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An Antidote for Anti-Semitism

Christopher Buck | Nov 16, 2018

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Christopher Buck | Nov 16, 2018

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Hate-mongers have targeted their anti-Semitism at Jewish people for a very long time—so what’s the solution? Where do we find the antidote?

To answer that question, let’s apply Sir Isaac Newton’s third law—“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”—as a moral imperative, in this way: “For every act of prejudice and hate, there should be an equal and opposite reaction of unity and love.”

The Baha’i teachings first proposed this radical response to hatred more than a century ago:

There is nothing so heartbreaking and terrible as an outburst of human savagery!

I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.

Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness.

When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands! So may all the savagery of man disappear by the Mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the sincere of soul. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 29.

In the context of the recent Pittsburgh mass shooting in a Jewish synagogue (see “Pittsburgh: How We Can All Respond to Anti-Semitism“), we might want to adopt this response: “For every act of anti-Semitism, there should be an equal and opposite reaction of love and appreciation for Jews and Judaism.” In a Baha’i context, what could this look like?

Let me propose the following, and see if you agree. First, I’ll quote directly from an authoritative Baha’i text written by the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi:

The Revelation, of which Baha’u’llah is the source and center, abrogates none of the religions that have preceded it, nor does it attempt, in the slightest degree, to distort their features or to belittle their value. It disclaims any intention of dwarfing any of the Prophets of the past, or of whittling down the eternal verity of their teachings. It can, in no wise, conflict with the spirit that animates their claims, nor does it seek to undermine the basis of any man’s allegiance to their cause. Its declared, its primary purpose is to enable every adherent of these Faiths to obtain a fuller understanding of the religion with which he stands identified, and to acquire a clearer apprehension of its purpose. It is neither eclectic in the presentation of its truths, nor arrogant in the affirmation of its claims. Its teachings revolve around the fundamental principle that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is progressive, not final. Unequivocally and without the least reservation it proclaims all established religions to be divine in origin, identical in their aims, complementary in their functions, continuous in their purpose, indispensable in their value to mankind. – Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, pp. 57–58.

If true for all religions, then true for one. If the above statement holds true as a definitive Baha’i position on “all established religions,” then the same holds true for a single established religion—Judaism.

So the Baha’i Faith affirms that Judaism is: (1) divine in origin; (2) identical in its aims; (3) complementary in its functions; (4) continuous in its purpose; (5) indispensable in its value to mankind. Let’s look more closely—one affirmation at a time:

  1. Judaism is “divine in origin.” Baha’u’llah proclaimed that Moses was sent by God:

Call thou to mind the days when He Who conversed with God [Moses] tended, in the wilderness, the sheep of Jethro, His father-in-law. He hearkened unto the Voice of the Lord of mankind coming from the Burning Bush which had been raised above the Holy Land, exclaiming, ‘O Moses! Verily I am God, thy Lord and the Lord of thy forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ He was so carried away by the captivating accent of the Voice that He detached Himself from the world and set out in the direction of Pharaoh and his people, invested with the power of thy Lord Who exerciseth sovereignty over all that hath been and shall be. The people of the world are now hearing that which Moses did hear, but they understand not. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 265

  1. Judaism is identical in its aims: Baha’u’llah further declared that Moses called “all the peoples and kindreds of the earth to the kingdom of eternity, and invited them to partake of the fruit of the tree of faithfulness:”

And when His day was ended, there came the turn of Moses. Armed with the rod of celestial dominion, adorned with the white hand of divine knowledge, and proceeding from the Paran of the love of God, and wielding the serpent of power and everlasting majesty, He shone forth from the Sinai of light upon the world. He summoned all the peoples and kindreds of the earth to the kingdom of eternity, and invited them to partake of the fruit of the tree of faithfulness. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 11.

  1. Judaism is complementary in its functions: Baha’u’llah, moreover, affirmed that “the Pentateuch, revealed “… in the days of Moses,” thereby “renewed and readorned” the “City of Certitude,” which is the “Word of God:”  

When the channel of the human soul is cleansed of all worldly and impeding attachments, it will unfailingly perceive the breath of the Beloved across immeasurable distances, and will, led by its perfume, attain and enter the City of Certitude …

Within every blade of grass are enshrined the mysteries of an inscrutable Wisdom, and upon every rose-bush a myriad nightingales pour out, in blissful rapture, their melody. Its wondrous tulips unfold the mystery of the undying Fire in the Burning Bush, and its sweet savors of holiness breathe the perfume of the Messianic Spirit. It bestoweth wealth without gold, and conferreth immortality without death …

Once in about a thousand years shall this City be renewed and readorned. …

That City is none other than the Word of God revealed in every age and dispensation. In the days of Moses it was the Pentateuch; in the days of Jesus, the Gospel; in the days of Muhammad, the Messenger of God, the Qur’an; in this day, the Bayan; and in the Dispensation of Him Whom God will make manifest, His own Book—the Book unto which all the Books of former Dispensations must needs be referred, the Book that standeth amongst them all transcendent and supreme. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings, pp. 268–270.

  1. Judaism is continuous in its purpose: Referring to “religion as a social force,” Shoghi Effendi quotes Baha’u’llah as follows:

Religion is the greatest of all means for the establishment of order in the world and for the peaceful contentment of all that dwell therein …. Religion is a radiant light and an impregnable stronghold for the protection and welfare of the peoples of the world, for the fear of God impelleth man to hold fast to that which is good, and shun all evil. – Baha’u’llah, quoted by Shoghi Effendi in The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 186.

Judaism is indispensable in its value to mankind: Continuing in the same vein, Shoghi Effendi further quotes Baha’u’llah to the effect that religion—Judaism included—ideally promotes “justice and wisdom,” with which, metaphorically speaking, “the body of mankind must needs be adorned:”

Know thou that they who are truly wise have likened the world unto the human temple. As the body of man needeth a garment to clothe it, so the body of mankind must needs be adorned with the mantle of justice and wisdom. Its robe is the Revelation vouchsafed unto it by God. –Ibid., p. 187.

So the next time you say hello to a Jewish acquaintance, co-worker or friend, take an opportunity to express your appreciation, in light of all the ways Baha’is affirm the beauty and the wisdom of Judaism.

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