by R. Eliezer Simcha Weisz
Resisting Antisemitism Worldwide: Israel’s Unending Test for Survival, Success, and Peace.
The world is witnessing an alarming resurgence of antisemitism, with the number of antisemitic attacks and incidents reaching record highs. Just last month, we saw one of the worst pogroms against Jews since World War II. This alarming trend is a stark reminder that the hatred and violence we thought had been eradicated can quickly resurface
Israelis are engaged in a desperate battle for survival as Jewish lives are endangered across the globe. Due to an alarming rise in antisemitic incidents and violent attacks against Israelis and Jews worldwide, Israel has been forced to issue a stark warning to its citizens against traveling abroad. This unprecedented measure highlights the escalating threat to Jewish identity and safety, harkening back to the dark days of the 1930s in Germany when Jews were compelled to conceal their heritage to survive. It is a chilling reminder that all too often, Jews across the globe face real and immediate threats to their safety and well-being
Those of us who once believed “never again” are disheartened to see that the desire to destroy the Jewish people has not disappeared. This disturbing reality sheds new light on an ancient debate rooted in this week’s Torah portion Parshas Chaye Sarah.
In a well-known passage, the Mishnah (Avot 5:3) recounts that Avraham withstood ten trials with remarkable resilience. But what exactly were these ten tests? Various commentators, including Rashi and Rambam, have offered different interpretations. Most agree that Akeidas Yitzchak (the binding of Isaac) represents the final and ultimate trial. The one exception is Rabbeinu Yonah, who places it as the ninth trial. In his view, Avraham’s ultimate test occurs at the outset of Chayei Sarah when Avraham must negotiate with the Hittites for a burial plot to bury Sarah, despite God’s promise of the land to Avraham.
Rabbeinu Yonah’s perspective teaches us that even after enduring immense suffering, new challenges can arise. There is often one more test waiting even after what seems like the ultimate hardship.
For most, the binding of Isaac was the supreme test; for Rabbeinu Yonah, an even harder trial followed—fulfilling God’s promise that Israel would be theirs.
This debate resonates deeply today. After surviving the Holocaust, many argued Jews had endured the most unimaginable trial conceivable. If Avraham could survive binding Yitzchak, and Jews could survive the Holocaust, surely no greater tests could arise.
Yet as Rabbeinu Yonah reminds us, the final test is not always as expected. Just as Abraham faced further trials after binding Isaac, we too, even after the Holocaust, find ourselves tested anew. One monumental challenge still remains: pursuing normalcy, success, and peace in our Promised Land while eradicating antisemitism worldwide.
Although the nisayon is for the whole of the Jewish people collectively, it is especially felt through bloodshed and turbulence for acheinu Bnei Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael as hundreds of rockets rained down from Gaza killing and injuring many most of the young people are in the Army risking their lives.
Everyone in Eretz Yisrael fulfills this mesirus nefesh on some level. Those in the south who are consistently living under the threat of rocket attacks perhaps are moser nefesh even more. And those who are serving in the IDF, even more than that.
The Gemara, Berachos 5a, tells us that Eretz Yisrael is only given through יסורים. The brunt of these יסורים are taken by those who live in Eretz Yisrael. This is a time to reflect on their sacrifice and in the merit of their sacrifice, we should be zoche to see a time of shalom in Eretz Yisrael when sacrifice is no longer necessary.
As for our brethren in Chutz Laaretz, your nisayon is greater than ever because of the rampant antisemitism. You should daven, learn and do whatever you can to support Israel, and not remove any outward symbols of your Judaism but beware of being in places that can be dangerous for yourselves.
The debate between Rabbeinu Yonah and other scholars also demonstrates the timeless resiliency and faith of the Jewish people. Despite unthinkable tragedy, we persist in faith that לא יטוש ה׳ עמו ונחלתו לא יעזוב – that God will not abandon His people or forsake His heritage
This constant struggle against those who wish to destroy us is unfortunately not new. But just as our ancestors persevered, so must we continue to resist, build, and believe better days lie ahead. By strengthening our people worldwide today by supporting one another, we honor those who came before by carrying on their eternal light.
Bezrat Hashem, may we swiftly overcome the resurgence of antisemitism, safeguard the well-being of the Jewish people, and work towards a future of peace and prosperity for all.
May we all pray together for all the soldiers who were and are fighting these days in Gaza, and for all soldiers who are in danger on the ground, on the water, in the air. For the hostages, the sick, the wounded, the bereaved, and their families.
Acheinu, kol beit Yisrael, han’tunim b’tzara, b’tzara uvashivyah, haomdim bein bayam uvein bayabasha. Hamakom Y’racheim, Y’racheim Aleihem v’yotziem mitzara lirvacha, um’afaila l’orah umishiabud lig’ulah, hashta ba’agala uvizman kariv
אַחֵינוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל, הַנְּתוּנִים בְּצָרָה וּבַשִּׁבְיָה, הָעוֹמְדִים בֵּין בַּיָּם וּבֵין בַּיַּבָּשָׁה, הַמָּקוֹם יְרַחֵם עֲלֵיהֶם, וְיוֹצִאֵם מִצָּרָה לִרְוָחָה, וּמֵאֲפֵלָה לְאוֹרָה, וּמִשִּׁעְבּוּד לִגְאֻלָּה, הַשְׁתָּא בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב
May Hashem bless us with strength and peace always