Anti-Semitism and its Metaphysical Origins
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This book articulates a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of Jew hatred as a metaphysical aspect of the human soul. Proceeding from the Jewish thinking that the anti-Semites oppose, David Patterson argues that anti-Semitism arises from the most ancient of temptations, the temptation to be as God, and thus to flee from an absolute accountability to and for the other human being.
the opposite: the principle that guided them in their actions was “Thou shalt murder every Jew.” For this reason, as Emil Fackenheim (1916–2003) has maintained, murder was not a by-product of National Socialism – it was its very essence.71 Why? Because anti-Semitism was its very essence: deicide demands the murder of every Jew, the silencing of every Hebrew prayer, and the burning of every Torah scroll. 69 70 71 Jean-François Lyotard, Heidegger and “the Jews,” trans. Andreas Michel and Mark S.
understand the hatred directed toward them. In many cases, explaining antiSemitism in distinctively Jewish terms would undermine the premise and the method behind the explanation. Explanations of the origins of antiSemitism, as Prager and Telushkin observe, “include, most commonly, economic factors, the need for scapegoats, ethnic hatred, xenophobia, resentment of Jewish afﬂuence and professional success, and religious bigotry. But ultimately these answers do not explain anti-Semitism.”125
soul is referred to as a ner [candle], and the commandment is called a ner. [In the metaphor] where the commandment is the candle, the soul is the wick and the commandment is the oil, producing two aspects of light, as it is written Veahavta (‘and you shall love’ [Deuteronomy 6:5]), which is twice the numerical value of or (‘light’).”23 As the candle of God, the soul’s task is to transform the darkness of the ego’s isolation into the light that shines in the loving relation to another. The soul,
Jewish tradition teaches that the name and the soul are of a piece.111 Recall from the Introduction the teaching from Nachman of Breslov concerning what befalls us when we die.112 As we lie 108 109 110 111 112 Levi, Survival in Auschwitz, 90. See Emil L. Fackenheim, The Jewish Return into History (New York: Schocken Books, 1978), 246. Levi, Survival in Auschwitz, 27. See, e.g., Yehuda HeChasid, Sefer Chasidim, trans. Avraham Yaakov Finkel (Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson, 1997), 244. See Nathan
My Homeland, in which he denies that the Holocaust ever happened.70 Underlying this antihistorical anti-Semitism in the Muslim world is a decidedly anti-Zionist aim: if the Jews established a Jewish state as a haven in a world that is hostile toward them and if the Jews never suffered from such hostility, then there is no need for such a haven. As a manifestation of the desire to eliminate the Jewish state, “Holocaust denial,” as Stern has observed, “not only attacks Jewish history, its inherent