(Or more correctly, the lack thereof)
I recently received an e-mail from an Orthodox rabbi whose application to work for a computer security company was apparently rejected because the company has a policy of not hiring Orthodox Jews. The e-mail requested that I send an e-mail to the CEO of the company protesting the company’s policy of "racial discrimination."
This is how anti-Semitism is defined by even the most devout Torah Jews: as racial discrimination. How a policy apparently aimed exclusively at Orthodox Jews can be explained as "racial discrimination" I do not know. But the point of this is, isn’t Judaism a religion? Doesn’t it have teachings, beliefs, and theology? Why then is anti-Semitism always and everywhere reduced to a mere ethnic prejudice? Why is anti-Semitism never, even by the devout and observant, attributed to opposition to the actual content of Judaism? I’m serious about this. Why isn’t it?
I spent six years in the Catholic Church and have studied other forms of chr*stianity. One thing those religions have is apologetics. They are accustomed to opposition to the content of their religions and so have developed systematic defenses of those beliefs as well as attacks exposing the weaknesses in the beliefs of their opponents. Now, I certainly do not subscribe to any of these false religions, but I must admit that I appreciate the fact that they acknowledge their beliefs enough to actually defend them rather than complaining exclusively about ethnic prejudice against Greeks and Irish.
As a Noachide, I am convinced—absolutely certain—that Torah Judaism is objectively the true religion and that the Seven Laws of the Sons of Noah are the objective requirements of the True G-d of all non-Jewish humanity. I arrived at my position after a lifetime of intense study and attribute my beliefs not only to my experiences but also to simple logic. I believe that while my personal experiences helped me along, the objective truth of Torah may be demonstrated to any reasonable person whose mind is not dogmatically closed to G-d and the supernatural. Yet while I am emotionally "loaded for bear" in the war between Truth and falsehood, I find that the Jewish world—unfortunately very much including the Torah world—simply does not seem to possess the mindset or vocabulary for this type of struggle. Instead anti-Semitism is reduced to an ethnic prejudice against the Jewish people, and the conventional response to it is to war against "prejudice" of any kind (usually defined as belief in any sort of objective religious truth) in the name of enlightenment liberalism. This from the practitioners of a religion that still teaches that a man may have more than one wife and continues to pray three times a day for the restoration of animal sacrifices. Perhaps it is embarrassment at the true contents of Judaism that leads so many Jews to keep silent about it. Is anyone ashamed?
So the opponents of Judaism—especially those who accept the authority of the Jewish Bible—are potentially easy pickin’s. Unless they are close-minded dogmatists, they are vulnerable to being shown the error of their ways and coming to acknowledge the Jewish G-d, Torah, and Nation. Yet where is the apologetic establishment to refute these people? It could be done so easily. Where is the literature? Where are the media? The organizations?
Well, there are media, and literature, and organizations out there, but none of them defend Judaism. Instead they exist to tell the anti-Semite that he should make no distinctions between Jew and non-Jew (?????), that it doesn’t matter what one’s religion is (???????), that "religious affiliation" is less important than fellow-citizenship in a secular state. And implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, the "anti-discrimination" doctrine is extended to mean one shouldn’t "discriminate" against homosexuals, or recognize the different roles of men and women, or even to make a distinction between good and evil. This is Jewry’s only response to its theological opponents, and we Noachides who have been there and seen the light simply don’t seem to fit in anywhere. Is this why we gave up our former cherished beliefs and stopped celebrating chr*stmas and e*ster? We did that because "religion isn’t important?" Because it’s wrong to "discriminate?"
No wonder the Beit HaMiqdash hasn’t been rebuilt!
It’s not just that we Noachides know what it is like to believe that Judaism was superceded and then to be convinced that it wasn’t. It’s also knowing that there are people out there who are genuinely hurting, starving for the Truth. There are an infinite number of claimants to religious truth, and we remember being confused almost to the point of despair. The Truth turned out to be so simple, so obvious! But we had to find it on our own; there was no one to help us. The only advice the Jewish establishment (including the Orthodox establishment) has for non-Jews is that one should not be guilty of "racial prejudice" against Jews. But what about prejudice against HaShem???
The fact is that Judaism is so disassociated with religious belief in the general mind, so strictly defined as an "ethnic minority," that people who hate G-d and the Torah don’t even bother to attack it. Instead, people who have an axe to grind with G-d attack chr*stianity, whose theological content is universally acknowledged. Does the atheist wish to assert the ignorance of anyone who believes in such a Being? He debates with a Protestant preacher, or a komer or bishop of one of the ancient churches. He ridicules chr*stianity, its people, its teachings, its Popes, etc. After all, isn’t it chr*stianity that presents G-d to the world? And even more ironically, when a blasphemer seeks to ridicule the Holy Torah, to deny its veracity, to attribute it to primitive mythology, with whom does he debate? I rest my case.
Meanwhile, who attacks Judaism? No atheist does so, however much he may despise it in his heart. The only attacks Judaism faces are attacks on the Jewish people. For some reason G-d never seems to enter the picture. Even the wicked Haman (yimach shemo vezikhro!) did not attack the concept of G-d, but told the people that the Jews went into their Holy Temple to practice "witchcraft" and then came out "to destroy the world." So the current situation seems to have an ancient precedent. And what is that situation? It is precisely this: people who hate G-d (chas vechalilah!) attack chr*stianity. The Jews are attacked almost exclusively by "religious fanatics" who believe that `Am Yisra’el is "the devil’s people" (chas vechalilah!) The Notzerim have the privilege of defending their "gxd." What do Jews get to defend? They get to defend the shape of their noses.
So, what are we Noachides supposed to defend?
I have no idea how this illogical situation came about. Perhaps two millenia of attacks by fellow-theists have allowed the intellectual defense of HaShem and the Torah to atrophy. Or perhaps the absence of Jewish apologetics leaves the atheists unchallenged and contributes to their ignoring of the source of all they despise. But I do know that as anti-Semitism increases, even in the philo-Semitic, pro-Zionist Bible Belt, that there needs to be an instrumentality of some sort to answer the charges and to prove that the Jewish religion is the true one. Sooner or later there will be an incident, perhaps a tragic one, G-d forbid. To leave the reaction to the conventional "anti-discrimination" crowd will not only create the impression that Judaism’s beliefs (if it even has any beyond the doctrine of religious subjectivism itself) are indefensible and groundless, but leave the door open to a dangerous misrepresentation of Judaism by liberal zealots who could wish for nothing better than to be rid of those troublesome philo-Semites in the Bible Belt—the only people in the chr*stian world whose image of the Jewish people is frozen in the Biblical era rather than in the chr*stian era. And any such alienation will be exploited by the enemies of the Jewish people to make the situation even worse.
While I must admit to being terminally puzzled at how this situation arose, there is one particular mode of thought that does contribute to Jewish silence on matters of theology and concentration on ethnic defense. That is the well-established principal that Judaism is not a missionary religion. And properly understood, that is very true. As a national covenant between G-d and one particular people, Judaism accepts converts (perhaps it would be more correct to say that the Jewish Nation accepts naturalized citizens) but does not seek them. Certainly its mission is not to make every human being a Jew. Also, since all non-Jewish people are Halakhically Noachides and subject to the Seven Laws, they will be judged by G-d with respect to the totality of their successes and failures in a way that no mere human can. That is to say, it isn't a situation where every single non-Jew who dies without being apprised of his true religious obligations will surely be eternally damned. However, a person is still far better off knowing the Truth than believing a falsehood, and the Jewish people will certainly be safer in a world of conscious Noachides than in a world of false religions, however tolerant and benign. And certainly Judaism’s current association in the public mind with secularism and utter religious subjectivism is a disaster waiting to happen, G-d forbid. But above all these considerations is the simple fact that educating non-Jews as to their true duties to the G-d Who made them is what constitutes the Jewish mission to the rest of humanity.
However, this mission has been sabotaged not only by millenia of non-Jewish opposition but by a misinterpretation of the Jewish people’s non-missionary status. Because the Jew’s primary duty is simply to keep the Torah and because he is not charged with making Jews of everyone else, his reaction to proselytization is not to demonstrate the Truth of Torah and the falsehood of his challenger but rather to suggest that people shouldn’t debate such things but respect the "right" of each individual to "decide for himself" what to believe. To the religious missionary who sincerely believes that he must convert every individual in order to save him from eternal damnation (and who often assumes other religions are attempting to do the same thing) this utter rejection of the importance of religious debate is absolutely incomprehensible. Does Judaism, the religion he himself acknowledges as his own predecessor, really believe the issue of religious Truth is so unimportant?
The truth of the matter is of course that the Torah Jew does regard the matter of supreme importance, which is why he refuses to depart from the Torah. But he can’t tell his opponent this. He must adopt the rhetoric and the pose of a religious subjectivist to avoid the "unpleasantness" of religious debate—an "unpleasantness" which most other religions thrive on. Small wonder that his missionary opponent is floored at his apparent attitude and wonders if this is indeed the same religion practiced by Moses and David!
Unfortunately, it does not end there. After two centuries of breathing the poisoned air of the enlightenment and thinking it is oxygen, the Torah Jew has given the doctrine of public agnosticism (as a means of avoiding theological debate) all the militant public support that he has refused to give the eternity of Torah. In fact, in order to avoid becoming a "missionary" the Jew has in fact become just that—not for Torah, but for the agnosticism and religious subjectivism of the enlightenment! Indeed, those who do this seem completely blind to the innate hypocrisy of their position. I myself engaged in a brief and very fruitless e-mail debate with an Orthodox Jew who had publicly attacked Jonny Hart for his e*ster "BC" comic strip which stressed the traditional chr*stian doctrine of supercession. I asked this individual why Torah Jews were not similarly publicizing the eternity of the Torah and why they could never accept the claims of another religion. I could not believe the response I got. Jews don’t do that, I was told. Jews don’t fight. Jews don’t make demands. Jews don’t tell other people what to believe.
I beg to disagree. It is true that Jews do not demand that non-Jews acknowledge the Jewish G-d and the eternity of the Torah, but they too often demand that they acknowledge the secular/enlightenment convention of religious subjectivism, even at the price of disobeying their "gxd"’s supreme commandment to convert other people. It is true that Jews don’t demand that non-Jews switch to another religion, but they too often—after assuring their missionary opponent that his religion is "fine just as it is"—insist that he alter his prayers, change the words of his sacred texts, and immediately drop any and all beliefs which violate the enlightenment convention. Then, after the "non-missionary" Jew has made these demands (often with the threat that to disobey will be to risk being labeled a Nazi), the non-missionary, non-confrontational Jew once again assures his completely buffaloed opponent that his religion is just fine exactly as it is, and then pats himself on the back for being morally superior to those people who want to change other people’s religions.
Pardon me while I vomit.
Am I being too harsh? No I am not. This attitude is absolutely inexcusable in an environment in which Jews may freely state and defend their theological positions. Anyone who is not "too open minded" to dictate internal changes in other people’s religions is not "too open minded" to respond to missionary claims with solid theological facts as to why the Torah is eternally valid and solid theological refutation of anyone who claims otherwise.
Unfortunately, the hour is late and old habits of thought (which are actually not as old as they seem) may be unalterable before some desire disaster (G-d forbid!) befalls the whole world. But nothing can change the simple truth that the G-d of Israel is G-d, the Torah is true and eternal, and Israel is His people. But I am afraid no one will hear these simple truths. As anti-Semitism and attacks on Jews increase throughout the world, all non-Jews will hear is the danger of dogmatic religious attitudes, of the belief in objective religious Truth, and the evil of ethnic/racial prejudice. At least that’s all they’ll hear from Jews. If it is up to us Noachides to spread the word, then very well. But unfortunately, there aren’t very many of us and with the current Jewish attitude that isn’t going to change.
For two millenia too many people have been led to believe that G-d and the Jewish People are opponents, that in order to cling to one, one must oppose the other, when the truth is of course the exact opposite. For most of that time this message came from non-Jews. Ironically, thanks to the enlightenment attitude towards objective religious truth, it now comes from the Jews themselves. And I am afraid that this assertion is one matter in which they will be believed. G-d help us all.