The concept of Supreme Power over us the humans called God is vital for our human wellbeing. It is vital even for those who call themselves atheists. It is vital mainly not for the purpose of praying to God and asking for guidance and favors but most importantly for accepting God as the unchallenged source of our moral rules, which cannot be changed by us the humans.
That is why it is difficult for me to understand the reason for an orthodox rabbi Donniel Hartman to dethrone God from the first to the second place in Judaism.
From the news media:
Donniel Hartman, the head of an orthodox educational powerhouse, Shalom Hartman Institute, argues that the great monotheistic religions are fatally flawed — by an obsessive focus on God that overwhelms what should be our prime imperative, to live decent, moral lives.
Donniel Hartman insists his resonant call to put God second is not some superficial provocation. Rather, it is issued out of a conviction that “the more we put ethics first, the more I am a religious person” and the less that God is “a destructive force in our lives.”
The rabbi Hartman’s innovations are what indeed we need in Judaism and in other religions, for Jews and Gentiles, namely – to teach how to live decent, moral lives and how and why to put the ethics first. That is indeed necessary and long overdue – to bring back the true meaning of the duties of the Chosen, which are to build a better world for everybody with everybody – the world where the complete majority can live decent, moral lives along the lines of Torah/Bible guidance. However, to do all that we need to have God at the first place in our lives.
In order to decide whether we live decent, moral lives we have to define common basic characteristics of decency and morality. Those characteristics have to be alike for Jews and Christians of different spiritual streams from the ultra-Orthodox to the ultra-Atheists. In the Judeo-Christian world, without One God at the first place with His Torah/Bible-codified rules for decent, moral behavior, it is impossible to have decent, moral lives. The current rules for “decent, moral behavior” are different for many Jewish communities as well as for many Christian communities.
Here are just a few examples. Some believe in the decency of socialism-inspired redistribution of wealth with the “helping hand” of the government while the others support free-market capitalist system with the mitzvah/charity helping hands. Some believe in the absolute morality of “do not do to the others what I do not want to be done to me” while the others consider to be just the severe punishment of devilish people. Some believe that only a family of man-woman-children is decent and moral while the others do not see anything wrong with a gay family. Some believe the decency demands considering a person to be Jewish if he himself believe so while the others trust in a rabbi’s decision on the Jewishness.
Thus, what principles are decent and moral enough to be used for building a better world for everybody, even for everybody inside the Jewish nation? I do not see any other approach but – in the course of competitive spiritual and peaceful discussions – to find it in the guidance of God at the first place.
The history tried to do it without God as was done for example in Stalin’s Russia, in Hitler’s Germany and in Mao’s China and the result was millions and millions of murdered people.
From the news media:
An Israeli rabbinical court did not accept a conversion by an Orthodox rabbi who also helped Ivanka Trump become Jewish.
In the latest case exemplifying the tension between Israel’s rabbinate and Orthodox groups in the Diaspora, a religious court prevented the marriage of an Israeli man and an American woman, who converted under a well-respected New York rabbi, Haskel Lookstein.
And in an unusual twist, which has brought the case into the limelight, Lookstein is also the rabbi who converted Ivanka Trump and officiated at her wedding to Jewish real-estate scion Jared Kushner, an advisor for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
That is one more example of bad moral rabbinical prescripts as the result of removing God from finding proper Torah/Bible-guided decisions.
At Mount Sinai, some human tribe had become Jewish since it decided to follow the God’s prescriptions on “decent, moral lives”. If somebody decides now to follow these prescriptions, this person is Jewish by God’s definition, and no human rabbinical court can change it.
To understand both the true nature of anti-Semitism and how to fight it, we have to get back to the Torah-based essence of Jewish mission of the Chosen. In the era of the politically correct equality of everything and everybody, we are trying to leave this subject to the history or to the internal Jewish religious rituals. In doing so, we deprive ourselves from the opportunity to find the true nature of anti-Semitism and how to fight it.
One of the contemporary very influential rabbis:
What then is anti-Semitism? It is not a coherent set of beliefs but a set of contradictions. Before the Holocaust, Jews were hated because they were poor and because they were rich; because they were communists and because they were capitalists; because they kept to themselves and because they infiltrated everywhere; because they clung tenaciously to ancient religious beliefs and because they were rootless cosmopolitans who believed nothing. Anti-Semitism is a virus that survives by mutating. In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the 19th and 20th centuries they were hated because of their race. Today they are hated because of their nation state, Israel. Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism.
The rabbi is wrong. Anti-Semitism is not a set of contradictions. It is the expression of adversary feelings toward the Jewish people for their invisible God-guided work of convincing the Gentiles to change their understanding of the essence of human existence – from whatever the Gentiles believed in to the Torah/Bible based understanding.
That is at the core of the Jewish mission of the Chosen for all Jews – from atheists to ultra-orthodox. The Jews as the Chosen are not on a mission to rule the world – they are on a mission to change the world without expecting the appreciation of the world. For the entire Jewish people, it is a possibly genetically driven mission impossible to stop.
The rabbi says that anti-Semitism is not a coherent set of beliefs but a set of contradictions, and that is wrong. In order to prove that is wrong, we have to get back to the essence of the Jewish mission of the Chosen. That is the mission of creating a God-guided better world for everybody.
The Torah did not specify the political and social framework for this better world but specified one crucial principle: all the humans are created in the image and likeness of God who is Free Creator not bounded by “too many rules”. Therefore, various groups of Jewish people have been competing from the very beginning and are competing now for a most suitable framework for a better world – the framework where the maximum possible conditions for a human individual to be free, creative and not bounded by “too many rules” – in the image and likeness of God – would be achieved.
Could a society of poor people not restrained by any material possessions be free and creative in the image of God that rabbi Joshua (future Jesus Christ) tested?
Could a society of rich people who have already everything be free and creative in the image of God that many mitzvah-driven Jews tested?
Could a Communist society with the equal distribution of collective wealth provide the creative freedom for everybody in the image of God that Karl Marx tested?
Could a Capitalist society with the equal distribution of individual opportunities provide the freedom for everybody in the image of God that Torah/Bible-guided American founders tested?
Should the Jews try all in the above alone in isolation before presenting their discoveries to the non-Jews as the orthodox Jews are doing, or the Jews have to incorporate themselves into the non-Jewish societies to work together with them as the reform Jews are doing?
The Jews have been trying to test all that by introducing their ideas to various Gentile communities from the very beginning. Some communities liked the ideas and tested them together with the Jews. However, the other communities resisted. They have resisted since the Jewish ideas have been changing their well-established traditions, which were based on much lesser individual freedoms. They believed it is not bad to have a human superior above them (dictator, business owner, religious leader, political guru, president, government, etc.) who is taking care of them and is making them not responsible for all bad things that may happen.
The result of this resistance? Yes, it is what we called anti-Semitism. Therefore, anti-Semitism is not something contradictory and difficult to understand – anti-Semitism is a normal reaction of a normal people to something what is trying to change their way of life. If it is so, a logical way to stop anti-Semitism is to stop changing the world. However, the Jews cannot do it – it is their God-designed, and probably genetically supported, destiny.
Nevertheless, there is a way to mitigate the force of anti-Semitism. This way is for the rabbis to work with the Gentiles to let them understand and accept the Jewish mission and work together on creating a God-guided better world for everybody.
From the news-media:
New York GOP Rep. Peter King on Sunday called again for better surveillance of mosques in the U.S., suggesting Islamic terrorists visit them and said that critics can “cry all they want” about the tactic amounting to a civil liberties violation.
King, a member of the House’s Homeland Security and Select Intelligence committees, told “Fox News Sunday” that “99 percent” of Muslims in the United States are good people and that he’s friends with people of the Islamic faith.
“But the fact is, (mosques are) where the threat is coming from,” King said.
He also argued that some Americans have a “blind political correctness” on such issues and that civil libertarians and other critics of better mosque surveillance can “cry all they want.”
Peter King is right – all what he is saying is based not on emotions and politically correct dogmas – everything what he is saying is based on the assessment of real facts collected and analyzed both in open sources and by intelligence community.
If we want to be safe and secure, we have to monitor the mosques until the mullahs in the USA begin interpreting and teaching Quran in a truly peaceful, a sort of Judeo-Christian way.
The problem is that the slogan “Islam is a religion of peace” is true only in the Islamic definition of peace – the Judeo-Christian definition is completely different.
The Islamic peace can be reached only when Quran and Sharia govern the world and all other religions are either eradicated or made subservient to Islam while the Judeo-Christian peace lets other religions live in peace, in friendly cooperation, and in peaceful competition.
The Torah and the Bible are guiding the Jews and the Christians for peaceful competitive coexistence with the others while the Quran is guiding the Muslims to convert the others to Islam or to second-class citizens.
Of course, in the Torah/Bible, there are statements, which could be interpreted as antagonistic to the others, and in the Quran, there are statements, which can be interpreted as messages of love and peace to the others. However, the great majority of Jews and Christians believe that those “antagonistic statements” are referring to concrete historic events and should not be interpreted as the hate of other religions. Contrary to that, the great majority of Muslims would not repudiate the notion that the true peace is possible only when the Quran-based Sharia would rule the world.
Obviously, the Jews and the Christians believe all humans have to live under the guidance of One God described in the Torah/Bible – however, the humans may have different religions reflecting unique communal traditions and history, and that is not the case with the true Muslims.
The Judeo-Christian intellectuals have to work with those Muslims who would like to live in peace and in intellectual collaboration with the Judeo-Christian world and encourage them to create a sort of friendly variety of Islam based on a different, truly peaceful interpretation of Quran. However, it should be done with a real understanding that we are not fighting some adversary Islamic extremist ideology inside the religion of Islam, as some our leader would like us to believe, – we are fighting religion of Islam itself.
And we may succeed, as could be seen from what the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has recently said.
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei warned against the US plots to destroy thousands of years of Islamic civilization through sowing discord among Muslims. “One of the main tools used by the enemies to prevent the birth of modern Islamic civilization is through creating divisions among Muslims,” Ayatollah Khamenei said on Tuesday, addressing a meeting with Muslim scholars, thinkers and political figures attending the 29th International Islamic Unity Conference as well as the Muslim countries’ ambassadors and Iranian officials in Tehran. Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated that the Americans are against the principles of Islam and no one should be deceived by their statements in support of some sects. “The statements of the former US president (George W. Bush) who after the September 11 spoke about the war of the crusades, in fact, indicated the war between the arrogant world and Islam.”
The origin of Judeo-Christian spirituality can be described in the following spiritually Jewish way.
- The great majority of Jews support the Rambam’s 13 principles of faith with the statement that the Torah is immutable and of divine origin.
- The Torah states that God created the humans in His image and likeness – all of them, Jews and non-Jews.
- The Torah defines the image of God as the Creator. If it is so, all the humans have to be creators in their individual (and collective) spheres of human endeavor.
- The Torah defines the way of God’s, and therefore humans, creative work – evaluating the results of a creation: if it is GOOD, it remains alive and continue developing; if it is BAD, it is demolished and replaced by something else.
- The Torah provides the Rules (spirituality, morality, rituals …) for defining GOOD and BAD to be tailored and applied to individual life circumstances.
- The Torah defines one group of the humans, the Jews, as the Chosen to be a sort of testing ground for the Rules and a helper to the others in learning and applying the Rules to their God-guided creative efforts.
- After receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, the Jews – for over a millennium – had accumulated enough experience in applying the Rules in their own realm, and had begun – about two millenniums ago – helping the non-Jews in changing their heathen rules to the Rules of One God.
- At that time, there were no religions of Judaism or Christianity – just the Rules of One God for all the humans created by God in His own image and likeness.
- After the God’s Torah-based Rules began to be followed by all Jews and many non-Jews, some of them began to play the role of interpreters and enforcers of the Rules in their own interpretation with the goal of becoming a sort of human gods for their own peoples – that is the beginning of religions Judaism and Christianity.
- Judeo-Christian spirituality that we are discussing these days is the all-human spirituality based on the Rules of One God specified in the Torah without distortions introduced by some power-grabbing human leaders (in both Christianity and Judaism) without neglecting the unique role of the Jews as the Chosen.
Now, why some people may hate the concept of Judeo-Christian spirituality if, as is seen from the above description, this concept
- has nothing to do with the unique role of the Jews as the Chosen,
- has nothing to do with the unique distinguishing characteristics of Judaism and Christianity as different religions made for two different peoples – Jews and non-Jews,
- makes everybody spiritually equal in their individual pursue of happiness through creative work under one set of guiding rules for all, and
- what most important, spiritually arms us for defending our Judeo-Christian world from its chief spiritual enemy, the militarist Islam, bent on eliminating the Judeo-Christian world?
It looks like the answer is obvious. The haters of the concept of Judeo-Christian spirituality do not appreciate our great civilization, with two spiritual hubs in USA and Israel, and want to change it for something else. They do not understand the mission of the Jews as the Chosen and want do denigrate this mission. The Jewish haters do not believe in the Jewish spiritual strength and therefore think the concept of Judeo-Christian spirituality may encourage the Jews to leaving their faith. All of them are wrong!