Friday, January 01, 2010

The Eternal Jew


[detail from the Arch of Titus]

Mark Twain wrote in an essay entitled "Concerning the Jews", published 1898:

If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded into dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

The reason why the Jews are eternal is quite simple in my opinion: the truth cannot be suppressed completely. There will always be some people prepared to sacrifice everything they have for the truth. Those people are called "Jews".

What's interesting is that number of Jews seems to be fairly constant throughout history. According to some estimates The Jewish population has, from the time of the Exodus, been pretty consistently between one and five million. The number of observant Jews today is estimated to be about two million. While the world population as a whole has increased over 100 times, from about 50 million 3,000 years ago to 6.7 billion today, we Orthodox Jews have chugged along at a fairly constant size. Persecutions come and go, empires rise and fall, apostates leave, converts join, however we just keep going along at our own, fairly constant speed. It is as if God has rationed out the number of righteous people and plants a certain number in each generation.

53 comments:

Anon1 said...

Why do you make a distinction between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews with regards to population?
You also seem to imply that Orthodox Jews are all righteous. This simply isn't true

jewish philosopher said...

A nonobservant Jew is almost self contadictory. What exactly makes him Jewish?

Many othodox are righteous.

Anon1 said...

The fact that his mother is Jewish makes him a part of the Jewish population

Many non-orthodox, non-jews are also righteous. there is also a good number of orthodox Jews who are not righteous

Joely276 said...

Orthodox are FAR from righteous!!! JP I would be embarrassed that we don't grow at all especially since you have such a high birth rate?

JP what do you say to the Haraidy guy that killed his daughter in Israel. was he also a secret atheist.

jewish philosopher said...

In this post I'm using "Jew" to mean someone observant of Judaism and "righteous" meaning someone conforming to God's will.

Generally, we're not bad.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/orthodox-jewish-crime.html

The only Orthodox Jew currently serving a prison sentence for murder is Yigal Amir, to the best of my knowledge.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yigal_Amir

Anon1 said...

JP-so in Yad Va'Shem, they have a dedicated to the "righteous among the nations." are these people not righteous?

Maybe that is true, I do not know, so I will take your word for it. However, there are many Jews in prison for money laundering, embezzlement, etc. Is that according to God's will??

Joely276 said...

And there is a rabbi in NY. and We can find many more.

and as I mentioned A charaidy guy was arrested yesterday for MURDER.

http://www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3828224,00.html

Anonymous said...

Joely276:

What is your basis for saying OJ's are far from righteous? What standards do you use, and what is your basis for picking those standards? And what is your basis for believing that righteouness even exists? I'm just curious.

Now, when someone says like atheists are mass murderers, you get all upset and throw a fit and say it is unfair to generalize. Now you ae guilty of the very same offense. (And there were a lot more atheistic mass murderers than OJ mass murderers. In fact you have eto go back to biblical times to find an OJ mass murderer. And you believe that the Bible is ahistorical so even those don't count.)

Nathan

Anonymous said...

Anon1:

How many is "many?" Currently 1%pf the population of the United States is servingn time for various crimes. if the crime rate among OJ's was the same, then we would expect to see thousands of OJ's in prison. I really don't think it is that many. I did read a few years ago that 70 people serving time in New York State requested kosher food. That's not very "many."

jewish philosopher said...

"the "righteous among the nations." are these people not righteous?"

Gentiles who observe the Seven Noahide Commandments are righteous.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah

"there are many Jews in prison for money laundering, embezzlement, etc. Is that according to God's will??"

No, who said it was?

"And there is a rabbi in NY. and We can find many more."

Names, please?

"A charaidy guy was arrested yesterday for MURDER."

It sounds like he'll walk on an insanity plea.

Anon1 said...

My point is not all OJs are righteous, as your post seems to imply.
I still feel that anybody who is moral should be considered righteous.
I also just realized that if God "rationed out the number of righteous people" that means that these people do not have free will

jewish philosopher said...

"My point is not all OJs are righteous"

Well, we have Hasidic Rebels and what not, but many are.

"anybody who is moral should be considered righteous"

You'll have to define moral. Many people consider Osama bin Laden to be moral.

"I also just realized that if God "rationed out the number of righteous people" that means that these people do not have free will"

He exists outside of time and is aware of past, present and future. He knows who will be good, but doesn't force them to be.

Anon2 said...

Just for clarity I would like to point out that "Anon1" of this post is not the same person as "Anon1" of previous posts. (although I am in agreement with this comments)

The original Anon1

jewish philosopher said...

I really wish people would choose unique names.

Shalmo said...

JP did you miss the following in the article you quoted:

"According to a 2002 study[4] by the Jewish Agency, "the number of Jews in the world is declining at an average of 50,000 per year." "

What are your thoughts on that?

Shalmo said...

JP this "proof" of orthodox judaism; that its true because Jews have survived despite all odds has been refuted a 1000 times over

Consider the basques. They have not only outlived the Jewish people, but have even better preserved their culture and heritage. Even though they have been far more persecuted than the Jewish people.

Does their survival make them special and a miracle?

What about natives of North America? 90% of natives were wiped by Europeans and they despite all odds have outlasted Jews and rebiult their civilization.

Does their survival make them a miracle as well?

jewish philosopher said...

"What are your thoughts on that?"

We have our ups and downs.

"Jews have survived despite all odds has been refuted a 1000 times over"

Name another religion which has survived several centuries of persecution, dispersal and exile and still exists today.

By the way, Shalmo, as a practicing Muslim why are you blogging and not building an underwear bomb?

Anonymous said...

Shalmo:

The Native American have not been persecuted for 2000 years, more like 500. And nobody is trying to exterminate the Native Americans now. Your co-religionists are still working hard to exterminate the Jews.

And it looks like very little is known about Basque history before Roman times.

Alex said...

"There will always be some people prepared to sacrifice everything they have for the truth. Those people are called "Jews"."

Now, JP, you obviously knew that people would challenge you on this, pointing out some Muslims or Xians who do the same thing. So why did you write it anyway?

jewish philosopher said...

I don't understand the question.

Other people may sacrifice themselves for a lie - whether Islam, Nazism, whatever. Those beliefs will come and go according to people's desires and wishful thinking.

The truth however is of course unique, constant and unchanging. Therefore Judaism never perishes.

Alex said...

Fine, it's a lie for the other religions, but they THINK it's the truth. And people like Larry will say that the same goes for Jews. Surely you anticipated that, right?

And is there a rule that says that the truth will always win out? Doesn't Sotah 49b say that in the age before Moshiach, truth will fail?

Bryce said...

"The only Orthodox Jew currently serving a prison sentence for murder is Yigal Amir, to the best of my knowledge."

You've been avoiding doing the frightening research, so you should really say, "to the best of my limited knowledge."

Alex said...

Fine, the people in the other religions sacrifice for a lie -- but surely you expected people like Larry Tanner to start up with: "but so do the Jews." Didn't you? You want to go through that again?

And besides, who says that the truth won't perish? Doesn't Sotah 49b say that in the days before Moshiach, "truth will fail"?

Maybe this blog is a perfect indicator that Moshiach is on his way.

jewish philosopher said...

"You've been avoiding doing the frightening research"

I'm happy to let you handle it.

"the people in the other religions sacrifice for a lie"

I'm not writing that if people sacrificed for something it must be true.

I am suggesting that reason why the Jews have uniquely persisted through thousands of years of exile, dispersion and persecution is because Judaism is true and there will always be some honest people willing to sacrifice for the truth.

"who says that the truth won't perish?"

Isaiah.

And as for Me, this is My covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.

Isaiah 59:21

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1059.htm#21

Anonymous said...

"There will always be some people prepared to sacrifice everything they have for the truth. Those people are called "Jews"."

No, they are called "atheists."

jewish philosopher said...

That's a beautiful little tidbit of baloney.

Name one atheist who died rather than deny Darwin. Of course no atheist would sacrifice anything for his beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Dying for a belief doesn't make that belief true. Being willing to sacrifice your life, your family, your livelihood and your happiness is pathetic and foolish, but especially since you cannot confirm the existence of your desert sky-psycho. Your martyr complex is noted and laughed at.

Atheists endure the unceasing lies and hatred of "loving" religious fanatics. One big lie is the "denial of Darwin" meme. Darwin was a scientist whose ideas on biology have proven true often. His work helped others build to later discoveries and advances. "Denying Darwin" means nothing. Darwin is not worshiped. He is not venerated.

Anon2 said...

"Of course no atheist would sacrifice anything for his beliefs."

Totally Wrong. Non-religious people die for their beliefs all of the time--like soldiers when fighting for their country, etc. Or when humanitarian activists volunteer in dangerous regions of the world and often are injured or killed.

What atheists don't believe in is risking their neck for somebody else's imagined diety. Die for humanity, yes. But not for a "sky psycho" (great name anonymous!)

jewish philosopher said...

"Dying for a belief doesn't make that belief true."

No one said it did. Straw man argument.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

"you cannot confirm the existence of your desert sky-psycho"

Sure I can.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

And incidentally the appeal to ridicule is also a logical fallacy.

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-ridicule.html

"Atheists endure the unceasing lies and hatred of "loving" religious fanatics."

In modern times, atheists are not oppressed or persecuted in any way, except in Islamic countries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination_against_atheists#Modern_era

"Darwin was a scientist whose ideas on biology have proven true often."

Darwin was an amateur naturalist who wrote a stupid little book of atheistic propaganda.

"His work helped others build to later discoveries and advances."

His work created Fascism.

http://www.darwintohitler.com/

"Darwin is not worshiped. He is not venerated."

Nor should he be.

jewish philosopher said...

"Non-religious people die for their beliefs all of the time"

They may die for their country, their family or to save their comic book collection, however they will never die rather than deny Darwin.

Anon2 said...

"however they will never die rather than deny Darwin."

So? That's a meaningless point. Like saying "Jews would never die for cholent." There would never be a need to, since evolutionary science does not require unquestioning subservience to anybody, let alone Darwin. Only inventors of a sky psycho god could come up with such a thing.

My point of course was to rebut your inference that atheists are spineless and not willing to sacrifice for anything. Many are just as committed to their ideals as you claim to be.

Alex said...

Me: "who says that the truth won't perish?"

you: "Isaiah."

And the tractate Sotah statement gets tossed in the dustbin??

jewish philosopher said...

"That's a meaningless point."

At Monday, January 04, 2010 11:31:00 AM, Anonymous said that atheists are prepared to sacrifice everything they have for the truth. We now all agree that that's nonsense.

"My point of course was to rebut your inference that atheists are spineless and not willing to sacrifice for anything."

That's an interesting point. I would tend to think that actually they are spineless.

I would be curious to know, has any open atheist ever been awarded the Medal of Honor
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medal_of_Honor
or been commemorated as one of the "Righteous among the Nations"?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Righteous_among_the_Nations


"tractate Sotah statement gets tossed in the dustbin??"

Sotah 49b states:
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE MESSIAH THE WISDOM OF THE LEARNED WILL DEGENERATE, FEARERS OF SIN WILL BE DESPISED, AND THE TRUTH WILL BE LACKING

http://www.come-and-hear.com/sotah/sotah_49.html#PARTb

This is implies that there will still be learned people and fearers of sin. So I don't think Sotah contradicts Isaiah.

Anonymous said...

Then we also agree it's complete nonsense to claim that Jews are prepared to sacrifice everything they have for the truth.

However, we can say that Atheists are right now the only ones fighting for truth against religion's well-funded forces of bigotry, intolerance, ignorance, and lies.

The Torah does not belong to you. We're taking it back.

Anonymous said...

Darwi wrote that he exected the more civilized nations to exterminate the less civilized nations. He also wrote that the less civilized, eg Africans and Europeans were closer to apes because of their keener sense of smell. So many Darwinists have told me that he wasn't really a racist, or even a bad person because when he wrote "exterminate" he didn't mean exterminate. They venerate Darwin so much that are willing to say word don't mean what they mean rather than admit any flaw in his character.

And Hitchins, Dawkins, Harris, etc. have made a lot of money by their atheism. What sacrifices have atheists ever made? I don't know of any. Now scientists who question Darwinism find that it negatively effects their careers.

jewish philosopher said...

"it's complete nonsense to claim that Jews are prepared to sacrifice everything they have for the truth"

We often do and have.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_Soviet_Union#Judaism

"we can say that Atheists are right now the only ones fighting for truth"

I can see that.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/rational-response-squad.html

Anon2 said...

I think that we have established the both religious and non-religious people are willing to make sacrifices for what they believe in, if required.

Now the question remains is, when religious people sacrifice their lives for god, was it worth it?

Perhaps if the Jews had happily assimilated, like the 10 lost tribes, the Jews themselves would have been better off.

jewish philosopher said...

"I think that we have established"

I think various anonymous people are just babbling nonsense.

Atheists believe that evolution is the truth and will sacrifice nothing for Darwin.

Jews believe Torah is true and have sacrificed for Torah.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Witches have been around just as long as the Jews. The Eternal Witch, I love it!

"Jews believe Torah is true and have sacrificed for Torah."

Therefore....?

jewish philosopher said...

So have brainless morons, however that doesn't really count as a religion.

Anonymous said...

It does if you mutilate the genitals of infants. Bonus points for getting a man (a 'rabbi') to put his mouth on the mutilated member.

I know, I know. You have a post on how wonderful genital mutilation is. It really makes people happier and have better sex lives. Yep, it sure does. It wards off HIV and looks better on film. Uh-huh. It improves brain functioning and has even been reported to give some super-powers.

Oh, sorry. Am I appealing to ridicule. Well, maybe if your beliefs were less ridiculous....

jewish philosopher said...

You know, your concern for Jewish penises is incredibly touching. However, no worries.

First of all the World Health Organization advocates circumcision.

http://www.who.int/hiv/mediacentre/news68/en/index.html

The American Academy of Pediatrics policy is that parents may circumcise the child if they wish to.

http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;103/3/686

If the world's leading medical professionals have no problem with me circumcising my son I'm sure you won't either, unless you just hate Judaism which is another story.

Just out of curiosity, why do you care anyway? If one tiny soulless bag of chemicals chops a piece or two off of another soulless bag of chemicals, what's the problem?

Anonymous said...

"Just out of curiosity, why do you care anyway? If one tiny soulless bag of chemicals chops a piece or two off of another soulless bag of chemicals, what's the problem?"

Total non-sequitur, thanks. You think that people are 'tiny soulless bag of chemicals.' Fine. But what on earth does that have to do with rules of conduct in a society?

jewish philosopher said...

"You think that people are 'tiny soulless bag of chemicals.'"

If we merely evolved from chemicals by Darwinian evolution, then we are.

"what on earth does that have to do with rules of conduct in a society?"

Everything. A rational person will treat a plastic garbage bag filled with dirty water differently than he would treat a being created in the image of God.

Anonymous said...

"A rational person will treat a plastic garbage bag filled with dirty water differently than he would treat a being created in the image of God."

I disagree. If all humans are beings "created in the image of God," then we can come up with several examples every day of the pious-devout abusing and mistreating others. It doesn't seem like the idea of being created in God's image has any effect at all.

jewish philosopher said...

Sure it does.
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/orthodox-jewish-crime.html

While atheists like Stalin and Mao were, expectably, history's biggest killers.

Anonymous said...

Anon2:

Where is it established that atheists will make sacrifices for their beliefs?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

the usual understnadingof being created in God's image is that humans have free will. So a pious person choosing to do a bad thing is no contradiction to the concept.

Bryce said...

JP: "The only Orthodox Jew currently serving a prison sentence for murder is Yigal Amir, to the best of my knowledge."

ME: You've been avoiding doing the frightening research, so you should really say, "to the best of my limited knowledge."

JP: "I'm happy to let you handle it."

You'll never internalize the severity (don't worry, the percentage is still less than the rest of the population) of the problem unless you do the research yourself.

jewish philosopher said...

Don't worry, I'm great at internalizing. Just give me the summary Bryce, like a name for instance.

Anonymous said...

The logical fallacy is the comparison between a race (jews) and historical nations.

The races that made up Persia and Rome are still here, we just don't refer to them as Persians or Romans.

jewish philosopher said...

Jews are not a race, as I explained here.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/07/are-jews-race.html