blacks do so on the collective statistical evidence, even though it is possible that any given black individual will prove an exception to the general rule.

      There is also another category here, people who feel blacks are mentally inferior. It is clear, as evidenced simply by professional sports leagues, that on the average, blacks have certain superior physical genes than whites. It stands to reason then that whites have certain mental superiorities. There is paucity of data here, because liberals have suppressed any evidence or testing in this area, out of fear of what the data will confirm. For all these reasons, it is rational to be racist. Indeed, the entire world was racist up until the last 50 years, and may yet be still. (We cannot know people's true feelings in countries with forced discrimination laws.) I express no opinion on the morality of it, because the truth is, its complicated. The Torah is itself racist. And again, all of society was openly racist up until recently, and one cannot say they were all immoral. But at a minimum it is rational.

      Now, consider Jews. Jews also have certain characteristics. The Talmud itself says as much, giving some positive traits ( a sense of compassion) and some mixed (brazenness). Jews also look and act differently than their non Jewish neighbors. So if racism is rationale, as it is, why isn't anti-Semitism? Perhaps you will say because Jews have done much good for the world? That is true, but so have blacks, and yet it is still rationale to be racist, as you wrote.

      I think this has to be fleshed out more.

    3. How can the Torah be "racist" if anyone of any color or national origin can convert to Judaism? Yes, the Torah relates to Jews in a different way than non-Jews, but this is not racial, obviously. There is nothing in the Judaism like there was in pre-1970's Mormonism which didn't allow Blacks to become Mormons

  46. From this and other things it probably follows that according to Rambam, Judeopathy is a naturalistic phenomenon.
    On the contrary, if there is no fundamental difference between Jews and non-Jews, why would hatred be natural? Differences in lifestyle and beliefs do not seem to explain it, because the animosity does not seem to abate even when these fade.

    In this sense, the "mystical" approach is much more "natural" and elegant as a theory, because one factor explains everything.

  47. I agree with you, R' Slifkin.

    Anti-Semitism is so irrational that I actually consider it a fairly convincing proof for the existence of God and the truth of Judaism.

    A basic message of the Torah is that if we sin, we will be exiled and otherwise experience bad material conditions (including war, oppression, drought, etc.), but that if we repent and follow the mitzvot, things will be good for us.

    The utterly strange, self-contradictory, ever-changing existence of anti-Semitism throughout the last several thousand years, and its complete uniqueness, illustrates that there must be something beyond normal cause and effect behind it. On a more positive note, the same could be said of the extraordinary impact of Jews and Judaism upon the world.

    This is not inconsistent with (Orthodox Jewish) rationalism, since we have to believe at some level that God controls history -- otherwise how could He cause the exile or the ingathering of the exiles?

    Ironically, however, this conclusion seems harsh and unattractive if not tempered with what is normally associated (not necessarily correctly, in my view) only with mysticism -- the view that everything is ultimately for the good. It is hard to believe that any bad thing was in some sense the will of God, but it is even harder perhaps to believe that God would do so many bad things to us and it wasn't even for our ultimate benefit in some real way.

  48. Just a suggestion:
    "Antisemitism" was a euphemism, designed to replace crude terms with one which sounded more refined. Calling it "Judeopathy" makes it sound even more abstract, almost medically sanitary.

    Say what you mean. Call it "Jew hatred"

  49. I don't think "Judeopathy" is very hard to understand at all, rationally.

    We hold ourselves out to have a special connection with God. We do this through the Torah - whether or not one holds the Torah to be of divine authorship, the Jews have presented the Torah to the world, and the Torah describes a special relationship between the Jews and God.

    We follow a religion that is designed to keep us separate from others. Often, this involves requiring special privileges and/or exemptions from the laws or customs of the places in which we live. Kashrut and Shabbat are the most obvious examples. Brit Milah is another - we tend to see European attempts to restrict Brit Milah as a manafestation of anti-semitism (sorry, I'm going to stick to the old fashioned term), but if we can try to look at things more objectively for a moment, it makes perfect sense that western society would consider this act, performed on a baby way below any reasonable age of consent, to violate its norms. There are many more examples, and as I wrote, this changes depending on the time and place, but what does not change is that we, more than any other people, have insisted on practicing our own religion, with its unique set of rituals and requirements, as a minority among other peoples with very different norms.

    And sometimes - maybe some will disagree with this statement, but I think that if we are honest with ourselves, we should be willing to admit that we can be quite egotistical about ourselves, our religion, and the special relationship with God that we claim to possess.

    I think it is completely natural that when a person or a group of people claims the position and exemptions that I have noted above, others will look more closely, more critically, at that person or people. That's why I believe the world looks more closely at the Jews, and magnifies every defect or perceived defect. I see nothing supernatural about this. In general, I think people have a great deal of respect for Jews, when they act in a way that is above reproach. But when even a few Jews act other than in such a way, it reflects on the entire group, because it is as a group that we claim the special relationship with God and the special privileges that we claim. I believe this is what the Torah is trying to tell us with the story of Achan. That as we embark on our journey as a people, we will be judged by the failings of every individual, because we are entering the stage of history as a single people, with a special mission and destiny in which we are all united, for better or for worse.

    By the way, while I rarely agree with Yaakov Menken, I would like to add that when he (and others) sometimes claim that anti-haredi positions represent a type of anti-semitism, I believe that he has a fair point. I believe that the explanation I have given for anti-semitism applies very much to anti-harediism among Jews. Just as the Jews claim special privileges among the nations, so do the haredim claim special privileges among the Jews (the draft exemption being the most obvious example). And I believe that just as there is an intrinsic respect for the Jews that turns to hatred when the Jews fail to live up to the special status that they claim, such is true also for the haredim. I think that in both cases, we (or the haredim) should look at this as a challenge, because if we really are who we say we are, we should be living on a higher plane of moral and ethical behavior. And if we are not really who we say we are, we should probably learn to be quieter and blend in more with our surroundings.

    1. Baruch Gitlin-
      Both Christianity and Islam claim their believers are "chosen people" no less than the Jews and both claim special priviledges for themselves no less than the Jews, yet no one seems to blame them when some of their people go bad. I would like to know how groups like CAIR (the Islamic advocacy group in the US) are relating to all the horrors those who belong to their religion are carrying out these days. We Jews are always falling over ourselves to say "how ashamed we are as Jews" when the Arab child was murdered recently, yet CAIR doesn't feel the need to say anything more than "we oppose terrorism" or "these ISIS-Al-Qaida people are not really Muslims".

      Regarding the attempts to ban Brit Milah, I certainly view it as antisemitism, pure and simple. Judaism (and Christianity and Islam, for that matter) are ancient religions whose customs and beliefs are well known for centuries. They are not weird cults with strange rituals that just sprang up yesterday. Freedom of religion is a basic right, recognized as one of the "Four Freedoms" President Roosevelt enumerated and is IIRC recognized in the UN Charter of Human Rights, and Brit Milah is one of thse basic rights. Those who are trying to eradicate it and NOT concerned with "the rights of the child", just as these same people who excoriate Israel are indifferent to the horrors carried out by Assad, ISIS, HIZBULLAH and others. They want to eracicate Judaism, period. They are not the first, Roman Emperor Hadrian used the same excuses 2000 years ago.

    2. I am not sure what "special priviledges" the Jews in pre-Holocaust Europe were asking for. All the German Jews wanted was equal rights and they were thrilled with the opportunity to die for the Kaiser just like their non-Jewish neighbors so that he could have as many colonies in Africa as his cousin, the British King George V.

      Seriously, the demand of the Jews in Europe in the 19th century was Emancipation, equal rights. They weren't asking for anything more. It was this that ignited the genocidal antisemitism that swept the continent later. Sure, Jews claimed a special relationship with G-d but all religions make the same claim. Yes, Jews were disproportionately (I hate that word!) in professions like law and medicine, but this came as a result of merit, not any sort of "affirmative action" which was claimed as some sort of right as some groups today demand.

    3. Christians don't claim anything akin to them being the chosen people. They simply believe Christ is the salvation irrespective of who is chosen or not (while actually still allowing for the Israelites to being the Chosen ones)

  50. Rabbi, one understands your dislike of the term anti-Semitism. For those who may not have come across this linguistic curiosity, the term which was coined in the late 1800s by the German Wilhelm Marr, a pompous Jew-hating narr, was meant to replace the apparently pedestrian and gauche word, Judenhasse (Jew-hatred), with a more “scholarly,” “racially-scientific” and genteel-sounding moniker which, presumably, would be less offensive to the delicate salon ladies and the lofty philosophers of the time who had moved from religiously-based Jew-hatred to one based on “race.” It is certainly a misnomer and in the least etymologically vague in that everyone knows…or should know…that in common usage “Semitic” applies almost exclusively to Jews…not to mention that in reality there no actual people who can be pinned as “Semites,” but “Semitic,” or Hamito-Semitic” (now reclassified as “Afro-Asian”) language groups.

    Nevertheless, Temujin struggles with your term “Judeopathy,” as it reminds him of the pseudo-sciences of homeopathy and naturopathy. Given the intellectual levels of our times, one would hardly be surprised to encounter folks getting excited enough in their search for the Fountain of Youth and seek remedies containing bits of Jews, perish the thought. There may even be historical precedent for such in late medieval naturopathic prescriptions, alluded to in literature by Macbeth’s witches: Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf / Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf / Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark / Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark / Liver of blaspheming Jew. But seriously, a few decades ago one read an essay which in passing argued for retaining the universally-understood term Anti-Semitism, but modifying its spelling to antisemitism to underline it as a neologism which should not be read literally.

    1. "Nevertheless, Temujin struggles"

      love the avoidance of the word "I"

      Recently read that R Meir'l Premishlaner referred to himself as "Meir'l", to avoid using the word "I", as in "Meir'l says, Meir'l wants" ,etc

  51. I'm wondering, is there such phenomenon of an atheist being Antisemitic?


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