As Jews, we find it hard to understand why we are consistently persecuted and vilified. After all, we represent a tiny percentage of the world’s population. Israel is a tiny country and doesn’t even have oil. Why does anyone even care about what we do or say?
The end of Parshas Noach contains the famous story of the tower of Bavel. Avraham is 48 years old at the time and is referred to as Avraham Ha’Ivri. Avraham had already discovered Hashem and was called Ivri because he was on the other side of everyone’s belief.
The Torah introduces the story by saying the entire land was one language and “Devarim Achadim”. The Midrash Rabbah says it means they said sharp words (“Chadim”), against the One – Hashem, and against the unique one – Avraham. They said Avraham was a barren mule. He was unable to have children.
The Midrash is telling us that the Torah is emphasizing their wickedness. They are fighting with Avraham and insulting him in order to discredit him.
When you think about it – the story is that the majority of the world were unified in their mission to build the tower and to “fight” against Hashem. Avraham is a lone figure saying they are wrong. It is like the guy standing on the street corner proclaiming “The end of the world is coming”. We ignore him and think he is crazy. We don’t insult him in order to discredit him. Why did they need to put Avraham down and discredit him? Why not just ignore him and let him shout?
The answer is that even though Avraham was a lone opinion, they were concerned that his words would enter people’s hearts and sway people. That is because Avraham spoke the truth. The truth penetrates even when you don’t want to listen. Ultimately a person was created Yashar – straight. We recognize the truth when we hear it even when we don’t want to. In order to avoid hearing the truth, we need to discredit the speaker. When we see someone attempting to undermine someone’s credibility and devalue the person, it is because he knows that the other person is a threat to him in some way.
The Jewish people are following in Avraham’s footsteps. We proclaim the truth about Hashem, the Torah and how to live a purposeful and meaningful life. We proclaim the truth about the Land of Israel. Those who don’t want to hear the truth use the tactic of discrediting us by making false accusations about our character and our motives. It is only by denigrating us, that they are able to avoid hearing the truth of our message. A truth they do not want to hear.
Rabbi Shaps and the JET Team