Sunday, December 23, 2007

Good Hatred



[taking aim at God's enemies; metaphorically of course]

One accusation which is sometimes made about Orthodox Jews is that we are hateful and intolerant. I think there is some truth to this, however the question is: Is this a bad thing?

If someone loves one thing, he naturally hates the opposite. For example, if I love my father, I will hate anyone who attacks my father. If I love my country, I will hate anyone who attacks my country. If I love nature, I will hate corporate executives who are responsible for willfully destroying the environment for a quick profit. Seemingly, the only person truly without hatred is a person without love – someone completely indifferent.

Consider the example of the Netherlands. The Netherlands is certainly one of the most tolerant nations in the world. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Netherlands were more religiously tolerant than perhaps any other country at that time. Today, marijuana and prostitution are legal, as is euthanasia. This sounds idyllic in a way, however there may be a downside to it. During the German occupation of the Netherlands, about 75% of the Jews were killed, with the collaboration of the Dutch administrators and police. To some extent this was a result of Dutch freedom and pluralism.

Judaism demands an absolute love of God, as it states in Deut. 6:5 “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might”. Similarly, Judaism teaches an absolute hatred of the enemies of God, as it states in Psalms 139:21-22 “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate Thee? And do not I strive with those that rise up against Thee? I hate them with utmost hatred; I count them mine enemies.”

Who are those who “hate God”? In Chofetz Chaim 8:5 they are defined as those people who deny the divine origin of the Pentateuch, the legal portion of the Talmud or any part of them. It must be noted however that Maimonides considered the Karaites to be legitimate Jews, in spite of their rejection of the Talmud, because they had lived since birth in this tradition and had been taught nothing else. Most secular Jews today therefore would not be considered enemies of God, if they were raised with no other beliefs.

In other words the enemies of God whom we must hate are those people who deliberately and willfully reject the validity of God's law or any part of it. They are traitors who are guilty of mutiny.

47 comments:

natschuster said...

I understand that in the Netherlands doctors are euthanizing people who are prefectly healthy but are sufferng from depression, (which is treatable.) Sounds like murder to me.

natschuster said...

With all the Xenophobia and Ethnocentrism that Orthodox Jews are accused of, it is a clear halacha that Jews are required to support Gentile poor, visit the sick of Gentiles, bury their dead, etc. It looks like Jewish law requires Jews to treat Gentiles better than any Secular law requires Gentiles to treat Gentiles.

DrJ said...

JP's views are in fact representative of "classic" sources, such as in the Talmud, Rambam and other rishonim. However, many contemporary orthodox sources, including R Kuk, Rav Aharon Liechtenstein, and R. Amital (Alon Shvut) have hold that today a secular Jew, even a knowledgeable one, is to be viewed with empathy. Previous halachic rulings regarding apostates, etc, were rabbinic positions based on a society that was mostly religious, and where sanctions were a deterrent. Today the situation is completely different.

It is human nature to value one's own views more than those of others, but tolerance of the views of others are a feature of advanced societies, in contrast to primitive tribal societies such as Islamic ones. Tolerance does have a price, but intolerance is even more dangerous.

jewish philosopher said...

Modern orthodox rabbis are tolerant of Reform Jews because Modern Orthodoxy is a mixture of Reform and Orthodox Judaism.

Tolerance is a result of indifference not cultural advancement. Muslims, for example, may be very tolerant of murder.

LakewoodShmuck said...

DITTO MAN

DrJ said...

Since Modern Orthodoxy (although R Kuk could hardly be called modern orthodox...)subscribes to halacha and Reform does not, I don't see how it can be a mixture. MO does utilize rabbinic authority to adapt halacha to contemporary problems, something that Haredi Judaism is loathe to do unless they are forced (such as with organ donation).

Islam is not a violent religion because of "tolerance"-- you know as well as I do that tolerance in this context means openness to the views and values of others, not indifference to anarchy or evil. You are intentionally confusing two different uses of the word in order to make a misleading argument. The kind of tolerance liberals talk about has nothing to do with indifference.

DrJ said...

Was Poland's collaboration with the Nazis a result of their "tolerance"? Was Denmark's resistance to the Nazis a result of their "non-tolerance"?
Your theory is pretty weak.

jewish philosopher said...

Is there anything which modern Orthodox Jews do or believe which both Reform and Orthodox Jews would reject? Therefore it seems to be a blending of both streams of Judaism.

"tolerance in this context means openness to the views and values of others"

Most Germans in the Weimer Republic were open to and tolerant of Nazism. That led to some misfortunes.

DrJ said...

"Is there anything which modern Orthodox Jews do or believe which both Reform and Orthodox Jews would reject? Therefore it seems to be a blending of both streams of Judaism"

That is an odd definition of "blend". By your test, ultra-orthodoxy is a blend of Judaism and Islam or Judaism and Zorastrianism.

"Most Germans in the Weimer Republic were open to and tolerant of Nazism. That led to some misfortunes."

You are once again confusing the terms. This is a dirty trick in debates. The American political system tolerates the existence of extreme movements, including the Nazi party. But its society is not APATHETIC or INDIFFERENT to the evil which their ideas represent. On the other hand the Germans were INDIFFERENT (initially) towards the evil which the Nazis represented, then grew to embrace it. One can hardly call this tolerance.

You are able to be ultraorthodox and hold a job only because of American tolerance, not because of APATHY.

SJ said...

JP-

I agree with drj.

By the way JP, be careful about what you say about reform jews, they are natural born jews and you are not. that means, they can approach Judaism their own way if they want to like anyone else, and as somebody not born into our faith/people, you really don't have the right to say who is a real jew (in the religious sense)and who isn't.

jewish philosopher said...

DrJ, before Reform Judaism existed, Orthodox Judaism was simply called “Judaism”. Likewise before Modern Orthodoxy, ultra-Orthodoxy was just called “Orthodoxy”. So of course there is nothing ultra-Orthodox Judaism and Judaism would disagree about. They are synonymous.

Historically, modern Orthodox arose after Orthodoxy and Reform as a blend of the two for people who felt uncomfortable at either extreme.

Liberal democracy, for better or worse, is basically founded on indifference - "just do whatever you want to, I don't care". You'll notice that it's the more conservative groups who try to get more involved in the lives of other people, prohibiting gay marriage, narcotics, pornography, abortion, etc.

So far this has worked pretty well here in the US. Let's just hope that Muslims don't take advantage of it.

SJ, I look at Judaism as being a religion which puts some emphasis on heredity, not a race. I think most scholars would agree.

Rebeljew said...

Very nice post on religious zealotry. You somehow escaped Masada.

natschuster said...

Jewish Philosopher:

I've spoekn to a number of old timers over the years and they've informed that things that are now considered characteristic of Modern Orthodoxy where at one time considered mainstream. For example, a while back there was no stigma associated with a college education by nay segment of the OJ community. Now in many circles it is frowned upon. There wasn't always a special OJ way of dressing. The black hat is a relatively recent inovation. Of course it could be argued that the reason college is now discouraged by some is because college campuses have become hot beds of promiscuity.

SJ said...

JP- If you look at Judaism at a religion as opposed to a race then you yourself are going agaist the Torah since Jews already EXISTED as a race that God gave the Torah to.

Matan Torah did not create the Jewish people, If you want to believe in the Torah, you have to believe that the Jewish people already existed on a genetic level.

DrJ said...

"DrJ, before Reform Judaism existed, Orthodox Judaism was simply called “Judaism”. Likewise before Modern Orthodoxy, ultra-Orthodoxy was just called “Orthodoxy”. So of course there is nothing ultra-Orthodox Judaism and Judaism would disagree about. They are synonymous."

I agree that the names of these movements are modern constructions, as is the Reform movement. However, MO is still synonymous with Judaism in its commitment to core beliefs and halacha, its just that the emphasis is different. It may have come about in part as a response to assimilation and enlightenment, but responses to changes in Judaism has always been the case, ie Hassidism. Therefore MO is not a departure from Judaism.

I might remind you that some practices of ultra-orthodoxy, ie kollel, are condemned by Rambam as disgracing the Torah. My point is not criticize, but to demonstrate how there have been shifts in emphasis over time, and that this is legitimate.

With regards to definition of Judaism, the best one I've heard is what my kids learned here in Israeli schools: Jews are a nation; and Judaism is the religion of the Jews. Now go look up the definition of a nation....

jewish philosopher said...

Rebel, I am proud of being a Jewish extremist. After all, if Judaism is good, being extremely Jewish is extremely good. Would anyone mind being extremely rich, honest or beautiful?

SJ - I don't see any fundamental difference between Judaism and let's say Islam or Catholicism. The only difference is that Jews believe that you personally don't have to join; if you're mother converted then you're automatically a member of the religion. So Judaism puts an emphasis on heredity which other religions do not. Personally, I see myself as an American Jew, just like someone else might be a Swedish Catholic.

Modern Orthodoxy covers a wide spectrum. However a mainstream modern Orthodox family, where the husband does not pray three times daily, the wife wears pants and no hair covering, the teenage boys and girls go to one school, Adam and Eve are not considered to be historical people, etc. would not have been recognizable anywhere until the early 19th century, if not perhaps later.

jewish philosopher said...

I also want to point out that although Orthodox Judaism, I would like to call it Torah-true Judaism, has changed over time and continues to change, however those changes have been made only for one purpose – to preserve Judaism. Examples would be the creation of the synagogue, the compilation of the Talmud, the employment of professional rabbis, the development of modern yeshivas and creation of Jewish girls’ schools.

Reform and modern Orthodox innovations have been made solely for the purpose of convenience and the imitation of non-Jews. After all, even Zionism is simply an imitation of 19th century European nationalism.

SJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SJ said...

JP- if you disbelieve that the Jewish people exists on a genetic level, then allow me to be the first to excommunicate you.

Good Bye dork! XD

jewish philosopher said...

Most Jews are genetically similar to Syrians, Palestinian Arabs and Druze. If you want to consider Jews to be a race, then they would have to be part of the “eastern Mediterranean race”. And that is only on the male side, not the female.

I’d like to be considered Nordic, personally.

Rebeljew said...

"Rebel, I am proud of being a Jewish extremist. After all, if Judaism is good, being extremely Jewish is extremely good. Would anyone mind being extremely rich, honest or beautiful?"

I guess if a little drinking is good, extreme drunkenness must be terrific.

We need not look far to see what our sages thought of zealotry. Try Gittin 57-58 and Sotah 22b.

jewish philosopher said...

This post is based upon a psak (Jewish legal decision) of the Chofetz Chaim.

I have to admit this. Although I love blogging, I am just getting so sick of random negative comments thrown about by people who have no interest in serious discussion. I still never delete comments, but it's really a pain sometimes.

DrJ said...

"changes have been made only for one purpose – to preserve Judaism. Examples would be the creation of the synagogue, the compilation of the Talmud, the employment of professional rabbis, the development of modern yeshivas and creation of Jewish girls’ schools."

Other examples come to mind, too, like the abolition of yibum (levirate marriage), polygamy, and marriage of minors, also heter iska, selling of chametz, (maybe sheitels??). Yes, they also evolved to preserve Judaism, to allow it to survive the tides of change in the gentile world. How is this different than MO's approach? After all, when the "traditional" Jewish system in the 18th and 19th century experienced mass defection of Jews, all of the different movements were attempts to "adapt". This included making Judaism more "palatable" to the modern person, for whom concepts such as freedom, equality, and scientific progress are essential.

SJ said...

To deny that we Jews are our own people is the equivalent to denying that Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov were our Patriarchs.

jewish philosopher said...

drj "This included making Judaism more "palatable" to the modern person, for whom concepts such as freedom, equality, and scientific progress are essential."

Isn't that also supposed to be the basis of Reform Judaism? The number of leniencies practiced by the ultra-Orthodox which have little basis in the Talmud seem to be few and far between. I would say wigs and making eruvin for entire towns.

sj, is everyone who is descended from Charlemagne (I am by the way) a people? Primarily that patriarchs are our fathers in the sense that we learn from their teachings. For example, a "ben Torah" is not literally the Torah's son. He is a student of the Torah.

SJ said...

JP you are not Jewish, you are not a philosopher, and you are not normal.

Anyone who thinks that they are decended from historical figures like that is automatically wacked.

And we jews are biologically decended from the Patriarchs, read the Torah.

The thing is JP, here is the way it works. If someone converts to the Jewish faith, he becomes so-and-so ben Avraham and we are supposed to treat the convert as if he is apart of the Jewish race also.

I have no absolutely problem with that.

However I do take issue with someone who converted and then denies Jewish peoplehood and then tries to say who is a heritic and who is not amongst natural born Jews.

jewish philosopher said...

So what?

SJ said...

It is not good decorum, to say the least.

DrJ said...

"Isn't that also supposed to be the basis of Reform Judaism?"

Yes, but minus the halacha part.

"The number of leniencies practiced by the ultra-Orthodox which have little basis in the Talmud seem to be few and far between. I would say wigs and making eruvin for entire towns."

So could it be that the difference between MO and UO is the number of, or readiness for, leniencies, within the framework of halacha, allowed for the sake of integration with society at large?
On second thought, its not just the leniencies, MO is pro-active about participation in society, ie college education, etc.

jewish philosopher said...

The way I see it, is that it’s difficult to argue that modern Orthodoxy represents a sincere effort to maintain and continue the observance of Talmudic legislation. Rather it seems to be the partial abandonment of it. Reform is a greater abandonment. Additionally, modern Orthodoxy has adopted non-Jewish beliefs, such as nationalism and evolution. This is also the tradition of Reform.

SJ said...

I think that its for us natural born jews to decide what is jewish and what is not, dork.

DrJ said...

sj,

Some of JPs statements may be offensive and extreme, and sometimes make my temperature rise like yours, but its worthwhile to keep the discussion civil and avoid name calling....

After all remember that in these kind of debates, we don't expect to persuade each other, but to influence other readers...If you want to show that JPs views are wrong or not authentic, then make your arguments and let the readers decide for themselves, don't expect JP (or you) to admit he's wrong or change his mind.

DrJ said...

"The way I see it, is that it’s difficult to argue that modern Orthodoxy represents a sincere effort to maintain and continue the observance of Talmudic legislation."

MO motives are a matter of opinion, but is undeniable that it is committed to halacha, both in content and in process. It is true that while Talmudic law is the basis of Rabbinic Judaism as we now know it, UO is less flexible in reinterpreting and reapplying talmudic statements than is MO.

For example, the classic statements in Brachot about ____ b'isha erva, can be argued as being descriptive (as the MO do)or proscriptive (UO approach), and thus lead to an absolutist or relativist approach to womens' modesty.

"Additionally, modern Orthodoxy has adopted non-Jewish beliefs, such as nationalism and evolution."

Thus depends on the individual, the movements make no statement about that. Rabbi Slifkin comes to mind as a UO person who accepts evolution.

"This is also the tradition of Reform."

Calling something "like Reform" does nothing to discredit it if the common element is trivial in relation to the differences. I could say the UO is like Islam because of its emphasis on covering up women, but only if I ignore the gulf of differences between the two.

Ultimately, belief systems, not unlike scientific theories, are models of reality, not necessarily completely correct, but approximate how the world works in a useful way. So a person chooses the "model" that works for him. Some models are better than others in particular aspects, like choosing a weather prediction model for a particular climate. The model we choose depends on many environmental and personal factors, emotional disposition probably being a major determinant.

So I would say that UO and MO are different "models", both legitimately Jewish in their adherence to halacha (this as always the criteria for Jewish movements). Which one works best? Who knows....

jewish philosopher said...

I guess my judgment is based on the fact that very few Modern Orthodox Jews seem to be very strongly, idealistically committed to the Talmud, which is the book which defines rabbinical Judaism. What percent of Modern Orthodox feel a serious commitment to studying the Talmud? At least a large minority of ultra-Orthodox do.

I think that most people would view Modern Orthodox as, by definition, a blend of secularism and Judaism.

David Ketter said...

Shalom alechem,

Oy...a true Rambamist you are, Ya'acov...that's impressive. Personally preferred Nachmanides myself. :)

I'm curious as to whether or not you support the reinstituted Sanhedrin that Rav Adin Steinsalz serves as Nasi for. This project is especially interesting to me. I have had the pleasure and privilege of dialoguing with many Orthodox rabbinic authorities - mainly settled in Eretz Yisrael, particularly with a rabbi named Binyomin in B'nai Brak.

I am a follower of Yeshua MeNatzaret, approach HaTorah vaNevi'im, vaKetuvim - along with the writings of Shiliachei Yeshua - from a Jewish perspective. Wikipedia thinks that it has me categorized, but that would be difficult to say the least. ;) Feel free to email me at DavidKetter [at] gmail [dot] com if you wish to dialogue further.

Barukh atah baShem G-D.

David Ketter

jewish philosopher said...

Dear Mr. Ketter,

Thanks for your comments.

I hadn’t heard about any recent effort to revive the Sanhedrin and in any case I can’t see how the rulings of such a body would be enforced, given the current political situation of Jewish communities. I don’t believe the present Israeli government would approve of rabbinical stoning for Sabbath violation for example.

I wouldn’t advise you get too interested in Judaism, however. I also was once a member of a Presbyterian church who became curious about the “mother religion” of Christianity, and look what’s happened to me!

Happy holidays!

David Ketter said...

That's rather curious you haven't heard of it. They have quite a wide range of support. Information on them would be available here: http://thesanhedrin.org/en/index.html

As far as my "interest" in Judaism is concerned, it has only served to deepen my appreciation for the Gospel. The weakness of Presbyterian theology, as you may have discovered, is its supplanting of Israel by the Church Universal - which is not the teaching of the apostles, in the least. Rest assured that I would be a convert to Judaism. I was a Gentile when HaShem called me and I will remain what HaShem has made me.

Shabbat Shalom!

jewish philosopher said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. It's interesting, however I don't think it amounts to much.

The authentic Sanhedrin was a very powerful legislative and judicial body in the Jewish community. It was the center of power in an ancient Jewish theocracy.

This "Sanhedrin" seems to be a handful of well meaning but slightly eccentric rabbis, nothing more or less.

David Ketter said...

Never heard Adin Steinsalz called "eccentric" before. Very scholarly edition of Talmud that I've heard from my [Christian] professors. *shrug* To each their own, I suppose.

jewish philosopher said...

Steinsalz is OK, but actually little used by Talmudic scholars. If you're looking for a top notch modern commentary, see the Artscroll/Mesorah edition.

CrypticLife said...

Do you feel bad about using a stolen image?

Uriel said...

Thou shalt not steal... unless it's from an atheist.

Uriel said...

JP,

Please give credit to the creator of that image, and consider apologizing for using it without permission. Or at least TRY to refute that you stole it.

Joshua said...

The claim that "ultra-Orthodoxy" was what Judaism was before the Reform movement showed up is simply not accurate. Many strains of ultra-Orthodoxy are much stricter than what was classically practiced. The most obvious example is the use of Rabainnu Tam's opinion for calculating when Shabbat ends. This was almost non-existent prior to about 1900. And that opinion also gives a much later start time for Shabbat, but no one who holds by that shita today starts Shabbat late. And don't get me started on how recent ultra-Orthodox standards of dress and sniut are.

Modern Orthodoxy is as different from Judaism in 1400 as ultra-Orthodoxy is ultra-Orthodoxy is from Judaism in 1400.

jewish philosopher said...

Modern Orthodoxy is clearly just a blending of Reform and Orthodox.

Joshua said...

Repeating a claim again doesn't make it more true.

jewish philosopher said...

Modern Orthodoxy, like Reform and Conservative, is just an attempt to make Judaism easier.