Peace vs. Deception
Richard: To make a statement that can be viewed by anyone that “The never changing Torah remains firm in its position that all religions except Judaism are false, and all elements of other religions require extermination” is quite inappropriate at best.
It’s these types of statements that have increased much hatred to our people. Rambam explains that any human being who faithfully observes the seven Noachide laws (Sanhedrin 56a-59b) earns a proper place in heaven.
“The duty is enjoined upon them to set up judges in each district to deal with these six commandments and to caution (educate) the people.” (Rambam, Laws of Kings 9:14)
Clearly they must teach the people to know and to live by the Laws of Noach. The foundation and basis of the Seven Noachide Laws is love and brotherhood. Even the word Noach indicates “pleasantness and friendliness”. And when Gentiles observe the Seven Noachide Laws they are called “pious (righteous) Gentiles” which indicates kindness and love.
As well, when Shlomo Hamelech built the Beis Hamikdash in Yerushalayim, he specifically asked God to heed the prayer of non-Jews who come to the Temple (1-Kings 8:41-43). The Temple was the universal center of spirituality, which the prophet Yishayahu referred to as a “House for ALL nations.”
So you see, the Torah is for all humanity, no conversion necessary. In light of this, the above statement at the beginning, which you have printed in your most recent issue of the JewishTimes, is patently obnoxious and foolish. I am truly embarrassed by your lack of sensitivity. This is unfortunately only one example of the type of offensive material your publication has printed. I think you do a great disservice, as well as committing a chillul HaShem by printing this type of material.
To end on a positive note, we Jews, of all people, must show kindness and emphasize the goodness and pleasantness which the observance of the Noachide Laws will bring to the world and society. We certainly don’t accomplish this by knocking down others. This has been clearly articulated by one of the gedolei ha-dor in 1986 on Shabbos Hagadol by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, zt”l. -Richard
Moshe Ben-Chaim: Richard, We are in agreement: Gentiles are to observe the
Noachide system. However, central to their system, and ours, is the abolition
of idolatry, which the other religions today unfortunately cling to. Surely you
do not mean to accept Christianity, which holds heretical views, which says God
is not one, and which deifies man. Surely, you do not propose to accept
Hinduism’s polytheism. God Himself teaches in Deuteronomy (12:2,3) “wipe out
idolatry” it’s objects of worship, and its reputation. Rashi explains (12:3)
how we are to remove their reputations: by forming derogatory terms for those
idols and gods. The idea behind this last point of God commanding man to deride
idolatry, is that man must view idolatry as most negative, and through the
denigration of idolatrous practices, we keep our emotions for ever forming an
attachment to this antithesis of Torah. So when we say “and all elements
of other religions require extermination”, we are in fact echoing God’s very words. What is it that you
Richard: Moshe, Thanks for your prompt and
courteous response. You are missing the point. There is such a thing as
“darchei shalom”, “ways of peace”. What I am saying is that when you print the
kind of stuff to which I strongly responded, you are only inciting the wrath of
others who don’t know or understand what you are saying and hence from a
“maaris ayin” (surface) point of view, it is counterproductive. You know what
it reminds me of? The time in Israel, a school bus was blown up, and one of the
leading rabbis made the statement that perhaps the parents of the children
killed should check their mezuzas. You probably would see nothing wrong with
this. But I can tell you that many, many respectable traditional Jews were
outraged. There is such a thing as common sense. And that’s what I think is
lacking sometimes. You are a very sincere and dedicated man, but that doesn’t
mean that you can’t become more sensitive to these things and act more
tactfully. When you ask me “So when we echo God’s very words, what is it that
you disagree with?” you’re either dodging the issue or you’re missing the whole
I laud you for your efforts and I hope you can understand what
I’m trying to convey.
Kol tuv, Richard
Moshe Ben-Chaim: I would also condemn that man who announced that this righteous
child or man was killed because he didn’t check a mezuza. That position is
foolish, baseless, and not found in Torah, just as any foolishness will not be
found there. To say that one’s lack of knowledge that his mezuza is nullified
for some reason demands his tortuous death is utterly insane.
I understand your point, but think you don’t understand the Torah’s position; we don’t seek to placate other nations, in place of rebuking their falsehoods and idolatry. I don’t suggest we coerce the 7 Noachide Laws on these idolaters, but we must make the truth available to them, as that is God’s will. Then ,they are free to follow or ignore these truths.
“Darchei shalom”, “ways of peace” (with other peoples) does not include lying about their idolatry. Idolatry is their most primary prohibition! Darchei shalom is to get along, but not at the risk of subtly conveying to them that Judaism tolerates idolatrous rites and heresy...that is lying. Nowhere in Torah do you find that we are to be quiet, and not inform others of their errors. Do you not recite Alenu each day, “and all men of flesh will call Your name.” This is God’s will, that all peoples will recognize Him and His system for them, meaning the 7 Noachide Laws, including idolatry. And the Noachides’ knowledge of God’s will as stated here does not enter his mind magically, but through someone else educating Him on God’s Torah, namely, the Jew.
Most Jews run from condemning other religions. This is based on the Jews’ faulty philosophy to preserve social niceties and relationships, over all else. However, anyone who truly cares about another, will risk his relationship by rebuking his fellow, if he knows that by doing so, he will enable his misguided Gentile friend to discover even one truth about reality. The greatest evil is the hiding of any truth from anyone. I would certainly welcome anyone who could expose my error. So I will risk a relationship with a gentile friend, if by doing so, he might hear an idea, and abandon his error. Isn’t it far better that we are no longer friends, but he is now no longer idolatrous?
The truth is, it is no secret that Christianity feels that all men who denounce Jesus will burn in hell. It’s just some game that people play, to keep such sentiments out of interfaith dialogues. When the truth is, to put it mildly, we do not agree. This doesn’t mean that as a Jew, I hate a Christian. A few of my close friends are Christian. But it means that we should not sidestep this most avoided issue. By a Jew and a Christian openly discussing their respective tenets, we avail the Christian God’s words as to why He cannot be a “trinity”, we can explain to them how they have misconstrued the understanding of the Written Law, since they do not have the essential other half, the Oral Law. By honest communication, we can teach them what God’s true will is for them, and how belief in Jesus violates reason, and intelligence. If in our discussions, as I experienced last week talking with my Christian friend, we fail, and the other person becomes angry that we are disagreeing with his religion, then there is nothing more we can do, and further discussion is not foolish. But remaining silent displays no concern for another person, if we think the other person might hear Judaism’s rationale for the Noachide Laws.
When we have the opportunity to do as did Abraham and educate another person, and we feel they might receive our words, then we should help them by educating them. Abraham went to far as to teach against idolatry until he was imprisoned, and even in prison he continued teaching. His ways were acceptable before God, so much so, that God created a nation from him. This is all recorded in the Torah, and upheld by Christians. Perhaps if we discuss these Torah sections with them, sections they do not deny, they might start to question their false premises, and come to understand God’s plan for al mankind.
Every religion and religionists, by definition, believes every other religion is false, and that he possesses the right lifestyle. Then with such conviction, these religionists should not feel a discussion would expose any fallacy in their religion. “If either of us is right, we have nothing to lose by talking”, you should say. “And if either of us are wrong, have everything to gain”. Putting it this way, we demonstrate objectivity, and create the right atmosphere, which may foster objective discussions.