Who decides you are Jewish – a neighbor, a rabbi or you yourself? With all non-Jewish faiths and ethnicities, their definition is based on how somebody defines him/her-self. If somebody says, I am a Catholic, or an Assyrian, or a Russian, or an atheist … the others accept it without any doubt. With the Jews, everything is different.
From the news media:
The boxing website thesweetscience.com reported on Wednesday that Muhammad Ali attended Shabbat services at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in April, to celebrate the bar mitzva of his grandson, Jacob Wertheimer.
Ali’s daughter, Khaliah Ali-Wertheimer, was raised as a Muslim, but described herself as “not into organized religion” and “more spiritual than religious.” Her husband, attorney Spencer Wertheimer, is Jewish and their son, according to Khaliah, chose to have a bar mitzva because he “felt a kinship with Judaism and Jewish culture,” the Inquirer reported.
According to Islam, a child’s religion is passed down from the father, while according to traditional Judaism it is passed down through the mother. This means that Islam, the religion of Jacob’s mother, considers him to be Jewish, and his father’s Jewish religion considers him to be a Muslim.
Thus, Jacob Wertheimer himself has decided he is Jewish, a Jacob’s Jewish orthodox neighbor has no doubt Jacob is not Jewish since his mother is not Jewish, and Jacob’s non-orthodox rabbi, knowing that Jacob’s mother is not Jewish and therefore Jacob has to be considered non-Jewish, nevertheless performed a bar mitzvah. In defining the Jacob’s Jewishness, who is right and who is wrong?
From the news media:
Application that identifies (((Jews))) online disappears from Google Browser. The developer of the Google Chrome extension Coincidence Detector, which identifies Jewish individuals and organizations by putting triple parentheses around their names, pulled the application last night after several news reports exposed it to the general public.
In this case, Google developers were deciding who is Jewish and who is not.
From the Hitler and Stalin’s directives:
A person with 1/8 of “Jewish blood” should be considered Jewish, or a person, which is identified as Jewish in his/her passport, is Jewish.
Here the government decides who should be considered Jewish.
It looks like almost everybody in this world has an opinion on who is Jewish and who is not. If it is so, what might be a right way to define the true Jewishness?
The true Jews are those who follow in their individual lives the original spiritual ideas precisely described by the Chabad in the following way:
Throughout our 3300-year history, what has defined us as Jews is a relationship and commitment. We are Jews because G‑d chose us to be His “cherished treasure from all the nations… a kingdom of priests and a holy people” (Exodus 19:5-6). We are Jews because G‑d chose us to play the central role in the implementation of His purpose in creation: to orientate our lives in accordance with His will, and to develop a society and world community that reflects His goodness and perfection. The substance of this relationship, the charter of this commitment, is the Torah.
Thus, the true Jews is somebody who is applying the Torah moral principles to his work on developing a society and world community that reflects the Torah guidance. Only the true Jew, who may call him/her-self religious or non-religious, may decide for him/her-self how to apply the Torah guidance to all that. If he/she feel uncertain how to apply, a rabbi may be asked for an advice – but for an advice, not for marching orders.
If it is so, an individual have to decide for him/her-self on being Jewish – not a neighbor or a rabbi.
By now, two things are almost scientifically proven: (1) the human behavior, which defines human moral principles, is steered by individual genes’ combination, and (2) the great majority of Jews have common genes’ combination, which steers their behavior along the moral lines defined as Judaism. This statement does not contradict the basic belief in Judaism: the spiritual principles of human life were presented at Mount Sinai by the Supreme Power called God to the human tribe called the Jews since this tribe were genetically prepared best to understand the principles, follow them and help the other tribes to do so.
Now after over three millenniums of Jewish spiritual Torah-guided development, the Jews are visibly divided into two spiritual groups: (1) the Jews by reason and (2) the Jews by prayer.
The Jews by prayer
From the news media:
Satmar Rebbe Rails Against Secular Education Bill.
A powerful Hasidic leader has slammed a bill in the New York State legislature that would enforce laws that require religious schools to teach secular subjects.
Some Hasidic schools for boys routinely flout the existing laws, offering minimal time for English, history and math, or skipping the subjects altogether. The new bills that would give regulators new tools to enforce those laws come amid increased statewide attention on the lack of secular education in some Hasidic yeshivas.
The leader of the Kiryas Joel-based segment of the Satmar Hasidic sect, Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, said, “We should pray every day that these evil doers [those who insist on secular subjects in Jewish education] should not lay their hands on the Jewish children here in America.”
“The worldview taught in public school, it’s hard to even bring it to my mouth,” Teitelbaum said.
So, Satmar Rebbe does not want any secular education for the Jews. The reason is clear. He is one of the leaders of the strictly orthodox religious streams who believe that a better world for everybody should be built by God and God will do so only if the Jews will be asking Him endlessly by Torah-inspired prayers. If it is so, no secular education that is necessary for building a better spiritual and material world for Jews and Gentiles is needed – in the view of the Rebbe and his followers. That is Judaism by prayer.
The Jews by reason
The reason is clearly defined in the Torah: since the humans are created in the “image and likeness of God” the Creator, the Jews as the Chosen have to help the other human tribes continue the God’s creative work to build a spiritual and material better world for all humans. God does not need our prayers – God needs our creative work “in His image and likeness”. Prayers are needed for us to figure out what and how God wants us to create but the prayers are not the ultimate goal. To figure out all that and then work on implementation, the secular education is needed – without such education, the prayers become the ultimate goal, and that is not what unites and identifies all Jews.
The Jews by reason and the Jews by prayer should be spiritual Torah-guided friends, and the rabbis should be working on creating such spiritual friendship. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Recently I have addressed this subject in a post “The rabbi is wrong on the roots of anti-Semitism”. However, the newly revealed acts of anti-Semitism in Europe moved me to address this subject again.
From the news media:
Writing in The Telegraph on 3rd May, the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis addresses the problem of anti-Semitism on the hard left of British politics. The Rabbi says: ‘To those who so eagerly reach for a vicious Holocaust reference in order to exact the maximum amount of pain and offence upon “Zionists”, I say: You are spreading that ancient and insidious virus of anti-Semitism. Look around you’.
From the news media:
In his May 4, 2016 article “This cannot be, it must not be our Europe!” the first vice-president of European Commission Frans Timmermans says:
Anyone who knows anything about our history knows that anti-Semitism is Europe’s most pernicious disease. It is the red line that we must never, ever cross.
A well-respected European religious leader, the UK Chief Rabbi, and a well-respected European political leader, the Vice-President of European Commission, described the anti-Semitism as a sort of recognized social illness. If it is so, the anti-Semitism has to be dealt with as we do with all recognized illnesses – by medications, in this case by social medications such as anti-hate-crime laws.
However, if we incarcerate the anti-Semites, in the jail they would not become the “pro-Semites” – contrary to this, many more potential anti-Semites will take their place under the banner of freedom of speech and of resistance to some mystical Jewish cabal around the world and in Israel. Below are just a few examples of that.
A UK prominent anti-Semitic politician Ken Livingstone: Creation of Israel was ‘a great catastrophe”.
London is electing first Muslim mayor – over a Jewish contender!
Finally, the time has come to realize we have wrongly diagnosed the roots of anti-Semitism and therefore our treatment is counterproductive. The anti-Semitism is not an illness and therefore cannot be treated as an illness by social medicines.
The anti-Semitism is a sincere spiritual believe among many gentiles that the Jews are moving the gentile world into wrong, destructive direction.
The anti-Semitism has to be dealt with by creating a sort of “Semitic”, Judeo-Christian spiritual movement led mostly by Christian leaders of various Christian religious streams with the goal of proving to the gentile communities that the Jewish ideas are moving the gentile world into right, God-guided direction. This spiritual Judeo-Christian movement has to be created by Rabbis working together with Priests.
Some prominent rabbis are already working with the Christians on strengthening the mutual “belief-foundation” of Judaism and Christianity where the Jews are respected and honored as the elder spiritual brothers.
The time has come to make the next step – to create the mutual Judeo-Christian, Bible-based foundation for the structure of a better world for everybody in our contemporary times for all crucial components of this structure such as rich vs. poor, individual freedoms vs. welfare, government vs. people, Supreme Power above us vs. supreme powers among us, etc.
This foundation has to demonstrate that the Judeo-Christian, Bible-based structure of the better world is superior over the Islamic, Communist/Socialist and many other structures at least in our “Western hemisphere”, and that the Jews should be recognized as the elder brothers in developing and promoting such structure.
This work would deliver to all potential anti-Semites the much-needed message: the Jews are moving the world in the right direction beneficial to you – they are not moving the world into the wrong direction contrary to your interests. This message has to be supported by demonstrating the Jewish achievements in creating the basics of contemporary Western Judeo-Christian civilization – in economics, science, social institutions and elsewhere. The most difficult part of this effort is to overcome the prevailing politically correct dogma that all religions and religion-like political/social movements are spiritually equal and our Judeo-Christian morality is not superior over the other moralities – of course, in our Western civilization.
In the contemporary world, the restoration of public Judeo-Christian morality/spirituality is the prerequisite for beginning the mitigation of the anti-Semitism. I believe Jewish leaders who are willing to begin this process exist.
From the UK news media:
Police said that a Scottish Muslim shopkeeper was murdered by a fellow Muslim hours after he posted a message on Facebook professing love for Christians and for Jesus and wishing them a happy Easter.
From the Canadian news media:
What do Algeria, America, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Britain, Burkina Faso, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chad, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Niger, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen have in common? Oh, and Canada, of course. All have been attacked by Islamist terrorists since 2010. Forty-six nations in barely five years and I’ve not even included the obvious trio of horrors, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. All of the terrorist acts were aimed to demonstrate the victory of Islam over the faiths of infidels among whom are even Muslims with not strict adherence to the “true” Quran and Sharia.
From the battle cries of Muslim terrorists:
“Allahu Akbar” that is “God (meaning Allah) is Great” that is the Allah’s order in the Quran to transform the entire world to the Sharia moral values.
From the political slogans of our political establishment:
- Ø Islam is a religion of peace and has nothing to do with the terrorism performed by some Muslims
- Ø The terrorists are the radicalized Muslims who are acting against moral principles of their religion
- Ø Or, the terrorists are the ideologues and their ideology has nothing to do with their religion.
To find out who is wrong and who is right, the following questions have to be answered:
- Who are the killers – radicalized Muslims who has acted against the moral prescripts of their own religion of Islam, or they are normal Quran-guided Muslims?
- What is the moving spiritual force behind the killings – the religion of the killers or some their ideology that has nothing to do with their religion?
- Do the killers act in good faith as their religion or ideology demands it, or they represent a small devilish minority that always exists in any religion and ideology?
What I have studied and experienced all my life, together with many other Jews and Christians of various spiritual streams – from orthodoxy to atheism, let me answer these questions in the following way.
Who are the killers – radicalized Muslims who has acted against the moral prescripts of their own religion of Islam, or they are normal Quran-guided Muslims?
The killers are not radicalized Muslims – they are normal Quran-guided Muslims.
Here is how Quran guides the Muslims:
Allah is an enemy to unbelievers. – Sura 2:98
On unbelievers is the curse of Allah. – Sura 2:161
Slay them wherever ye find them and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. – Sura 2:191
Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. – Sura 2:216
What is the moving spiritual force behind the killings – the religion of the killers or some their ideology that has nothing to do with their religion?
The moving spiritual force is religion, not ideology. The Merriam-Webster defines ideology as a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture and a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture.
What is the source of the “systematic body of concepts about human life”? It is the religion, and it is religion everywhere – in Judaism, in Christianity and in Islam. For the last thirteen centuries the religion of Islam had created its own “systematic body of concepts about human life” quoted in the above from Quran.
Do the killers act as their religion or ideology demands it or they represent a small devilish minority that always exists in any religion and ideology?
Every religion has good and bad disciples and the entire religion – be it Islam, Christianity or Judaism – can be judged by assessing how the true spiritual leaders of a religion respond to actions of its bad (devilish) disciples.
While the Jewish and Christian leaders condemn any acts of violence committed by their bad disciples against the Muslims, no one – literally no one – of the leading Islamic authorities condemn any acts of Islamic terrorism. If it is so, the answer is clear – the Islamic terrorist acts are committed since their religion/ideology demands it.
Vatican and Jerusalem are not silent – they condemn any acts of Jewish and Christian acts of violence. Mecca is silent on Islamic terrorism and silent approvingly.
A street photo:
From the Israeli news media:
Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said that non-Jews should not live in the Land of Israel if they do not abide by a set of seven laws mandated by Judaism.
“According to Jewish law, gentiles should not live in the Land of Israel,” Yosef said Saturday in a sermon. “If a gentile does not agree to take on the seven Noahide Laws, we should send him to Saudi Arabia. When the true and complete redemption arrives, that is what we will do.”
The only reason non-Jews were still allowed to live in the Jewish state was the fact that the Messiah had yet to arrive, he said. “If our hand were firm, if we had the power to rule, that’s what we should do. But the thing is, our hand is not firm, and we are waiting for the Messiah,” he added.
I personally do not think that the Torah, which is believed containing all God’s guidance on creating a better world for everybody, can direct us the Jews to be isolated from the others since God created everybody, Jews and non-Jews, in His own image and likeness as equals – of course, with a special mission for the Jews as the Chosen. However, I am not asking the Rabbi to clarify this my thought – I am trying to clarify for myself his thinking on the Torah-guided role of the Jews in the contemporary world.
It looks like the Rabbi believes the Jews have to be isolated from the non-Jews since only strict isolation prevents assimilation and provides ideal conditions for following the Torah and serving God. It looks like the Rabbi believes that everyday collaboration and encounter with the non-Jews is detrimental to the spiritual health of the Jews.
My own Torah-guided definition of being Jewish conflicts with all that and I am asking the Rabbi to address my concerns.
- (1) If the Rabbi believes, our Jewish spiritual health requires the total separation from the non-Jews, does the Rabbi reward the non-Jews with the right to preserve their Gentile spiritual health by separating themselves from the Jews – in other words, does the Rabbi provide a very spiritual justification for the anti-Semitism?
- (2) If the Rabbi believes, we the Jews have to separate spiritually themselves from the non-Jews, does the Rabbi rewards the non-Jews with the right to build a God’s better world (politically, socially, economically, spiritually) without Torah guidance provided by Jewish intellectuals?
- (3) If the Rabbi believes, the Jews have to be separated from the non-Jews, does the Rabbi reduces the Torah-guided mission of the Chosen mostly to prayers and family/synagogue life preventing the Chosen from fulfilling their God-given mission of the Chosen – the mission of assisting everybody in building a Torah-guided better world for everybody?
Many Jews and non-Jews are eager to see/listen to the answers.