Is God an antisemite?

Is God an antisemite?

Traveling in France and Normandy for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, I chanced upon many Israelis in Paris. They saw my yarmulke and beard and they said hello, or I overheard them speaking in Hebrew and I said hello.

Here is what was so peculiar.

Many of them were Orthodox. Not a single one wore a yarmulke. They all wore baseball caps. I asked them why. “Europa malei antishemiyim – Europe is filled with antisemites.” So what, I asked. The one thing no one would call Israelis is cowards. “You guys are brave enough to fight Hamas, but you’re too scared to go to the Louvre with a yarmulke? And do you really think that the Parisians are convinced that you’re a New York Yankees fan just because you wear the hat when you can’t even pronounce the team’s name?”

But I could not persuade them. “For 2000 years Jews have been murdered in Europe, culminating in the Holocaust,” they tell me in Hebrew. “They’re all antisemites.” For all the courage that Israelis exhibit — and there is no more courageous nation on earth — they still live in a Jewish bubble in the Middle East. When they venture out to a continent they are convinced detests Jews, they are going to avoid confrontation if they can.

We’ll leave the question of whether diaspora Jews can impart a sense of greater identity to Israelis when they are outside Israel for another time. For now, let’s focus on this one issue. What proves that Europe is antisemitic? Why, they have been murdering Jews for 2,000 years, right?

By the same token, might we say, God forbid, that the Creator is none too fond of Jews as well? After all, isn’t He the one who allowed Jews to be murdered for two millennia?

Let me be clear. I do not believe in God. Rather, I am certain there is a God. As certain as I am that I am typing this column on my laptop, I am even more certain that God is the Creator of heaven and earth, Master of the Universe, and Controller of all history. Maimonides said there is no commandment to believe in God. Rather, we must know that God exists.

I do know. It is a mathematical certainty. And October 7 did not shake my faith in God even one iota.

But what it did do is have me question whether God likes Jews.

And yes, I say this tongue in cheek, but only partially.

What, after all, does God want from the Jews? Why is it that He has seemingly broken so many promises to us? He says He loves us, yet he allows us to be gang raped, beheaded, disemboweled, slaughtered, and cremated. Might the Europeans not make the same argument? We love you to death!

Yes, He promised an ingathering of the exiles, and while the Messiah has not yet come (with all due apology to Yeshua of Nazareth, the subject of my book “Kosher Jesus,” whom I argue fought the Romans and was crucified for resisting Caesar but was certainly not the Messiah) and with the miraculous State of Israel that has largely occurred. But October 7 shattered the founding principle of a Jewish state, namely, that once Jews are in their land, protected by their own army, there would never again be mass murder of Jews or anything resembling a Holocaust.

We waited for Israel for 2,000 years. Did God have to shatter the promise of security in our land so decisively?

Many argue that God has a plan and good things are going to emerge from October 7. Nissim Louk, whose daughter Shani is tragically the most famous victim of the Nova festival massacre, said in our public discussion in Tel Aviv that his daughter’s name means change, and “great and positive change will result from this massacre.” Now, Nissim is a great man and has become one of my dearest friends. But whatever good may come of that horrible day, did it have to arise only as a consequence of his daughter being publicly defiled by monsters?

The same is true, of course, of the Holocaust. I cannot tell you how many thousands of people have told me that God had a great plan for the Holocaust. We limited mortals simply don’t understand it. Seriously? You mean, in some celestial sphere, far beyond our own limited understanding, the gassing of one million children is somehow a good thing?

Others say that Israel deserved what it got on October 7. Just look how divided the country is. Look at the blinding and irrational hatred Israelis have for one another. To that I answer that America is just as divided, but women in Manhattan were not punished, God forbid, with gang rape at a Central Park concert.

And to those who say that we Jews are sinful and don’t keep the Torah, give me a break. There is no nation on earth so faithful as the Jews. Even after Auschwitz and Maidanek, we continue to put on tefillin, eat kosher, and send our kids to very expensive Jewish day schools. No nation on earth has even approximated the loyalty of the Jews to God, even when it seems He does not reciprocate it.

Which brings me back to my original question. Is God an antisemite? Since there is no good reason not to like us, is God’s disfavor toward something akin to the United Nations or the European Union, which just dislike irrationally, with no good reason?

And while I understand the amorality of the U.N. and the laughingtstock it has become with countries like North Korea and Russia on its human rights council, the same cannot be said of God. He is the source of all morality. Must He Himself not act morally?

Indeed, is this not precisely what Abraham said to God, “Will the judge of the whole earth not himself practice justice?” Moses went even further, threatening God to abandon the Torah completely if God exterminated the Jews. “If you annihilate them, I beseech you, remove my name from the book You have written.”

Which teaches us the following. I have no idea what God is up to with the global resurgence of antisemitism. Yes, humanity has freedom of choice, and those who choose to hate the Jews — like the maggot mullahs of Iran — are culpable for their hatred. But if God did not so will it, even amid their attempts at murdering Jews, they would not have been able to harm a hair on a baby in Nir Oz or Sderot.

Why has God allowed all this garbage to come back? Were six million Jewish martyrs not enough?

Next week is the 30th anniversary of the death of the Lubavitcher rebbe. In one of his last public addresses, just before a catastrophic stroke, the rebbe addressed the rape and murder of a young mother in Crown Heights. He looked up at the heavens, and you could see he was sparring with God before a global audience of listeners. “Zuchtz korbanos?” he asked in Yiddish. “Lord, do you need more sacrifices?” Will it ever be enough?

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses famously says, “The hidden things are for God. But the revealed things are for us and our children.” After October 7, I have no idea what God is up to. With two sons at war in Israel, I shake and shudder and mourn and grieve for every murdered IDF hero. God, do you need more sacrifices? Must another few thousand 20-year-old Jewish boys die before your thirst is quenched?

But none of that is my business. My job is to protest God’s seeming inaction, demand that He show Himself in history — as He did on the day that four hostages were rescued and when the demonic president of Russia, who paid for October 7, died in a helicopter crash —  and finally protect his people.

Is God an antisemite? My role is not to answer that question but to pray to Him defiantly that He cease giving any party even a hint that this may be so.

I don’t understand why the world hates Jews. But it makes no difference. My job is not to understand but to fight, to explain, to debate, and to win. I don’t understand why God is not keeping His promises to the Jews unconditionally and ushering in a Messianic age filled with brotherhood, fraternity, and peace. But my job is to be an Israelite, translated literally as “he who wrestles with God.” My role is to keep the Sabbath whenever God seemingly allows it to be violated, as He did on October 7. My job is to honor my wife in matrimony and respect women, even when God seemingly allows monsters to violate women. My six daughters’ mission is to light the Sabbath candles and dispel the darkness of hatred, even when God seemingly extinguishes hope, as He did on October 7. And my job is fight fight fight for Israel and to do everything to support and protect the brave soldiers of the IDF, even when God seemingly allows them to slip through His fingers.

No, God is not an antisemite. The very fact that the Jewish people — alone among nations of antiquity — still exists proves it. But it’s high time that He started showing His love rather than just talking about it.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of Englewood is the author of the newly published guide to fighting for Israel, “The Israel Warrior.” Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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