Picture of the author
Picture of the author

Don't Be Silent About the Antisemitism

The Holocaust Began with Propaganda

    Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • May 2, 2024
  • |
  • 24 Nisan 5784
  • Comment

Class Summary:

A Deafening Silence - In Tribute of Holocaust Remembrance Day

Dedicated by David & Eda Schottenstein

Dedicated anonymously with gratitude to Hashem for His great kindness, and to TheYeshiva.net for all the wonderful, stimulating shiurim.

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time, no one was left to speak up.—Martin Niemoller

As the Jewish world grieves for the heinous mini Holocaust of October 7th, 2023, all the soldiers slain in Gaza, and the innocent souls languishing in Hamas captivity; as we are alarmed and disgusted by the horrific display of antisemitism in the elite US universities and the world over; as many survivors and their families will soon commemorate Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, to remember the 6,000,000 who perished in the Holocaust; as Jews in Israel continue to be threatened by nations determined to destroy it; as abuse and injustice often take root in our own communities due to the silence of good people—let us reflect on a stirring Midrash on this week's Torah portion.

The Fateful Conversation

This week's Torah portion, Acharei Mos, relates (for the second time, after the first time in Shmini) the tragic episode of the premature death of Aaron's two sons, Nadav and Avihu.

On the day the Tabernacle in the desert was erected and Aaron's four sons were inaugurated as priests, the two oldest children entered the Tabernacle and did not come out alive [1].

The Talmud[2] relates the inside story to explain the cause of their death:        

"It once happened that Moses and Aaron were walking along the road, Nadav and Avihu (Aaron's two sons) were walking behind them, and all Israel was walking behind them. Said Nadav to Avihu, 'When will these two old men die, and you and I will lead the generation?' Thereupon, G-d said to them: 'We shall see who will bury whom!'"

A Cryptic Midrash

Now, this story of Aaron's two sons engendered a cryptic Midrash. It reads like this[3]:

"When Job heard about the death of the two sons of Aaron, he was seized by tremendous fear. This event compelled Job's best friend, Elihu, to state [4]: "Because of this, my heart trembles and jumps from its place."

This Midrash seems strange. Why did the Nadan-Avihu episode trigger profound fear in the heart of Job's friend?

Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulaei, the 18th-century Italian sage and mystic known in short as the Chida [5], presents the basis of the following interpretation of this obscure Midrash. He quotes it [6] "in the name of the Sages of Germany."

Three Advisors

The Talmud relates [7] that Job served on the team of advisors to Pharaoh, the emperor of Egypt. The other members of the team were Balaam and Jethro. When the Jewish population in Egypt began to increase significantly, developing from a small family of seventy members into a large nation, Pharaoh, struck by the fear that this refugee group would ultimately pose a threat to his empire, consulted his three advisors on how to deal with the "Jewish problem."

Balaam chose a tyrannical approach. He suggested that Pharaoh drown all Jewish baby boys and force every adult Jewish male into slave labor.

Job remained silent. He neither condemned the Jews to exertion and death nor defended their rights to life and liberty.

Jethro was the only one among the three who objected to Balaam's plan of oppression. To escape the wrath of Pharaoh, who enthusiastically embraced Balaam's "final solution," Jethro fled from Egypt to Midian, where he lived for the remainder of his years.

The Talmud (7) relates the consequences of the advisors' respective behaviors. Balaam was slain many decades later during a Jewish military campaign in the Middle East [8]. Job was afflicted by various maladies and personal tragedy [9], while Jethro, the exclusive voice of morality in the Egyptian palace, merited not only Moses as a son-in-law but also descendants who served as members of the Jewish Supreme Court (Sanhedrin) in Jerusalem, loyally representing the Jewish principles of justice and morality [10].

Job's Self-Righteousness

What went through Job's mind after this incident? Did Job consider himself morally inferior to his colleague Jethro who, in an act of enormous courage, stood up to a superpower king and protested his program of genocide? Did Job return home that evening and say to his wife, "I discovered today that I am a spineless and cowardly politician who will sell his soul to the devil just to retain his position in the government."

Job, like so many of us in similar situations, did not entertain that thought even for a moment. On the contrary, Job considered himself the pragmatist and Jethro the idiot.

"What did Jethro gain from speaking the full truth?" Job thought to himself. "He lost his position and was forced to flee. He acted as a fanatical zealot. By employing my savvy diplomatic skills and remaining silent, I will continue to serve as Pharaoh's senior advisor; I will assist the Jewish people, subtly and unobtrusively, from within the governmental ranks of power." For decades, Job walked the corridors of the Egyptian palace, saturated with a feeling of self-righteousness and contentment.

Till the day he heard of the death of the sons of Aaron.

Job's Shattering Discovery

When Job inquired as to what might have caused the premature deaths of these two esteemed men, he was answered with the famous Talmudic episode quoted at the beginning of this essay:

"It once happened that Moses and Aaron were walking along the road, Nadav and Avihu (Aaron's two sons) were walking behind them, and all Israel were walking behind them. Said Nadav to Avihu, 'When will these two old men die, and you and I will lead the generation?' Thereupon, G-d said to them: 'We shall see who will bury whom!'"

Job was astounded. "I can fully understand," Job said [11], "why Nadav was punished. It was he who uttered these disgusting words. But why was his brother, Avihu, punished? He did not say anything [12]."

"Avihu?" came the reply. "He was punished because he remained silent[13]."

Because when a crime is happening in front of your eyes, your silence is deafening [14].

No Time for Silence

In the face of despicable anti-Semitism, coming from so many academics and their foolish students —all good people who remain silent, become accomplices to the crime.

Ideas have power. It was the propaganda of the Nazi party nine ht decades ago which allowed millions of Germans to become active murders of millions. When Jew hatred goes unchallenged and unprotested, the consequences can be horrific.

Throughout history, Haile Selassie said, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, and the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most that have made it possible for evil to triumph.

[1] Leviticus 10:1-3; 16:1.
[2] Sanhedrin 52a.
[3] The Midrash is quoted in Nachal Kedumim and Chomas Anach by the Chida Parshas Acharei Mos (see footnotes 5-6); in the book "Midrash Pliah," and in Pardas Yosef to Leviticus 16:1. - See Vayikrah Rabah 20:5 (and commentaries of Matnois Kehunah, Yefah Toar and Rashash).
[4] Job 37:1.
[5] 1724-1806. The Chida, author of more than fifty volumes on Torah thought, was one of the great Torah luminaries of his day. He resided in Israel, Egypt, and Italy.
[6] In his book Chomas Anach (however, see there for his refutation of this interpretation). This answer is quoted also in Pardas Yosef ibid and in "Midrash Pliah - Chedah Upelpul."
[7] Soteh 11a.
[8] Numbers 31:8.
[9] See Job chapters 1-2. Job, just like Balaam, received a punishment measure for measure. One cries when he suffers, even though he knows that doing so will not alleviate his suffering. Why? Because pain hurts. This keenly demonstrated to Job his state of moral apathy. For if he were truly perturbed by the plight of the Jewish victims, he would have voiced his objection to Balaam's plan even if he thought that protesting it wouldn't bear any results, just as one cries out in pain upon suffering though the cry will not help the situation (See Chidushei HaGriz by Rabbi Yitzchak Ze'av Soloveitchik to Soteh ibid.).
[10] Jethro, too, was rewarded measure for measure (see Toras HaKenaos to Soteh ibid.).
[11] It is unnecessary to assume that the Chida intends that Job actually heard of this Talmudic tradition and posed the following question. As with many Midrashim, certain statements and episodes may be understood symbolically. Possibly, the Midrash is conveying to us its perspective on moral silence by employing the images of Job and Aaron's two sons as examples.
[12] This question is raised (independently of this entire discussion) in Birchas Shmuel to Soteh ibid.
[13] Cf. Eyoon Yaakov to Ein Yaakov Soteh ibid.
[14] This essay is partially based on an address by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Purim 1971. Published in Sichos Kodesh 5731 vol. 1 pp. 560-568 and in Toras Menachem Purim 5731.

Please leave your comment below!

  • RZ

    Refael Zukerman -18 days ago



    The goyim, specially muslisms and christians, will indeed leave religion and embrace the Sheva Mitsvos Bnei Noach, so that Jews and Non-Jews shall serve Hashem side by side and make this world a dwelling place for the Aibishter.

    613 (Jews) + 7 (Noahides) equals 620 which is Keter. That's the future and it's already happening. That's the way to combat antisemitism. Am Yisroel have no fear, Moshiach is already here!




    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • D

    Dena -5 years ago

    That’s a crazy powerful interesting story. Tfs! 


    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • S

    sara -5 years ago

    ...recognize the clever telltale signs of Amaleik ready to test our loyalty to the ONE & ONLY


    Jews are often asked how they could possibly have the truth about G-d and life if they are the minority in the world - the "daas yachid" - the minority opinion when most of the world humanity - in the billions are moslem and millions are christians.  So - of course, any consciously aware human being understands human nature in that there are certain forces that prevail upon it to believe in anything whether it's true or not.

    As learned Jews, we often say that we live in an "almah d'shikrah" - an illusionary world that seems to runs on falsehood...yet we don't seem to think that if we're not on our toes that we, the "smart" ones are not susceptible to be drawn into the immorality of this false world that we find ourselves in.  Many Jews even think that they're "better than" other peoples "just because".  Yet, we see in Acharei Mos and Kedoshim - Hashm warning us that if we DO the same things as the nations that were spit out of the land before us, that we will suffer the same fate.  Humans are ALL blessed with "fickleness" so that we can be FREE to choose...So, yes, we are no less susceptible than other people, and perhaps, even more so - because the stakes of being "mamleches kohanim v'goy kadosh" - the light unto nations - is that much greater.

    Really loving G-d and His "signature" - which is EMES - complete integrity - means digging to the roots of an issue, no different than a top notch investigator researching a crime.  Historically, anti-Semitism is merely a reflection of internal strife in the Jewish community, the Jewish family.  It's ALWAYS the same pattern - internal strife borne out of weakness in properly developing and strengthening emunah and bitachon ( the foundation of all true service to Hashm and meaningful fulfilling lives).  When we neglect seeing how we are dooming ourselves with this state, Hashm in His kindness allows the natural hate of the inhabitants of the "almah d'shikrah" to wreak harm on the Jews, R"L.  It's not that the hate didn't exist when we are at peace with each other...it's that the wholesomeness of the peace is the powerful shield around us that we give up when we lose our grip.

    So, for the roots:  Avoid teaching an entire generation exactly how to internalize Hashm through learning the intricacies of the Creation and especially, our own physiology, as well as, how to take responsibility for our own health and function. Avoid teaching an entire generation HOW to use their brains instead of just filling it with information.  Avoid teaching an entire generation the fundamentals of emotional intelligence, psychology, real nutrition, communication skills (the 7 habits of highly effective people), avoid teaching them how to build financial success by finding their unique kochot to serve Hashm & humanity....only teach them to be "good citizens" and do "as their told"....especially the girls...who grow to be mothers who have been robbed of understanding the crucial power of motherly intuition.  

    So - we have what we have....too many sick, dysfunctional, and broken individuals and families and now the Amalek medical model is working ever harder to destroy the health and function of those Jews who know the truth about health and well being.  The "Jewish" doctors and pHARMa business people have somehow won over or bought the "jewish leadership" to insist that parents continue to blindly inject filth and poisons into their children to kill some outright or to slowly debilitate yet another generation....using the same propaganda as always - "the BIG LIE" - but this time about "measly measles".  So few lay people see through this smoke screen because of the well laid foundation of our educational systems to teach people NOT to think for themselves.  The thinking minority are now the "enemy" endangering all of society with their bright and vibrantly healthy children.   Vaccines are a pHARMa/department of "defense" product.  They are bioweapons used against the population.  Fear propagated by media and the seeming minority who are in "fight and flight" has easily brought the goals of the immoral ones to fruition.  Education that is available all over the web - ChildrensHealthDefense.org Icandecide.org among dozens of websites from MORAL human beings who will NOT be the Jobs of these shaky times is the way we MUST go.

    We do not live in the dark ages - whoever wants knowledge has access to it all.  Please see the genuine Divine science of our bodies by watching lectures from Dr. Bruce Lipton and Dr. Joe Dispenza - science that continues to be suppressed because of the laziness of human nature!  The PEOPLE decide on the market, not the government - but if we are quiet about our rights to these freedoms - we do NOT have them.  Freedom has always meant standing up strong and "fighting" with moral courage.  Please join all moral G-d loving and fearing people in this war against evil.  Listen to a true leader: Del Bigtree on his program the HIGHWIRE.  Let US be the powerful Jewish voices to join with Del Bigtree and others to protect our rights to have optimal well being to serve our Beloved Creator!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Anonymous -5 years ago

    A lot of the violence we are seeing now is not only directed against Jews. When the shluchim and their guests were murdered in Mumbai, there were over 150 innocent people who were also murdered. In the US, there have been school shootings of innocent students,  murder by an anti-black person in a church,  as well as murders of Jews in their houses of worship. The problem doesn't seem to be just anti-semitism but a lack of respect for life and a respect for others and the laws that Hashem has given to the Jewish people and to humanity.


    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • T

    Ty -6 years ago

    Amen! Excellent essay and very well written! Thanks for posting!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • F

    Felicks -6 years ago

    Hits VERY close to home. Let's make it simple. Unless we open our mouths & act with everything we have, we're creating Jewish anti semites. Especially when abuse victims are hurt. Saw it with my bare eyes. Plus, individuals who open their mouths against it are shunned & hurt. If many non Jews in Germany gave their lives in order not to support Nazis, how can we call ourselves Jews & not use energy Hashem gave us for the right cause? Something to think about this Shabbat.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • I

    inalltruthfullness -9 years ago

    i can relate. Thank you, Rabbi, so much for this stirring story. The
    Torah reading tomorrow will have so much more meaning for this.
    ...........I was kicked out of the Costa Mesa Alano Club, an AA and NA
    meeting place in Southern California. I spoke up for the Jewish meeting
    and all the young Jewish kids who are cropping up there like
    wildflowers. There were Xmas parties, xtian meetings and xtian
    fundraisers, but they had 1. thrown out the menorah that sat there for
    years, 2. wouldn't allow me to light my menorah candles at the xmas
    party (i told them to call the police on me because i and my little
    teens and 20 something Jewish addicts and alkies were lighting our
    miracle candles) and 3. wouldn't allow our Jewish meeting nor allow the
    name "jewish" used and 4. kicked me out of the club because I told them
    all their easter decorations was against california non-profit status
    law in light of not allowing anything equal - or Jewish. All I did was
    open my mouth. Respectfully. That was all. My story is not uncommon to
    stories being told all around the globe, unfortunately. But as always,
    Hashem will protect His people. Right? Last comment: I sleep good at
    night, kinahara, knowing i have a yiddishe kop who stands up for
    Yiddishkeit and what's right. Baruch Hashem for the strength we all
    have, if used. Upshot: We are a nation that dwells alone. I don't need to congregate amonst strangers.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

Parshas Acharei Mos/Shmini

Rabbi YY Jacobson
  • May 2, 2024
  • |
  • 24 Nisan 5784
  • |
  • Comment

Dedicated by David & Eda Schottenstein

Dedicated anonymously with gratitude to Hashem for His great kindness, and to TheYeshiva.net for all the wonderful, stimulating shiurim.

Class Summary:

A Deafening Silence - In Tribute of Holocaust Remembrance Day

Related Classes

Please help us continue our work
Sign up to receive latest content by Rabbi YY

Join our WhatsApp Community

Ways to get content by Rabbi YY Jacobson
Connect now
Picture of the authorPicture of the author