Hard, Ain’t it Hard

It’s hard being a Noachide. It’s frustrating. Unbelievably frustrating. And not for the reasons you might think.

It’s not because we’re a religious minority. The politically correct, "multicultural" society we live in worships religious minorities. It’s not because we’re persecuted, because we’re not (or if we are, I certainly know nothing about it). It’s hard being a Noachide because a Noachide believes that Judaism is the true religion, and our society not only hasn’t a clue as to what Judaism is, but it blatantly misunderstands it and misinterprets it beyond anything we Noachides can recognize. And because society doesn’t understand what Judaism and its message are, it doesn’t know what we’re about. That’s why it’s frustrating.

Most of us Noachides are from a Fundamentalist, Bible Belt background, and that is how we were drawn to Judaism and the Jewish people and to our current position of acknowledging them. But try telling that to an enlightened 20th Century American.

"You’re a what? Boy, that must take some guts. I imagine you must live in fear of your life from all those illiterate, inbred, congenitally retarded, bigoted, hateful, Bible-thumping peckerwoods that we’d be so much better off without. Oh, and incidentally, congratulations on having the courage to be a doubtful, independent, freethinking skeptic who rejects the authority of some old book of fables. Well, gotta go now and demonstrate solidarity with the Australian aborigines. Keep up the good fight!"

This is the conventional wisdom of 20th Century America. For you see, the culturally enlightened have never understood that it is precisely our dedication to that hateful book of redneck bigotry (the Bible) that made Noachides out of us and forced us to reject chr*stianity as a false, unauthorized innovation. And this is for the simple reason that aside from us Noachides and the Fundamentalist Protestants from whose midst we came, no one associates "the People of the Book" with the Book. For everyone else Jews are the oppressed victims of the Middle Ages, a rootless and powerless people who can only be on the receiving end of "intolerance" and who most assuredly would never "persecute" anyone else. After all, look at what they’ve been through! But this look back at Jewish history never seems to go beyond the past two thousand years. No one but us seems to remember what came before.

Contrast this benevolent view of the Jewish people, being martyred for two millenia for the causes of enlightenment, secular humanism, and religious subjectivism with those bloodthirsty Neanderthals one reads about in the evil redneck Book. That there Joshu-ay feller coulda been a Ku-Klucker hissef, shore ‘nuff. Probably was, in fact. And that barbaric law code that mandated capital punishment for the basic human right of worshipping whatever "gxds" or "gxddesses" one chose, that regulated slavery, that oppressed women, that called for the extermination of "indigenous peoples," and that had a cult of animal sacrifice which no enlightened human being could possibly justify—well, let’s just say that no wonder such a hateful, reactionary Book became the totem and fetish of the brutal backwoods redneck.

Meanwhile, on the completely opposite end of the spectrum are those wonderful people, the Jews: powerless rationalists who stood up to power for two thousand years, who only wanted to be left alone because they recognized that it doesn’t matter what "gxd" or "gxddess" one worships—or doesn’t worship—as long as one is a good person. Their religion was a religion of pure reason and pure ethics as opposed to the silly pre-rationalist superstitions of their Bible-thumping oppressors. Could any two things be more inimical than the Bible and the Jews? No wonder the regressive redneck always hangs a Jew from a lamppost whenever he comes upon one.

This is why it’s frustrating to be a Noachide. Not that we’re naïve Qara’ites or anything, but we do tend to identify the Jews with the Bible more than anyone else does. For us in some very real way, the Jew is frozen in amber as Yehoshua` Bin Nun (that’s that there Joshu-ay feller). In fact, he is frozen at the precise moment he is killing a Canaanite—with his blade halfway through his victim’s neck—while above him the very sun stands still. These are the people we acknowledge and whom we seek out. This is not the image of the Jews—especially among the Jews themselves.

Small wonder that in popular wisdom one’s attitude towards the Jewish people is inversely proportional to one’s attitude towards the savage Book. Who are the "philosemites?" People like Thomas Jefferson, who hated the "old testament" and its G-d and who went through his Bible with a razor blade cutting out everything he didn’t like. He was "tolerant," you see, and that is what philosemitism is all about. Or Mark Twain, another "admirer of the Jews" who hated the Jewish G-d, whom he considered to be based on some penny-ante desert satrap. Then of course there are people like John Shelby Spong. Spong believes in "tolerance" because, unlike the evil Book, he believes there is no objective religious truth (except his own opinions in the matter, that is). So as you can see, when it comes to philosemitism, for being a friend of the Jewish people, "tolerance" is what counts. And it’s all that counts. In fact, if you are of the unfortunate opinion that the "old testament," though inerrant, was superceded later by a "new testament," all the atheist "friends of the Jewish people" will let you know about it, plus how you should throw that terrible Book away. It’s obviously making a monster of you.

Now, it isn’t the attitude of stupid goyim that really rankles. It is the attitude of the Jews themselves. And not the Jewish liberals like the extremely confused ‘Avi Dershowitz (or, as I personally prefer to refer to him, ‘Otoh Ha’Ish). Such ingnoramuses can be laughed off as precisely what they are. No, the really heartbreaking thing about being a Noachide in America today is the attitude of Torah Jewry.

Torah Jewry today is schizophrenic in its self-identity. These are people who pour over ancient texts in the study hall teaching that the ox emerged from the ground horns first, that the distance between the heavens and the earth is "500 walking years," that there were 26 generations from the Creation to the giving of the Torah, and that Methuselah learned personally from Adam (yes, that Adam—the one the rednecks are so fond of) for precisely 243 years, and who then sit down with atheist politicians to mouth platitudes about "tolerance" and "diversity" (code-words for the doctrine that there is no objective religious truth). These are people who believe that G-d dictated—not inspired, but dictated—the entire Torah letter by letter, including the letters’ names, shapes, sizes, and the spaces between them, and yet are afraid the Bible-thumpers are out to get them. These are the people who tell themselves they were exiled in part to spread the knowledge of the One True G-d among the nations of the earth and who then beg city councils to allow them to erect an `eiruv on the grounds that it represents "cultural diversity."

In short, the old saw that "Jews are smart" is greatly exaggerated.

Now, as I said, we Noachides are not Qara’ites. We are aware of, and we acknowledge, not only the Oral Torah but also the authority and rulings of the Sages. But even then, the vast gap between the "primitive" and "bloodthirsty" religion of the Bible and the allegedly higher "Talmudic Judaism" is simply not that vast (in fact, the religion of the Bible and Talmudic Judaism are identical). We keep waiting for the shattered paradigm to begin to mend, but we are still waiting. I mean, if anything would have brought about a full restoration of the Torah worldview (which, despite what everyone on every side of the issue would like to believe, is an ancient one not even reconcilable with Locke and Jefferson, much less Hollywood’s values), it would have been the Return to Zion. The Fundamentalist Protestants from whom most of us were spawned were excited. We Noachides are even more excited, as our beliefs are unadulterated with mistaken chr*stian notions. But the modern Jew, even the most observant, still derives his self-image from his ancestors’ sufferings in the Middle Ages, and this means he must above all find a nice, rational, non-fanatical reason for being there. And what is that reason?

It’s every reason except the real one. It’s because he needs a place where he can live without fear of his Bible-thumping neighbors, or it’s because of Churban ‘Europa’, or because he brings "democracy" to the Middle East, or because he has improved the health-care of the Arabs or liberated the Arab women and given them the right to vote or some such nonsense. Every reason he gives is patently phony, either because the Arabs don’t want his social progress or because physical safety can be had elsewhere—and in a much greater degree, too. No, it is at all times a mitzvah—and at some times a chiyyuv—for the Jewish people to live in that particular land because it is only there that the cultus can be practiced. The cultus. You know, the animal sacrifices. And the vegetable and meal sacrifices. Because it is only in Jerusalem that the Temple may stand.

But today’s Jew—even the most "Torah observant"—cannot bring himself to take even the most elementary steps to bring this situation about because he has painted himself into a corner with liberalism. He can’t expel the non-Jews from his land because his ancestors were expelled in medieval Europe. He can’t be "intolerant" because he would be betraying his ancestors who died for "tolerance." And he could never do anything so hideously primitive and irrational as restoring an ancient sacrificial cult with no humanistic rationale whatsoever. He now prides himself on being too rational. Irrationality is the characteristic of his chr*stian opponent, not his, he has told himself. So for 35 years the ancient site of the Temple—the holiest spot on earth—has been in his hands and he can only thank G-d that the moslems are there with their claims to give him an excuse to do nothing about it. Heaven forfend that his dearly-prized self-identity as the perennial rational victim of irrational superstition should be threatened. After all, he’s not a redneck—is he?

Actually, that’s not entirely true. There are some Torah Jews who do not seem to feel the need to be the poster children for secular humanism and who actually want to begin preparations—in fact, have already done so. But they can only do so much with the entire rest of the Nation against them. And once again, the opposition of secular Jews is no surprise, but the utter lack of interest among the vast majority of Torah Jews is heartbreaking. One feels compelled to ask the Zionist-oriented Torah community what they think they came home for. Why undergo the constant danger of living in a Land surrounded by a non-Jewish majority with no compunction about murdering you any time of the night or day? A people who not only never get tarred with the charge of antisemitism like every pro-Israel Baptist preacher does but who can even count of the sympathy and support of most of the world (including both Castro and Pat Buchanan and their corresponding ideological soulmates)? Why not relinquish Jerusalem, or at least share it, if it will lead to "peace?" Why is Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem so essential?

Is it because the Jews, who have known oppression themselves, are better custodians for a multicultural city? Because the Jews are a more appropriate caretaker for a city that is the common property and heritage of all humanity? Is that the reason? I suppose it is for people who think the justification for an `eiruv is cultural diversity. But whenever a "modern Orthodox" personality or organization takes time out from issuing paeans of praise for "tolerance" to complain about what the moslems are doing to Har HaBayit I can only wonder why that should be of any concern to them whatsoever. Because they are never going to admit to themselves why they are in the Land--and especially in Jerusalem—until they are cured of their national schizophrenia.

You see, it comes down to this. Every time an antisemitic incident occurs in the Diaspora, the blame is placed on religious objectivism, the "reactionary" idea that there is a true religion and all others are therefore false. The Jewish people in America today—very much including the Torah observant—are being encouraged to call for the adoption of religious subjectivism—the idea that there is no one true religion and that all religious beliefs are equally valid (and therefore equally invalid) as the one prerequisite for a decent society, and especially for a society in which Jews are free to observe the Torah. The irony in this situation is obvious from the very idea that the Torah is something Jews should be "free" to observe, since it is in fact an obligation from Heaven upon them. Subjectivism makes Torah observance something one does for oneself, as self-actualization or ethnic pride or to blatantly promote subjectivism itself, but never as the "yoke of Heaven" that it in fact is (just as Noachism is not something I "chose" to celebrate my individual autonomy but the objective duty of all non-Jewish humanity).

But the real poison of religious subjectivism among Jews is that it cuts the ground out from under the Torah restoration that is the only reason Jews have to live in 'Eretz Yisra’el. Torah Jews even in Israel will never be able to expel the Goyim, destroy their places of "worship," set up a Torah (rather than secular western-style democratic) system of governance, and rebuild the Holy Temple and perform all those "gruesome" and "irrational" cultic rituals as long as the powerful American Orthodox Jewish community has made religious subjectivism its national motto. And with every incident the cry for "tolerance" (subjectivism) is raised ever more loudly. Ironically, the more Jews who are attacked and murdered in America (G-d forbid!), the more Jewish leaders cut their own throats by promoting an ideology that will make it all but impossible to build the Holy Temple and observe the Torah in its fullness, which is the only way for Jews to be truly safe. But after two millenia of exile and two centuries of "enlightenment," the poison of modern notions as opposed to the Ancient Truth has had its effect. One can only hope that some tragedy in the future does not lead Jewish leaders to become so "tolerance"-addicted that they abandon the Zionist enterprise altogether.

So you see, I hope, why I’m frustrated. Even before I became a Noachide I used to read Hal Lindsay and imagine all sorts of wonderful things were about to happen. But no one else seems to be in a hurry. In the Bible Belt, with our foolish association of the "humanistic" Jewish people with those "neanderthals" in the Bible, we thought differently. In fact, a few years ago a preacher in Mississippi actually bred a strain of cattle and exported them to Israel precisely so a halakhically-qualified "red heifer" would always be available any time it was needed. I wonder whatever happened to those cattle. And I wonder whatever happened to that preacher. Has he also, I wonder, grown disappointed and cynical?

The only thing I can be sure of is that that preacher will never be included on a list of the "friends of the Jewish people." Oh, no. Much too primitive for that, you know. I’m sure his place on that list will be given to John Shelby Spong instead.