Chapter 5: Pariahs
The Roots of Anti-Semitism
Two Ways—One Blissful, One Painful
The state of complete redemption—the attainment of the Creator by all of humanity—is mandatory. Baal HaSulam says that there are two ways by which we can achieve it: the way of Torah, when we voluntarily adopt the law of bestowal as our way of life, or the way of suffering, whereby reality compels us to nevertheless adopt the Law of Bestowal as our way of life.[i]
As compulsory as the words of those two contemporary sages may sound, they rest on a sound basis. The Talmud writes, “Rabbi Eliezer says, ‘If Israel repent, they are redeemed. If not, they are not redeemed.’ Rabbi Yehoshua said to him, ‘If they do not repent, they are not redeemed, but the Lord will set up over them a king whose decrees are as harsh as Haman’s, Israel will repent, and He will reform them.’”[ii]
Even that momentous occasion at the foot of Mount Sinai, when we collectively received the Torah with a spectacular audio-visual show, was apparently not as joyous or as festive as has been described. The Talmud tells us that the circumstances were such that there was not much else we could do other than receive it. In today’s terminology, we would say that the Creator gave us an offer we could not refuse: “It is written, ‘And they stood at the bottom of the mountain.’ Rav Dimi Bar Hama said that it means that the Lord had forced the mountain over Israel like a vault, and said unto them: ‘If you accept the Torah [Law of Bestowal], very well, but if not, there will it be your grave.’”[iii]
Indeed, no one said that it is easy having the primogeniture. But the Jews, the descendants of Abraham’s clan, are just that. They were the first to attain the purpose of Creation; hence, it is naturally up to them to lead the way for the rest of humanity. As long as we avoid that undertaking, we will encounter rejection by all the nations.
[i] Rav Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Freedom” (Ashlag Research Institute, Israel, 2009), 420.
[ii] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Sanhedrin, 97b.
[iii] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Avodah Zarah [Idolatry], 2b.