Will Jews in Israel become religious persecutors?

Opinion: Although spitting has become a Jewish custom to express rejection or contempt over the years, openly doing so to Christians simply based on their beliefs compels us to reconsider our direction
Rabbi Avraham Stav|
Since time immemorial, spitting has been a Jewish custom. Jews used to spit as a sign of contempt and rejection, and used to (not so long ago) spit during the prayer giving praise to God in the section where idolatrous deities and idols associated with vanity are mentioned. And they spat when seeing a cross or a church, even if rabbis may say this has no source in Jewish law.
<< Follow Ynetnews on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok >>
More stories:
I can imagine them doing it. A child and his father wrapped in tattered coats, walking toward the small synagogue with its worn walls. On the way, they pass by an impressive cathedral, crowned with a gleaming black cross, standing tall and imposing.
2 View gallery
Border Police soldier carrying vandalized cross in Jerusalem
(Photo: AP)
The child's eyes are lifted upwards, and he can also smell, through the window, food that he hasn't had the chance to eat for a long time. The father looks around with concern, and when he's sure there's no one nearby, he lowers his head and spits on the frozen ground.
These drops of spit hold inside them all the words in the world that want to say: there is also another point of view. There is a world map with Jerusalem at its center, and all the magnificent buildings are insignificant compared to it.
Contempt is often the only weapon available for the weak. It’s an action that seeks to undermine appearances and shatter the illusion. Even Rabbi Akiva spat in front of a temptress who tried to seduce him, in order to destroy the illusion of the human body’s charms.
And even though we spit a little less today, when I sit with my children and a commercial for a tacky reality show shows on the screen, I express my disgust to disrupt the celebration of images and stimuli the screen proudly presents.
2 View gallery
תיעוד הנזק כתוצאה מהאלימות נגד נוצרים בירושלים
תיעוד הנזק כתוצאה מהאלימות נגד נוצרים בירושלים
Window in Jerusalem church vandalized
(Photo: Gadi Dahan)
But all of this isn’t related in any way to the horrifying scenes revealed in the footage published on Tuesday, in which Jews spat at Christian tourists carrying crosses in the streets of Jerusalem's Old City.
Let's begin with the fact that Jews have never spat in a place where they could be seen. It's not a technical distinction, as someone might say that it’s okay to steal as long as you don’t get caught. Spitting in secret and spitting openly aren’t the same action at all.
Spitting in hiding, when we’re trembling to even speak in criticism of the priest or religious authority, is a desperate act of cultural preservation. Spitting openly, in the faces of foreign tourists, is a condescending act of arrogance and violence. It's an act that shouldn’t be done, even more so toward tourists, for there’s no justification for degrading them merely because of their faith.
But spitting is also terrible and threatening due to the message it conveys inwardly. Jewish law teaches us that upon seeing an act of another religion, one should thank God for worshipping him and none other.
הרב אברהם סתיוRabbi Avraham StavPhoto: Aviv Naveh
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook explains that the purpose of this thanks is to instill Jews with the qualities of patience and tolerance toward various ways of worshiping in other religions, even if personally we believe they’re erroneous.
The Jewish people are in the midst of a transition from persecuted people to a ruling and dominant demographic in their own land. After thousands of years of persecution, this is a dramatic moment in which a decision will be made: will the trauma inflicted upon us turn us into persecutors? Or, will the suffering we endured, push us to ensure that we’ll never behave like this toward any people or individual again? What will our decision be?
The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.