As we experience a frightening increase in anti-Semitic attacks here in the U.S., both in number and intensity, it is important that we adopt the proper frame of mind. Here are some pointers from the Torah as to how we can be proactive in curbing anti-Semitism:
Anti-Semitism is a memo from Hashem. When the descendants of Yaakov began to integrate into Egyptian culture, Hashem caused the Egyptians to reject the Jews. When we become too comfortable in galus and we begin slowly adopting the secular lifestyle, Hashem sends us reminders that we are “His children – the chosen nation” and that we should act accordingly. The recent events are a reminder for us to take inventory of our own lives and make the necessary adjustments.
Our forefather Yaakov, when preparing for his monumental encounter with Eisav, took a three-pronged approach – gifts, prayer, and battle. Yaakov’s approach remains our guidebook for how to deal with anti-Semitism to this very day.
Gifts – We should always act cordially to everyone we encounter, Jew and non-Jew alike. A warm greeting can go a long way.
Prayer – Hashem, the Guardian of Bnei Yisrael, never rests and sometimes gives us challenges in order for us to daven to Him.
Battle – It is important to take the necessary steps to secure public buildings appropriately and to be more vigilant. We can respectfully approach local police captains and politicians and request that they coordinate increased security in our neighborhoods more closely.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to insure that we do not call negative attention to ourselves here in galus. When there was a famine in Eretz Canaan where Yaakov resided, he instructed his sons to go to Egypt to obtain food. Although his family still had a stock of food left, Yaakov did not want to flaunt their good fortune in the face of their non-Jewish neighbors, so he instructed his sons to go to Egypt to procure food just as their non-Jewish neighbors were doing. When we live ostentatiously, it causes our non-Jewish neighbors to become jealous of us and dislike us. It is extremely important that we refrain from building grand houses, buying expensive cars, and in general, leading a publicly luxurious lifestyle.
It is also important that we respect and abide by local laws. We should try our hardest not to drive aggressively and to avoid stopping traffic while crossing the street in an undesignated crosswalk. Our modus operandi here in galus is to keep a low profile and to make our interactions with non-Jews as pleasant as possible.
May we merit the coming of moshiach very soon!
Rabbi Avraham Yechiel Hirschman is the Rav of the Pico Bais Medrash in Los Angeles, CA.