The Irrelevant One
December 2, 2022 / 8 Kislev 5783
Regular readers of this column know that I am a passionate and deeply committed believer that our society and community are better #StrongerTogether!
In fact, I so profoundly believe in this ideology that I have at times been called naïve, excessively patient, and even foolish for thinking that people with opposing views would be willing to accept that others might have a rationale and reasonable alternative insight into a seemingly obvious “truth.” To me, differences of opinion and thought do not justify the separation and siloing of a community.
I believe that diversity of ideas is healthy. Sitting with someone who sees the world through a different lens and listening to one another, is quickly becoming an extinct behavior. As I previously shared a few weeks ago, while paraphrasing the late great Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l, we do not need to agree with one another, but we do have to care about one another. Agreeing to disagree is a sign of great respect and profound maturity.
However, I must admit that when someone’s views are so abhorrent and intentionally hateful that providing the other person a platform to share their ideology is beyond one’s capacity for inclusion. Unfortunately, there are times when others want our demise and failure to such a degree that departure and moving our separate ways is the only solution.
This week’s Torah portion, Vayetze, teaches us about Jacob’s journey from the Promised Land to Charan, where Jacob meets his eventual wife, Rachel. But, before being eligible to marry Rachel, Jacob’s future father-in-law Laban commits Jacob to seven years of shepherding. Then, as the story unfolds on the eve of Jacob’s wedding to Rachel, Laban switches Rachel for her sister Leah, which Jacob only discovers after he is wed. Laban, of course, playing the generous and devoted father-in-law, offers Jacob Rachel’s immediate hand in marriage for the next seven years of servitude.
Now, after fourteen years of service, we expect it would be time for Jacob to move on and leave his father-in-law’s home, but unfortunately, not. Laban persuades Jacob, now that he has two families and twelve children, that he should continue to work for him so Jacob can build his own stock of sheep and wealth. Not until another six years pass, having now served for twenty years, does Jacob reach his limit to Laban’s trickery, deception, and intentional manipulation.
For years I have believed that there are two types of antisemites in the world. There is the ignorant uneducated person who simply perpetuates the lies and false tropes shared with them, which they have never had a reason to question. Second, are the Jew-haters. These are the actively hateful antisemites who desire the demise and annihilation of the Jewish people. As a lifelong educator, I believed that the way to address both groups’ hate was to listen and educate… albeit in uniquely different ways.
Not until this year did I discover a third type of antisemitism, which I couldn’t fit neatly into my other two categories. I now call this one antisemitism for publicity. Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, has mastered this type of antisemitism. He actively spews hate for publicity while simultaneously claiming to love everyone. At any other time in my life, this behavior would have been chalked up to mania, and the person with this kind of erratic behavior would have been dismissed to the realm of irrelevant, or better yet, would have been treated for the mental health challenges with which they obviously struggle. But either way, this type of hate would never have been promoted simply for the sake of controversy.
Unfortunately, we live in different times. We live in a time when antisemitism is a hot topic. Unlike in the past when education was a viable tool to combat antisemitism, today’s antisemitism for publicity only feeds the beast when Jewish organizations and members of the Jewish community unintentionally promote this hateful animosity.
It is time to move Ye and others like him to the realm of the irrelevant. I, for one, have no intention of referring to him by name from here on out. As far as I am concerned, I will think of him as “The Irrelevant One.” Yet, we should always remember that even if we ignore this individual, we should never “cancel” them because just as Laban eventually reconciles with Jacob, everyone deserves the chance to make amends.
Because we are…