- Torah and Jewish Thought
- General Questions
I have been formulating this question in my head for some time now and understand that you don’t answer all questions, but firmly believe this may be a good one for all Jews to address: The story is quite a cliche one in that I’ve been raised Jewish my whole life, celebrated Jewish holidays, ate Jewish food, etc., etc. Recently, however, my world was turned upside down when I fell in love with a non-Jew. The love is not something that I’m questioning, but since I’ve introduced him to my immediate family, I’ve been facing a serious Jewish identity crisis. Jews, he told me, presented themselves as haughty, elitist and non-Jew hating. Astonishingly, I couldn’t agree with him more. I am the granddaughter of two Holocaust survivors, I’ve been to Auschewitz, Majdenek, and Trezenstad. I’ve been to Israel four times and spent six months studying at the Hebrew University. I understand, respect and appreciate Jewish culture and religion- but how, I must ask, can we as Jews- who have been persectued and exiled throughout our existence- still act in the same regard to Goyim? How does this promote Jewish values of "justice and kindness?" Do we really mean "justice and kindness to only Jews?" A fundamental Jew once told me, "Your soul has nothing to gain from a non-Jew." While that was fundamentalist thought, read the book "Conversations with G-d" (it is incredible and is changing my life!) by Neale Donald Walsch. In this book and through my years of Hebrew school, I learned that G-d created all human beings equally, loving each of us. Do we, as Jews, believe that G-d loves Jews more? Or that Jews are somehow better, more elite than non-Jews. This ethnocentricity, while each distinct group believes in it, MUST be halted. How do us Jews face this dilemma and what can we do to allow incredible, wonderful non-Jewish people feel comfortable in our own Jewish setting? I am not asking this question with the answer, "You should not be dating a non-Jew" as the answer, I am past that rhetoric. I would, however, love to hear a response to the questions I face about Judaism and its various dilemmas.
Shalom Your questions about Judaism, Jews and gentiles have been sitting on my desk for several weeks. I wrote one response which unfortunately I lost. Not only are your questions real and honest. Some of them are not addressed directly in current Jewish education, and I believe that the failure to discuss such issues with youth and students leads to disillusionment when we are confronted with the reality that non Jews are real human beings, with real personalities, strengths, talents, problems and spiritual energy. I am not sure which aspects of Jewish behavior you are referring to when you discuss the treatment of non Jews by Jews. There are of course many instances of Jews who conduct themselves in a way which is contradictory to Torah on a variety of levels. Instaed I will try to relate to what I think "should be". The Torah, Halacha, and Jewish history suggest that the place of the Jew in the general human landscape demands two attitudes, which sometimes give rise to a tension, but are not contradictory. The Torah demands respect for the humanity of every man. The Torah expects a Jew to be honest, benevolent, interested, sincere, trustworthy, reasonable, in dealings with all people. The Talmud declres "Chachma b'goyim - ta'amin" - If one tells you that there is wisdom among the nations, believe him. There is much to learn from the nations of the world, and from individual non Jews. I have never thought it improper to engage in conversation with a non Jew, seeking knowledge, opinion, or different aproaches to an issue. On the other hand, the Torah demands of a Jew the consciousness of a special context and reality, a special mission and tradition, which demand separation, at least to the extent of being able to carry out the commitment to Torah. I do not believe that G-d love Jews more, but that he loves His people Israel because we have undertaken to be His emmisaries in this world. At the point that a Jew is unfaithful to that task, he forfeits a good deal of his status, though one can always return. A non Jew may chose to actualize G-d's will in this world by taking upon himself the basic rules of moral behavior (laws of children of Noach) or may go further and wish to represent G-d's will by converting to Judaism. In either case he certainly merits G-d's love. This is of course in a nutshell. I would be happy to answer any further question. Sincerely, Rabbi Chaim Tabasky