I am working on a book (“In intellectual search for spiritual Torah-based union between Jews and Christians”) and I am discussing various ideas I am exploring in the book with my friends and colleagues.
Many my friends and colleagues have expressed their uneasiness with one of the ideas of the book that we can fight successfully anti-Semitism only if we reestablish the spiritual closeness of Jews and Christians. Many of my friends and colleagues are uncomfortable with this idea because of historic Jewish dislike of Christianity as a source of anti-Semitism.
That is true – many Jews consider Christianity as the chief source of anti-Semitism, and I am writing this book precisely to address this dislike.
Every day we the Jews hear something about anti-Semitism in its “normal” everyday actions and its abnormal Holocaust explosion.
We are complaining and we are demanding from the government the laws that punish anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers.
However, these laws are making things worse – they are, in the minds of anti-Semites, the confirmation of the anti-Semites’ belief that the almighty Jews own the governments and the world and through the governments suppress – spiritually and economically – the others.
And we complaining, complaining and complaining … I have complained as well for long time, and, after I had become tired of complaining, I decided to look into the true historic roots of anti-Semitism – beyond believed to be “Christ killers”, “deceivers”, etc. I went back to the Torah, Bible, historic and contemporary Rabbinic and Priestly (Christian) teachings where I found the following.
• The Torah was given by the Almighty Power (whatever it might be) at Mount Sinai to everybody, let me say it again – to everybody, through the Jewish People, with the chief assignment for the Jewish people (the Chosen) to assist the non-Jewish people in transforming their lives from the pagan morals to the Torah-guided morals.
• The Torah guidance implies the transformation path is the spiritual and social competition among various human tribes each of them tailoring the Torah prescripts to their unique life conditions and randomly God-assigned genetic structure. There is no human uniformity in the Torah! Following the Torah guidance, the Jews created Talmud, numerous rabbinic rulings and various spiritual streams (Essenes, Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots, Nazarenes and other in the biblical past and Orthodox, Reform and Conservative with different sub-streams now). Then, the Jews laid out spiritual foundation for other non-Jewish tribes (Rabbi Joshua who after his death became Jesus Christ), and those non-Jewish tribes created their own Torah interpretations in the New Testaments with their own priestly rulings and spiritual streams (many-many dozens of them).
• At the beginning, the spiritual and social competition was mostly peaceful since people were trying to receive the guidance directly from God with little concern for the actions of the others. At that time, there was no basis for anti-Semitism, and anti-Semitism did not exist in the form as we define it now. Then step-by-step the authoritative humans (rabbis, priests) got into the spiritual picture – since the life was getting more sophisticated and complex. Those authoritative humans were needed for Torah-guidance tailoring and interpretation. And with the authoritative humans as Torah-guidance tailors and interpreters, the foundation for anti-Semitism was developed.
• The authoritative rabbis and priests in their administrative power (this power has nothing to do with the true spiritual power) began solidifying and strengthening their own administrative power, and they did it by following the ancient technique of “divide and conquer”. Those rabbis and the priests for the last two millenniums constructed an image of mortal enemy of each other betraying the God’s unifying Torah/Bible guidance.
• For the last three centuries with the formation, slowly step-by-step, the Western Judeo-Christian civilization, Jewish-Christian hostility has been reduced, and reduced sharply, in both Jewish and Christian camps, and the opportunity for finding the spiritual Torah-based unity between Jews and Christians, and therefore for reducing the anti-Semitism, has been created.
That is why I believe the reestablishing of Torah/Bible-guided spiritual unity between the Jews and the Christians is the key in fighting the anti-Semitism.
Your assessment of the future of American and Israeli Jewry depends on how you define the Jewish identity.
If you define it, as traditional rabbis are doing, by being born to a sort of halakhic Jewish family, the future is bleak. Indeed, the Jewish majority in America and Israel is increasingly being born to non-halakhic Jewish families.
However if you define it, as the Jewish majority is doing, by the results of a sort of Jewish genetic urge for intuitive Torah-guided actions aimed at making our world a much better place for everybody, the future is great. Indeed, our world is getting better through scientific discoveries, social progresses, economic innovations and technology advances, and Jewish people are the leaders here.
The assessment of Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of AISH community is bleak since he, like all traditional rabbis, defines Jewishness by being born to a “pure” Jewish family. He says: (http://www.aish.com/jw/s/American-Jewry-is-Disappearing.html?s=mm)
The recent Jewish People Policy Institute study found that outside of Orthodoxy, fewer Jews are getting married, those marrying are marrying later and having fewer children and intermarriage rates are increasing. The combination of these three factors raises the daunting question of the future of American non-Orthodox Jews. Among all non-Orthodox Jews in the 25-54 age group, just 15% are married to a Jewish spouse and have Jewish children. Intermarriage rates increase the younger the generation. Among those aged 40-44, 60% are intermarried. Among those aged 35-39, it is 73%, and 75% of those aged 30-34 have a non-Jewish spouse.
The assessment of Michael Steinhardt of The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life is very much optimistic since, like a good Jewish intellectual, he defines Jewishness by Jewish actions. He says:
The last 300 years is the most enlightened — it is when Jews really shined. I would use the word superior, except people blanch when I use that word. But it’s really what I mean: Jews have accomplished so much, so inexplicably out of proportion to their numbers, in these 300 years, and it’s one of the great failures of Jewish education that that’s not focused on at all. The modern state of Israel is the Jewish miracle of the 20th century, but it’s the secular part of Israel that’s the miracle. It’s the extraordinary achievement, it’s the technology, the military, the development of a society out of nothing using Zionist ideals, taking people from terrible places and making them Israeli citizens. Israel has become, for me, the substitute for religion.
It looks like the non-halakhic majority of American Jewry is on the side of Michael Steinhardt, not on the site of Rabbi Efrem Goldberg. They are sure they are not disappearing – they are changing, flourishing, and advancing the better world for everybody. They are preserving their historic greatness.
However, many in the non-halakhic Jewish majority may disagree with Michael Steinhardt on the fundamental question of the source of Jewish historic greatness. It looks like Michael Steinhardt believes this source is the God/Torah-empty atheism. However, it is strongly believed the source is the in-build God/Torah-based guidance. This guidance is transferred from generation to generation genetically and educationally. Some Jews acknowledge it openly, and those Jews are called religious; the rabbis and synagogues guide them. However, many Jews prefer not to have rabbis and synagogues approving their actions – these are called atheists.
Many intellectual Jews are dreaming to see a friendly spiritual discussion between Rabbi Efrem Goldberg and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt with the sole purpose to find a common Jewish spiritual platform on the Jewish identity and Torah-guided actions in our Judeo-Christian civilization. The following two questions may be addressed at the discussion:
If so many Jews were not asking the rabbis for their advice, why the rabbis who are concerned with the future of Jewish Nation would not approach the Jews who call themselves atheists or non-religious with a convincing Jewish history-based message that says:
We the Jews have been successful because we have in-build spiritual GPS guiding us along the Jewish spiritual values received from our Jewish families and communities – with the help of rabbis and synagogues, if such help is needed, or without such help for those who feel they already know how to do it.
If intermarriage is a contemporary Jewish trend, why the rabbis who are concerned with the future of Jewish Nation would not approach the Jews who decided to intermarry with a convincing Torah-guided message that says:
Your families can be much stronger and purposeful if your families live along the lines of Jewish Torah-guided traditions and we the rabbis are happy to help you.
I am trying to judge everything based on the Jewish moral principles rooted in the Jewish history. My Jewish moral principles have moved me to proclaim the following four items, although loved by the news media, as the false indicators of the failure of Trump’s presidency.
#1. The “Trump is incompetent” declaration is a false indicator of the Trump’s presidency failure. Those who would be described nowadays as “incompetent people” since they rejected the traditional way of doing politics were the creators of Judaism. One of them was an “incompetent” Abraham who, in spite of the lack of any experience as an acknowledged spiritual leader, found One God for everybody.
#2. The “Trump is illegitimate president” declaration is a false indicator of the Trump’s presidency failure. Those who would be described nowadays as “illegitimate leaders” since they did not receive the majority votes made our world a better place for everybody. One of them was an “illegitimate leader” Moses who, in spite of the lack of any experience as an acknowledged political leader, brought a million Jews out of Egypt slavery to become a free nation.
#3. The “Trump is destroying the established order” declaration is a false indicator of the Trump’s presidency failure. Those who would be described nowadays as assaulters on the “established order” since they tried to change the malfunctioning established order earned the praise of future generations. One of them was a “rabbi-destroyer” Joshua (who soon after his death to be called Jesus Christ) who, in spite of the prohibition to teach the Torah to the non-Jews, began teaching the Torah to the non-Jews who had become the Christians.
#4. The “Trump owns his victory to Russians” declaration is a false indicator of the Trump’s presidency failure. Nothing is wrong with the Russians spying on the US and trying to influence everything to benefit the Russian policies. We in the US are doing the same – we are spying on Russia and we are trying to do everything there to benefit our own policies. And our own Jewish Esther spied on the Court of King Artaxerxes (the Story of Purim) to influence the King’s policies and save the Jewish people.
So what are the true indicators of success of Trump’s presidency? I believe there are four such indicators.
#1. Significant improvements in the restoration of economy good enough to create well-paid jobs for everybody of the pre-retirement age that creates the near full employment and reduces significantly the welfare/unemployed population.
#2. Significant improvements in the restoration of Judeo-Christian legal foundation of the nation that manifests by a decisive spiritual contribution of priests and rabbis in legislating at all levels of government.
#3. Significant improvements in the restoration of US leading role in international affairs that reduces the probability of large-scale military confrontations.
#4. Significant improvements in American-Russian relations that develops the truly mutually beneficial collaboration in the fight against Islamic terrorism and in other areas of mutual interests.
If Trump succeeds in all that, he will be reelected for the second term and the history will remember him as one of the greatest US presidents. If he fails, the next time the people will elect somebody else and the history will treat him as a president who was defeated by powerful political swamp, which by the time of his presidency had become an All-Mighty one.
It seems to me, something is missing in this sermon.
From a sermon by Rabbi Sacks:
Judaism identified three distinct moral sensibilities each of which has its own voice and vocabulary. They are  the ethics of the king,  the ethics of the priest and fundamentally,  the ethics of the prophet.
Jeremiah and Ezekiel talk about their distinctive sensibilities:
For the teaching of the law [Torah] by the priest will not cease,
nor will counsel [etzah] from the wise [chakham],
nor the word [davar] from the prophets. (Jer. 18:18)
They will go searching for a vision [chazon] from the prophet, priestly instruction in the law [Torah] will cease, the counsel [etzah] of the elders will come to an end. (Ez. 7:26)
Priests think in terms of Torah. Prophets have “the word” or “a vision.” Elders and the wise have “etzah”. What does this mean? … Kings and their courts are associated in Judaism with wisdom – chokhmah, etzah and their synonyms. … The prophetic voice is quite different, impassioned, vivid, radical in its critique of the misuse of power and the exploitative pursuit of wealth. … The ethic of the priest, and of holiness generally, is different again. The key activities of the priest are lehavdil – to discriminate, distinguish and divide – and lehorot – to instruct people in the law, both generally as teachers and in specific instances as judges.
I am not a rabbi, I am just a thinking Jew as the majority of Jews are, and I feel we are missed in this triangle. I feel we are the fourth cornerstone of Judaism – we the individual humans of Judaism whose ethics are distinct moral sensibilities as well. We are not teaching the Jewish spirituality; we are not counseling any formal congregation of people; and we are not instructing anybody on any Talmudic rules. We have, at least most of us have, Jewish ethics in our genes clarified and enhanced by our families, education and our encounters with many in the triangle above.
What we are doing is modifying and tailoring the “three distinct moral sensibilities” to our distinctive and unique Jewish lives. We are trying, with the help of rabbis or without such help, to figure out how to be the Chosen and how to build together with our Christian human brothers and sisters a better Torah-guided world for everybody. Below are a few example.
As a scientist and as a socially active person. One of the areas of my professional involvement was American-Russian relationships, and one of the challenges was whether we had to influence their “perestroika” after the dissolution of the Soviet Union – if they are “made in the image of God” as we are, may be it is better to let them find their own way without our forceful interference.
My friend Naum L. was trying hard to strengthen Jewishness of his extensive and politically active family and one of the challenges was to decide what is closer to being Jewish – being politically conservative or liberal.
Another my friend Matus S. was involved in shaping up Holocaust exhibitions – should they demonstrate the survival of Jewish nation spiritually or just the massacres.
Our Jewishness forced my friends and myself to look for spiritual answers to all challenges in the above – probably as the fourth cornerstone of Judaism.
I tried to find an answer to a question of why our rabbis are not a significant help to us, and what I found is discomforting for the rabbis and myself.
The rabbis are trained to teach everything what Judaism created for the last three millenniums, and it was enough when the Jewish majority was isolated from the rest of the “native” people where the Jewish majority lived. For the last two centuries, this situation has changed drastically. Now the Jewish majority lives peacefully together with the non-Jewish population and is building a better world together with Gentiles. Now the Jewish majority lives in the democratic societies where all problems are being resolved by listening to each other and finding a consensus with the others. However, our rabbis are not trained to do that – they are trained to indoctrinate. And the Jewish majority is figuring out, on their own, what to do – how to stay the Chosen and how to build a better world with the others.
From the news media:
The study, released by the Pew Research Center, which surveyed the residents of 18 countries, found that only 80 percent of respondents would accept Jews as fellow citizens.
Thus, the 20% of the Gentiles would not accept the Jews as fellow citizens. May it be that this 20% are the Gentiles reside nearby the strictly orthodox Jewish enclaves and observe the unwillingness of these Jews to find a consensus on how to follow common society rules and build a better world for everybody.