The More Jews the Better?

Some rabbis & Jewish leaders want to return to ancient Judaism's universalistic mission--making it more available to outsiders.


08/07/2010 05:37:30 AM

The reason Jews do not convert others , probably, has more to do with the fear that the majority religions would kill Jews. When the Catholic Church was powerful in Europe and had an army, it was as dangerous to attempt to discuss Judaism to a nonJew as it would now be in a Muslim country to discuss any other religion. This is the sort of thing that becomes custom over generations. Now that it is not dangerous in the USA, we should return to giving the option of Judiasm to our neighbors and friends. Many newer Christian religions come very close to Judaism in practice. Let these people come all the way if they wish.


08/06/2010 11:46:31 AM

I am truly honored to be considered because with out you and your ancestors I wouldn't be reading the torah, tanakh. You truly are a set apart people, the Jews and I remember what is also taught in the book of Revelation 3:9. Oh but how favored you are and I will always stand with and defend a Jewish person! ps I also wouldn't be reading the New Testament without you and your ancestors. I am grafted in as Romans 11:16,17 teaches. So thank-you and truly know you have honored me as well.


09/06/2004 11:52:08 AM

I appreciated Judaism because it was non-prostelyzing. They did their own thing and left Gentiles to do their own thing. Christianity and Islam was Judaism's prostelyzing heirs, demonizing Gentile religions, telling Gentiles that Gentile religions were inferior to Abrahamic faiths, and destroying them where ever they went. Ironically, the destruction of Gentile religions made the world less safe for Jews, as Gentiles were converted to the Jews' two ferociously competitive Abrahamic faiths. The safest world I think for Jews is a world where Gentiles are left alone to practice Gentile religions where Jews are not mentioned at all. Better to not be mentioned, than to be mentioned and hated. We don't need another Abrahamic religion doing the same prostelyzing thing to the remaining Gentile religious world.


07/08/2004 07:51:18 PM

Judaism is a foundation of both Islam and Christianity. One need not convert people who already believe in the Hebrew Prophets. What is stunning is that while Christianity and Islam have grown to over a billion people, Judaism still remains a religion of only 13 million. There are more Sikhs in the world then Jews. Go Figure!


06/30/2004 10:46:33 PM

How do missionaries work? They show how THEIR religon is better than YOURS. The weirdist thing I ever heard was how Protestants try to convert Roman Catholics. And they both believe in JC, for heavens sake! Thats in the USA and I bet they aren't converts for long! If Jews could come up with a sensible method of doing so I see nothing wrong with converting others. Perhaps with medical hospitals and schools where the people would benefit, such as Ethiopia or 3rd world nations where they could really use the help. The Western countries would be a hard sell.


06/28/2004 02:15:49 PM

Until the Jewish community starts accepting the legitimacy of actively reaching out to non-Jews with a view to conversion, we will continue wasting our time and energy obsessing about intermarriage and assimilation, instead of looking at what Judaism (whatever the numbers of its adherents may be) is FOR. Hillary and Bill Clinton are in a mixed marriage--she's Methodist, he's Baptist. Have we ever heard either the Methodists or the Baptists bemoaning the vanishing American Methodist/Baptist? No,of course not, because they quite reasonably expect to make up for their losses to other faiths in gains FROM other faiths. We could too, if we were willing to view our Jewishness as something valuable and worthwhile in itself, rather than, like a wooden leg, something we HAVE to live with, and might as well do a good job of it.


10/10/2002 12:04:32 PM

As a Catholic, I enjoy sud Judaim, in my study of many faiths, Judaism and Christianity are the only religion where I feel the Presence of G-d the most. Unfortunately, the people in these religions at times can be the most human when they should be most divine. Judaism has so much to offer in their spiritual knowledge and their practises for everyday living. Chrisianity has great teachings too, but to me, they are both the same, apart from the bad history. Perhaps, if Christians like myself learn about Judaism, they would see the beauty of the teachings of the torah, the mystery of the Sabbath and the spiritual high one feels at the reading of the Torah, the embrace among brethrens who are there, the prayers said in Hebrew, one get the feeling of History.


10/04/2002 06:24:20 PM

Should Jews proselytize? Yes! Yes! Yes! We did it for over 1500 years, until the Christians and Muslims made it punishable by death.


08/20/2002 05:19:09 PM

jkopanko: Here's your problem. You may be surprised, but it is the same problem as baruch.shm - you take the Torah literally, as if it were the God's word coming right out of God's mouth. So, when you quote it out of context and give references of Canaanite genocide, you are leaving out some keys facts. Fact One: There is no archaeological evidence of a Canaanite genocide by the Hebrews. In fact, evidence points to co-habitation of the land for several centuries. Historians and Archaeologists are more inclined to conclude that while wars may have been fought, what really occured the mixture and assimilation of the two cultures. Fact Two: The Five Books of Moses, commonly known as the "Written" Torah were actually passed down, from generation to generation, for nearly eight centuries. It is reasonable to consider the significant modification and editing that would have taken place during this long period until it was finally written down during the Babylonian exile.


08/20/2002 05:18:59 PM

To jkopanko: cont'd Fact Three: Judaism is a living, evolving religion that improves with age, provided it is allowed to continue to grow and evolve. baruch.shm's problem is that he wants to freeze it in the Middle Ages by claiming the Shulchan Aruch is God's word. You want to freeze it 3300 years ago when Moses established what was then a progressive systems of laws, which by today's standards, without the millenia of Jewish experience, modifications, and amendments would not be too impressive.


08/19/2002 07:03:37 PM

jp, Judaism and morality do not contradict at all. On the contrary, the Torah has had the most effect on modern thought and jurisprudence. You state that there is evil in the torah and I would challenge you to such a claim. Punishment sanctioned by a higher authoirty is not in of itself "evil". There is a mitzvah to kill Amalek because Amalek represents the evil in this world. In Judaism we are supposed to obliterate evilness from our midst. One classic example that our Sages present was the fact that Yitro had pity on the Egyptians and that this was a manifestation of the fact that he was not Jewish because if here were Jewish he would want to obliterate evil.


08/19/2002 01:55:32 PM

baruch_shm, "It is difficult to answer your comments because you quote no sources from Judaism literature or present any lucid position." To answer the first part of this, it is difficult for you to answer my comments, but for a different reason than you state: The difficulty lies in the dilemma you must face in defending evil in order to maintain the integrity of the positions you put forward. What you are doing therefore is avoidance--whatever face you seek to put on it (to safe your own). (continued below)


08/19/2002 01:55:00 PM

(continued from above) The second part: "you quote no sources of Judaism literature": PRECISELY: I am consciously breaking out of the circular arguements you have stated below. It is necessary to do this in addressing your comments, because you refuse to do so yourself. The third part--that I have presented no "lucid position". This is simply not factual. It is a result of your unwillingness to deal with the difficult position you find yourself in in reconciling the religious fundamentalist position you've laid out, with morality. (continued below)


08/19/2002 01:54:29 PM

(continued from above) "This is a Jewish board after all not a philosophical/general board." You seem to be inferring that there is no place in Judaism for ethics or morality(?) There are many who would disagree with you. If you wish to call any discussion of such things "illegitimate" unless it corresponds to your subjective interpretation of subjective texts, then so be it: You are the one who is walling yourself off, as a relic, from the mainstream and from objective reality... not me. Your refusal to address the biblical references which you called for and which I provided ("you quote no sources from Judaism literature"???) is very telling. And your dismissal is completely transparent. JK


08/15/2002 03:11:56 PM

jk, It is difficult to answer your comments because you quote no sources from Judaism literature or present any lucid position. This is a Jewish board after all not a philosophical/general board.


08/15/2002 03:10:02 PM

Baruch wrote: Furthermore, you don't even speak for "Torah observant" Jews, whatever that is. You only speak for yourself, thank G-d. You are giving Jews and bad name, and should refrain from you ethnocentric outrages before non-Jews, or Jews outside of the fray, get the wrong impression. Reply: THis should be a prototypical example of the self hatred that is rampant amongst diaspora Jewry. There mere fact that I disagree with Baruch about his interpretation of Torah is the reason I am a fundamentalist, ethnocentric and all these negative characteristics. If following torah is ethnocentric than I don't mind being labeled that despite the fact that I do come in touch with non-Jewish people and this is not the case. You cannot substantiate your opposition to my way of following torah by labeling it ethnocentric.


08/15/2002 09:41:24 AM

That is why the rishonim have preference to the achronim. I do not know what the obsession is with the shulchan aruch but this book is mostly codifying material from gemara. It is not like Karo z"l made up everything from nowhere. Lastly, I would like to say that there should be no hostility on discussing this topic, Read Vayikra, lo tisna et achicha bilvavecha. We will all build the beis hamikdash together, whether or not we practice Judaism or not.


08/15/2002 09:41:17 AM

Dear Baruch, First of all I would like to believe that we have reached a stage in America where we don't have to worry every second that we are being a shanda fur de goyim, an embarrassement for the goyim. If we argue about things then it is leshem shamayim and not because of a reaction of a third party. The very attitued to Judaism that is dictated by a third party is what has brought to the demise of a large portion of diaspora Jewry. As to halacha it is true that there are instances when the rabbonim said elu veelu, this and that are true. There was a system though to answer machlokesim (arguments) by giving deference to the more senior voice.


08/14/2002 10:54:54 AM

JK, thanks for the favor of your reply. Let me see how I should rephrase my question and I will get back to you soon.


08/14/2002 10:15:55 AM

To baruch shm: Finally, you never answered my question. If the "Torah" is the written Torah plus all of the Oral Tradition to include the Mishna, the Talmud, and the Shulchan Aruch, then why, oh why, were the Rabbis arguing over the laws for 9 centuries? If it is absolute and came straight from G-d at Mt. Sinai, then why the different opinions? why the clarifications? why the contradictions between Rabbis and between communities? How do you know they got it right? Did G-d tell you personally that Josef Caro got it right? You have a video tape of what went on at Sinai and Josef Caro watched it with you?


08/14/2002 10:11:34 AM

To baruch shm: Furthermore, you don't even speak for "Torah observant" Jews, whatever that is. You only speak for yourself, thank G-d. You are giving Jews and bad name, and should refrain from you ethnocentric outrages before non-Jews, or Jews outside of the fray, get the wrong impression.


08/14/2002 10:10:08 AM

ms, I'm not sure I'm clear what you're asking, but I'll try to reply: "Do you accept the concept of an Absolute Truth?" Yes, I accept "absolute truth", "objective truth", "universal truth"... however you wish to label it. You will understand however that I the idea of "Absolute Truth" as something that is context-dependent and subjective is not acceptible, logically or morally. (continued below)


08/14/2002 10:09:24 AM

(continued from above) "Can we agree that somethings are not a matter of "intolerance", but rather simply False?" Of course we can agree that "some things are not a matter of intolerance". Of course we can also agree that "some things are false". I fail to see how these two items are mutually exclusive, however, or to follow what you're trying to say. "Can we agree that somethings have no opposite?" I don't know how to answer that. (I'm not being evasive, I honestly don't know what you're intending here.) This probably depends on how you define "opposite". Is green the "opposite" of red? They're on the opposite side of the color wheel for, and in physical misture, they seem to neutralize each other. Yet in the context of mixing light, they don't act the same way. (continued below)


08/14/2002 10:08:45 AM

(continued from above) Moreover, both are different varieties of the same thing (color). Could "apples" and "oranges" be considered fundamentally opposing, as they are very closely related and within the same category of things (fruit)? "Men" and "women"? I would say that "opposite" is a concept that in practice we often use dependent upon context, perspective, and semantics. Because of that I'd be reluctant to make any blanket statements about "the existence of opposites", because it's almost impossible for anything I'd say (or you would say) to not be received in subjective terms, and judged by different standards than was intended. Hope this is helpful(?), JK


08/14/2002 10:05:53 AM

jkopanko: As usual, I agree with you. barch shm: Haven't you let this to rest yet? I thought I had silenced you last week. What happened to Job, at the end of the book, when face to face with the Almigthy? When faced with matters of the life and the universe that he just couldn't understand? He was silent. It seems to me that fundamentalist like yourself, simply cannot bare the fact that there are things in life and things about this world that you just don't have an answer for and you can't accept it. So, you take the Torah and accept it all literally and speak with the authority of G-d, as if you were G-d or as if you spoke for HIM. Well, you don't. Sorry. You are dust just as I am. The different between us, it that I have accepted that and I have chosen to live as a mortal who will never have all of the answers. Only Hashem does.


08/13/2002 06:35:16 PM

Do you accept the concept of an Absolute Truth? Can we agree that somethings are not a matter of "intolerance", but rather simply False? Can we agree that somethings have no opposite?


08/12/2002 12:09:06 PM

Baruch_shm, I dislike "name the verse" but am doing this merely to put this to rest... I take for granted that you are already familiar enough with these areas, and find it really unnecessary to have to do this: (I don't know if you recognize this numbering system, please pardon any inconvenience) Kill any non-celibate gay man: Leviticus 20:13 Genocide: Numbers 31:1-18 Numbers 21:33-35 Exodus 12:29-30 Deuteronomy 2:26-35 Deuteronomy 2:21-24 "Genocide without REASON"??? It is mind-boggling that you do not appreciate how deplorable that very phrase is. As you yourself demonstrate, without objective standards, there is truly "reason" ot be given to ANYTHING. You are willing to give "reason" for the genoside of others?! You have thereby given others "reason" to defend the genocide against you. (continued below)


08/12/2002 12:08:53 PM

(continued from above) The basic unwillingness to universally condemn GENOCIDE is an illustration of the potential evil of the extreme subjectivity of the religious system you would lay out. "Since Hashem gave us torah and all of the ways of hashem are just than the torah by definition is the most just way of life possible. " You are well-aware that this is a completely unacceptible cop-out. Secondly you co-exist in a world filled with other religions: ANY OTHER RELIGION MIGHT MAKE A SIMILAR CLAIM justifying ANYTHING: Such as that it is virtuous for them to kill you. By denying objective standards, you completely forfeit your moral authority to challenge the rest of the world to Justice and morality.


08/12/2002 11:32:25 AM

Since Hashem gave us torah and all of the ways of hashem are just than the torah by definition is the most just way of life possible.


08/12/2002 11:30:43 AM

There is no injunction to kill gay people in the torah! There is actually no problem with being gay at all. This is a nisayon, a test, from G-d rather. The problem is with the act itself. If people succumb to their evil inclination than they are going to violate many aspects of torah. Where is there genocide in the torah without reason? Please give examples to back this up.


08/12/2002 11:14:24 AM

Baruch_shm, "There is no element of injustice in the Torah." This is simply false: The injunction to kill gay people is injustice. The killing of the first-born of an entire nation is injustice. Genocide is injustice. (Please feel free to disagree.) Furthermore, this statement in itself perfectly illustrates my point about the lack of an objective self-critique. Secular Life Doesn't Come Close--Torah Better: "The lesser of two evils" really is not acceptible. The striving should be for complete justice and morality, not for the system with the fewest loopholes. And the point is, YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM to strive for the highest standard: This being the case, it is neither a commendation to you, nor to the torah, that you would need to make excuses for its shortcomings rather than stepping forward to a higher standard WHERE AVAILABLE. (continued below)


08/12/2002 11:14:13 AM

(continued from above) "For you to say that following torah religiously is not objectively acceptable seems to be an authoritarian view that denies people from choosing their own path." Actually the opposite is true. You are upholidng the torah as a tyranny upon jewish people. You are admitting no opportunity for righteous deviation of conscience. How is this anything but authoritarian? I make no statement that you must or should not follow the torah. I fullly acknowledge the virtues that it has brought. I only state that INJUSTICE SHOULD NOT BE EXCUSED, OR DEFENDED. If this statement is authoritarian, than I will gladly accept that label. Otherwise, I will not.


08/11/2002 03:15:54 PM

For you to say that following torah religiously is not objectively acceptable seems to be an authoritarian view that denies people from choosing their own path. The contrary is true, following Torah has been proven to bring more peace and morality to the world. Judaism being the foundation of all the other monotheistic religion I find it suprising that you make that statement.


08/11/2002 03:09:27 PM

There is no element of injustice in the Torah. All the ways of Torah of completely just so your comment about observing torah being contradictory to morality seems pretty distorted to me. By the way I have been exposed to secular philosophy and way of life and I can tell you whole heartedly that it does not even come close to the degree of morality and modesty that is present in the religious world.


08/11/2002 03:05:27 PM

jk, Your post seems to defy any logical reasoning. The simple equation is that I see us as being bound by the mitzvot and therefore I am obviously going to see them as strictly binding regardless of my own personal "gut-feelings" or grudges.


08/11/2002 03:02:39 PM

jkopanka, The torah does tell us to employ self introspection but if you are implying that it should include violating torah than that is not permitted. The torah is not just a book of morals and ethics. It is a book in which we establish our connection to a higher authority, as difficult as that is. I fit was only a book of morals and ethics than why do we have such provisions such as not being able to eat cheeseburgers or not mixing wool and cotton?


08/11/2002 11:47:56 AM

You seem to be saying "I will perform an action, without regard to morality or immorality, as long as it is proscribed by the torah." Regardless of what justifications might be put forward for this, or what history of relatively successful tradition may underlie it, it is simply not objectively acceptible. Furthermore the position of developing intricately-constructing rationalisms after-the-fact to back up pre-existing injunctions--combined with a complete refusal to be stretched beyond their limits--necessarily results in complete subjectivity.


08/11/2002 11:28:59 AM

baruch_shm, I completeley see the legitimacy of what you've said. However you're really talking past the point I've been getting at. I'm not talking about Judaism and the torah from the reference point of the torah. I'm talking from the reference point of humanity and ethics. While please understand that I in no way intend to question your own committment to these things, I find your lack of objective self-critique (that is, the lack of ojecctive self-critique of the brand of Judaism you would lay out) troubling. Again, please understand as well that this is not a comment singling out Judaism... this just happens to be the focus of this particular discussion. I would equally be (and am) no less troubled by a lack of objective self-critique from any other religion. JK


08/10/2002 11:47:19 PM

Judaism has indeed evolved but it evolves in a certain system. Everything in life evolves in a certain system. It is unthinkable that Judaism would condone violations of torah in the name of evolution. Evolution is the consistent interpretation of halacha that builds a fence around torah. The rabbis who paskened on torah did not do so to reduce observance but rather to fit the same devotion to meticulous observance of mitzvot to our age.


08/09/2002 10:32:02 PM

Baruch_shm, I have not comment on the post about non-halachic judaism. Where you're going into here isn't relevant to anything I'd comment on. (Please don't misunderstand: that's not a judgement or criticism, its just a statement.)


08/09/2002 10:25:43 PM

Baruch_shm, "If every type of Judaism and reform would be acceptable than according to that logic why would people find Jews for JC morally repugnant?" Baruch, I didn't suggest that every type of Judaism and reform should be acceptible. What I suggested in that area is merely that reform and evolution HAS INDEED been a part of Judaism before the 19th century.


08/09/2002 10:18:06 PM

baruch_shm, "To say that torah-observant Jews are extremely insular is a misconception/stereotype that does not hold water." I didn't say anything characterizing "torah-observant Jews" positively or negatively. Neither did I bring up a stereotype to avoid addressing you directly. On the contrary: I very specifically characterized YOUR SPECIFIC STATEMENTS HERE. And I did so not as a comment on any group, but as a comment on WHAT YOU HAVE SAID. Baruch_shm: I'm talking to YOU. I'm not talking to "the Jews", "the Conservative Movement", "the Torah", etc. Regards, JK


08/09/2002 03:29:56 PM

ANY form of judaism that is non-halachic and does not promote the observance of mitzvos and precepts of torah has a shelf life of a generation or two. This is not a personal opinion but rather a pattern that has been PROVEN throughout the history of the Jewish people. People who try to deceive themselves into thinking that so called Jewish culture of "Sienfeld" and Yiddish theater will preserve Judaism are doing exactly that......deceiving themselves. Etz chaim hee lemachazim ba - The only thing that can preserve the Jewish nation is torah.


08/09/2002 02:32:01 PM

To say that torah-observant Jews are extremely insular is a misconception/stereotype that does not hold water. Judaism tells us that we should do everything to further science, peace and other important aspects of life. What we are talking about is more a function of self respect. A person's allegiance should be to his/her heritage and brethren first and then to other nations. The problem with modern day Jewry is that we are unfortunately in a state of exile so you have people like Woody Allen, Michael Lerner and their likes who think that they are demonstrating wisdom and bravery by denigrating and defaming anything to do with traditional Judaism. If I eat lunch out with a non-Jew then yes I WILL tell him that we should eat in a kosher restaurant. Yes I will not go to work on Tisha Baav and Sukkot. Is this insularity?


08/09/2002 02:25:42 PM

Do you not consider it a bit of an oversiplification to suggest that the idea of reform or evolution within Judaism has not existed until the 19th century? Second, how is extreme insularity--effectively translated as comparative apathy to humanity outside one's own tribal unit--objectively defensible? Well there has definitely been reform in Judaism but all reform takes a certain structure. If every type of Judaism and reform would be acceptable than according to that logic why would people find Jews for JC morally repugnant? Would Joe Leiberman be an example of someone who thinks ONLY of his own tribal unit? The truth is that Judaism does teach us to be concerned with the non-Jewish world. By studying torah and performing mitzvot we are actively helping the world sustain itself.


08/08/2002 11:45:06 PM

Baruch_shm, Do you not consider it a bit of an oversiplification to suggest that the idea of reform or evolution within Judaism has not existed until the 19th century? Second, how is extreme insularity--effectively translated as comparative apathy to humanity outside one's own tribal unit--objectively defensible?


08/08/2002 03:43:56 PM

Who is the seperatist? Well that question can be answered easily. Before the haskalah, there was no such thing as reform or conservative. All of our ancestors from before that period were torah observant according to codified halacha. In the 19th century there were Jews who established these movements for the sole purpose of being able to assimilate into mainstream society. The alternative would be to remain from within and try to change halacha from the halachic system. These movements opted to do so and this is the course of history.


08/08/2002 03:40:14 PM

To the issue of the conversion, I have said repeatedly that Jewish philantropy should invest first and foremost on inreach. Remember that till people convert there is still an OBLIGATION to first save the soul of your brethren. Only after that obstacle would be dealt with would we be able to discuss the future of Jewish conversions. But for movements to ,out of the blue, experiment with these adventurous policies of mass conversion is unprofessional. This is a slap in the face to Jewish unity. These movements know very well that at this stage in history the halacha cannot accept these conversion yet they do so regardless because of a sense of pioneering.


08/08/2002 01:45:04 PM

Baruch shm, "What I deplore is this seperatist attitude of movements that depart farther and farther away from unity without first consulting itnernally." Who is to define who is the "separatist"? Do you define some brand of Orthodox as the rock-solid standard from which deviation is the "separatism"? Isn't it a little disingenuous to do this? All insitutions Judaism included evolve over time according to the times, the internal and external climate, the larger societal context, and so on. Is really meaningful to select a faction that's most isolated-in-time as an assumed standard from which any deviation or "separatism" is to be measured? JK


08/08/2002 01:35:16 PM

baruch shm, Who do you think comprise these hordes who are straining at the bit to convert to Judaism flippantly, or with the clandestine intention of subverting it? And who do you think (from ANY branch of Judaism) is going to stand ready to convert them knowing this?


08/07/2002 09:39:13 AM

baruch shm, I'm saying that Judaism in its roots, is fundamentally PRO-Conversion going all the way back to Avraham. AND, prior to pressure from exteranl forces (Christian Rome) there were no big barriers against it. Hence, the Orthodox view today is a reflection of the a negative approach forced upon Jews over 1500 years ago. What other strains of Judaism are doing is making a correct back to the original view - a more open, univeral one. Shalom Aleichem.


08/06/2002 09:32:00 PM

it looks like you are saying that there is no such thing as conversion to Judaism. People can convert to Judaism but they have to know what they are converting to. The biggest chilul hashem is when people convert just for the sake of marriage. Remember that someone is converting to a religion...that means that the individual has to adopt the religion. A classic example of such bogus conversion was with the Samaritans who were not permitted to convert because it was obvious that they had an ulterior motive for converting instead of a pure intention to convert to the religion. Conversion is fine but it has to be for pure reasons.


08/06/2002 04:37:38 PM

You justify your position by citing the "rythm of the Torah". Now, that's something new! I'm sure the Christian and Muslims could read the Torah and find a "rythm", too. Read the Torah yourself. I already gave your passages supporting conversion - the souls that Avraham made, the numerous reference in the Mitzvot to the "Ger" living among you, the masses that left Mitzraim with Moshe, Ruth, and so on. The wording, as opposed to the rythm, of the TANACH is pro-conversion. The examples are too numerous to cite here! However, I defy you to give me one passage in the Torah, Prophets, or Writings that is anti-Conversion. Just one. You can't!


08/06/2002 04:24:59 PM

The problem I have is primarily with Baruch and jwr's paradigm. For the sake of the argument lets assume that it would be logical for jews to convert gentiles. Such a landmark decision and the logistics in order to implement it would have to be reached internally with the unity of klal yisrael. What I deplore is this seperatist attitude of movements that depart farther and farther away from unity without first consulting itnernally. The emphasis here is the fact that these decisions would have to be reached internally. A classic example of the way it would not be reached is the way the reform movement adopted patrilineal descent without the consent of the two other movements Conservative and orthodox ( i have already mentioned that i do not believe in the validity of different movements but this is for the sake of the argument).


08/06/2002 04:14:58 PM

Now, to your points: Study of Torah is more important than deeds? Not really. We study Torah so that they will lead to deeds. It says in Pirke Avot, " Anyone whose good deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom will endure; but anyone whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds, his wisdom will not endure" (3:11) The study of Torah maintains the earth? Where did you read that one? Midrash? Just curious, how did the world hold together before the revelation at Sinai?


08/06/2002 03:41:58 PM

I have a question for you actually - what do you think should be the priority of the Jewish community - to do inreach or outreach? After all we do have about 1.5 million halachic Jews who are practicing other religions. Don't you think that we should invest our resources in helping them out?


08/06/2002 03:39:44 PM

Baruch, I also agree 100 percent that we have to spread the world with our mitzvot and show acts of good kindedness. The issue is whether this would include conversion or not and I would say that proselytizing is anti-thetical to judaism. A great amount of violence has been directed towards Jews when they did proselytize. Ki hashem bacharcanu mekol hamim venatata lanu et toraso. Hashem offered the other nations torah and powers of prophecy and they gave back to him with bilaam and nebuchadnzer. THe whole rythm of torah is that we were chosen and given different neshomas. We should be kind to the other nations and explain to them who G-d is but not convert him. If you have a pasuk that says otherwise I would be happy to see it.


08/06/2002 03:25:37 PM

baruch shm, Ok, baruch, this is really stooping a little to low for me at this point. But, I respond once more. First, who said anything about handing out pamphlets??? We are talking about ACTS OF LOVINGKINDNESS! You need to be more serious and more accurate in your characterizations of the points you are refuting, or you are not worthy of an "argument for the sake of heaven". You are just arguing to win, it appears. If so, that is shameful.


08/06/2002 03:17:57 PM

There is a concept in judaism that the world is sustained through torah study. By studying the torah we are actively helping the wholw world sustain itself. This is much more helpful for the world spiritually than going around handing out pamphlets. Talmud torah ceneged kulam" is the biggest mitzvah.


08/06/2002 03:11:14 PM

baruch shm, Is that all it is, just a test? Is that all Hashem did with Avraham, simply test his faith? There was no higher purpose? We have only Chukat to test our faith and that's the end of the road? Or, maybe Hashem is preparing us for what is really important - acts of loving kindness, compassion, caring for the sick, charity, love? Sorry, but I give G-d more credit than you do. I don't believe that He is so shallow.


08/06/2002 03:08:07 PM

baruch shm, You really have no idea that the Oral Law you claim was referred to in the Torah (posted by you earlier, but the chapter/verse not provided) is one and the same with what Judah Ha Nasi wrote 1400 years later. You really don't. Have you ever played "whisper down the lane". Imagine it over 14 centuries!


08/06/2002 03:07:37 PM

Actually the mitzvot that we DONT understand are the ones that test are true faith of G-d. The mitzvot that dont have explanations like kashrut and shatnez are the ones that test our true faith in G-d and his torah.


08/06/2002 03:03:40 PM

Baruch, I never said that they are the same document. What I said is that both of them are binding and are from G-d. This doesn't adress the fact that the information I am talking about and the issue we are talking about is from the TANACH.


08/06/2002 02:59:38 PM

But, observing the Ritual Mitzvot is only half of it. Don't forget the higher Mitzvot - Mercy, Justice, Compassion, Charity. If all you do in huddle in your small circle and snear at the other Jews who don't observe the Ritual Mitzvot, but you don't also, and more importantly, practice the Mitzvot of Love and Compassion, then you are wasting your time. Hashem, it most likely, not impressed. As it says in Micah: "With what shall I approach Hashem?...Will Hashem find favor in thousands of rams, in tens of thousands of streams of oil?...He has told you, O man, what is good, and what Hashem seeks from you: only the performance of justice, the love of kindness, and walking humbly with your G-d." (Micah 6:6-8)


08/06/2002 02:59:31 PM

baruch shm: As for Mitzvot, I belong to a Conservative Shul. In reference to the "basic" Mitzvot you mentioned, I keep kosher, do Tifillin, wear Tzit-tzit, and observe Shabbat. In fact, there are more families at our Convervative Congregation that keep kosher than there were at the Chabad Shul I used to belong to!


08/06/2002 02:55:15 PM

kil lo yintosh hashem amo venahalato lo taazov (psalm 94:14). Hashem well never abandon am yisrael.


08/06/2002 02:52:46 PM

baruch shm: You keep equating the Talmud and the Torah as one and the same document. They are not. There is simply nothing else to discuss on the matter if you can't see that.


08/06/2002 02:35:40 PM

baruch, When you claim that the talmud is not the word of G-d than I definitely have a problem with that. One of the thirteen principles of the rambam is that if you deny one letter of torah than you deny the whole torah. The problem is that most Jews who follow the reform movement( and this is based on the census) do not even follo would mitzvos d'oreisa like shabbat, keeping kosher, and the other basic mitzvos. I am not talking about shatnez and eruvin that is from rabbanan. Then people are so suprised that people abandon their heritage. If their heritage is reduced to one maxim of tikun olam then it becomes similar to Christianity - it is not a book based heritage.


08/06/2002 02:31:10 PM

jrw, I do not dispute the fact that there were Jews who rejected rabbinic judaism, whether karaites, followers of shabtai tzvi and saducees. The issue is that these movements dissappeared and the Jews continued to exist.


08/06/2002 02:29:53 PM

jrw, I did not specifically call you or Baruch people who go to schul once a year. I was talking about the majority of American Jews according to a survey conducted by the UJA. The problm with like the reform movement is that like any institution it has to perpetuate itself by staying alive and adding membership. This institutional behavior is what is bringing to the demise of the Jews who follow this movement. If the reform movement wanted to change halachos then they would have to first consult klal yisrael instead of just creating another movement.


08/06/2002 02:25:05 PM

To: All non-Jews Please understand that burach shmuelovitz does NOT speak for the vast majority of the Jews in the world. The Orthodox in the U.S. are less than 10% of the Jewish population and are also a minority, thank G-d, in Israel. And, furthermore, he does not speak for all Orthodox Jews, for that matter. The vast majority of Jews in America - the largest Jewish population on earth - does NOT share the views of baruch shm. Instead, they believe in the higher mission of the Jews - to spread G-d's light to all people - and realize that only with the univeral acceptance of the one G-d will the all of humanity realize the Messianic Era. Our G-d is a loving and compassionate G-d who loves ALL people, since all people were made in His image and for His higher purpose.


08/06/2002 02:16:31 PM

As for your point about what it says in the Talmud about the Jewish soul, you may be misleading other readers as to just what the Talmud is. You quote the verses as if they are somehow the word of G-d, when in fact, any one who has studied Talumd, realizes that it is actually a collection of commentaries, often contradictory, over many centuries. These commentaries are the opinions of leading scholars on the Mishna, the Oral Law (written down 1400 years after Moshe by Judah Ha Nasi). So, pulling a verse from the Talmud (a volumous compilation of opinions, debates, and commentaries) and claiming it to be the word of G-d, to be totally honest, is a bit of a stretch.


08/06/2002 02:11:09 PM

baruch_shmuelovitz, No. You are referring equally to the Torah shel ba Peh when you refer to Torah. We understand Torah in other ways. The Jew's mission to be an ohr lagoyim does not necessarily preclude a non-Jew's sharing in that mission. A non-Jew may choose to cast God's light into the world out of love rather than out of obligation. Such a decision on the part of a non-Jew is hardly sinful. If you do not wish to be described as "narrow-minded" or as someone who "follows his rebbe," maybe you shouldn't refer to us as people who "go to shul once a year, intermarry, etc." We have presented historical evidence proving that Jewish identity has not been, in all times and places, what you claim it is. Again, if you have anything to refute Cohen, post it. Otherwise, please refrain from childish insults of all who do not interpret the Torah in the rather narrow way you do.


08/06/2002 01:55:59 PM

No, there is no contradiction whatsoever! The "nations" of the world were the object of the verse. Saying that there are "nations" and that these nations will learn of the one G-d and universally worship Him, and also accept the Torah are not mutually exclusive of one another.


08/06/2002 01:52:01 PM

jrw, If you want to use terminology from neusner, cohen, seltzer then why dont you talk about syncretism which is what will happen if we try to convert the world world. Eventually we will dissappear.


08/06/2002 01:50:23 PM

Baruch, Sometimes you prove my points just by attempting to refute mine. You claim that Jews have to be an "ohr lagoyim", a light unto the nations. Well how can jews be a light unto the nations if there is no nations because everyone converted to judaism? Do you detect an oxymoron in this reasoning? The appropriate pshat of this is that we have to teach other nations about G-d but not to uphold the 613 mitzvot and keep halachos and all other things that a yid has to do.


08/06/2002 01:46:47 PM

Ayways... the whole point I am trying to tell you is that halacha is interpreted in a certain way. Halacha is never just erased. The challenge of our big torah scholars is to face issues that bring torah and science together such as stem cell research and other halachic dillemas. When we pasken halachos for this we have to do it in a way that will maintain the integrity of torah. Torah and modernity do not contradict eath other


08/06/2002 01:46:42 PM

"Talmud tells us that losing a soul of a Jew is like losing the world." Well the difference between a Jew and a non-Jew is that the non-Jew has a nefesh but does not have a neshomah. I am suprised that someone who claims to read zohar or tanya for that matter would not know this. Judaism IS a universal religion which has a path for the Jew and the gentile. Lets also keep this at the level of polemics or debate and not try to get personal "ki achim anachnu." Also trying to depict me as someone who "follows his rebbe" and is "narrow-minded" is not compatible with who I really am and what education I have really received. .


08/06/2002 12:45:13 PM

To: baruch shm... You have become lost in time, frozen, unable to see the forest through the trees. You cannot know G-d's mind no more than you know what Moshe "said" to Joshua aside from what is in the Torah. 500 years from now, I wonder what people like you will say the "Torah" is? Whatever YOU say it is. But, you are not Hashem and you are not my judge, nor the judge of any Jew or Gentile. Hashem is my judge. Hashem alone. "Not in any man do I put trust, nor on any angel do I rely - only on the G-d of heaven Who is the G-d of truth..." You have no more idea of what whether what the Shulchan Aruch says is the same as what Moshe "said" 2000 years earlier any more than Christians know what Jesus, a man and a Jew, was resurrected. They really don't "know" and neither do you. So, like the Zohar says, I put my faith in G-d and no man, NO man.


08/06/2002 12:44:52 PM

To: baruch shm... The Reform Movement was a response to an Orthodoxy that became to entrenched in the Oral traditions piled upon by generation after generation and then freeze-dried into the Shulchan Aruch, that there had to be an "end around".


08/06/2002 12:33:53 PM

To: baruch shm... One more thing. Your postings reveal the problem. Your ethnocentric bias demonstrates quite well where we Jews, especially the Orthodox (since Conservative and Reform Jews have taken clear steps to address this), it changing, hence improving our world view to a more open, universal approach. Surely, Hashem is not an ethnocentric bigot. Your quote: "Talmud tells us that losing a soul of a Jew is like losing the world." Response: Why just a Jewish soul? Isn't the loss of any soul like losing a world? Your quote: "If they see this as a wound to their dignity and go back to worship yoshke that is their business." Response: That is Hashem's business! Thank G-d all Jews do not feel like you! I hope that the non-Jews reading this realize that you speak for yourself and a handful of narrowminded Orthodox Jews in your neighborhood and NOT for the Jewish people in general.


08/06/2002 12:32:29 PM

Jewish law is flexible but that flexibility does not NULLIFY key concepts in yiddishkiet like tzniut, shabbat and kashrut. The other movements that call themselves judaism have completely nullified these laws which are d'roita (from torah). Who EVER game the mandate to do this? The fact of the matter is that the only thing that has kept Jews together is the torah and shabbat and the whole purpose of the rabbis was to BUILD A FENCE AROUND THE TORAH when they sought flexibility not to make leniencies just so that people can go to shul once a year, intermarry, etc.


08/06/2002 12:21:04 PM

The posters here do not seem to understand how halachic decisions are made. Even if the rabbis thought that we should go out and convert the world they would codify this in a new responsa. The problem with the reform movement is that ever since its establishment it has been more of a reaction to the non-Jewish community than a movement that is in the interests of the Jewish people. The biggest piece of evidence for this isthe fact that all of a sudden there is a neotraditional "current" in reform judaism. They have not made any effort to interpret torah but just to nullify halacha after halacha afer halacha. Is it an interpretation of shabbat that we can violate ALL 39 malachas? Is it an interpretation of torah that Jews can intermarry and that we can have camcorders in shul ?!


08/06/2002 12:17:35 PM

Leaving the issue of oral law aside, the whole essence of am yisrael is to be an "am levadad yishkon", a nation that is different. We have a personal relationship with hashem just like a chasan and kallash(shir hashirim). To try to say that there is no difference between am yisrael and the non-Jews is to not understand the whole message and rythm of torah. ALL of torah is stories about bnei israel and how they differed from their surrounding nations. All of torah is about the relationship of hashem and jews.


08/06/2002 12:15:16 PM

When moshe rabeinu received torah from shamayim he was commanded to disseminate the kedusha of the CHUKIM and MISHPATIM. tHis pasuk clearly refers to the oral tradition. Rejecting the oral tradition is not only against torah but also against practical reasoning seeing all the religious that have dissappeared without an oral law, the 10 tribes being a classic example. Actually when we refer to the word "torah" we are equally referring to the torah shebaal peh.


08/06/2002 10:40:27 AM

To: baruch shm... cont'd Nonetheless, revered by the pious as one and the same with the Torah, via the S.A. they attempted to "freeze" Jewish Law. The deep freeze continues today by those like you who refuse to look from outside your narrow tunnel.


08/06/2002 10:40:08 AM

To: baruch shm... cont'd Here what makes much more sense. Jewish Law and Tradition have been flexible enough through the centuries to bend and not break, ensuring the survival of Judaism. However, with the advent of the printing press, something very happened - the Shulchan Aruch was published and circulated throughout the Jewish world. Isolated communities were desparate practices were brought into line, standardized under one code, one Halacha, one book. But, that book was not the Torah, it was the Shulchan Aruch. You may think it was handed down at Sinai, but all historal and practical observation says otherwise. Our own practices even at the time of its writing were different from one community to another. So, who is to say who really had the correct version, the same version as Moshe? Joseph Karo knew? Did he, like Moshe, confer personally with Hashem to resolve these difference? Hmmmm.


08/06/2002 10:27:18 AM

To: baruch shm... Again, jrw3800 says it so well! You honestly believe that the Shulchan Aruch and the Five Books of Moses (Torah) are one and the same book? Funny, why did it take over two thousands years to write it down? Or, could it be that the Oral tradition was really a process of synthesis over the ages that reflected the interpretation of Torah by the Jews at any given period? How is it that there are practices in the Shulchan Aruch that weren't practiced 1,000 years before it was written? If it all goes back to Moshe on Sinai, why has it changed? Why have you added to it? I do not reject the Oral Tradition, but what I and many other Jews to not accept is that the Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch were signed, sealed, and delivered at Sinai to Moshe from Hashem.


08/06/2002 10:11:55 AM

baruch_shmuelovitz, First of all, I do not reject the Torah. I simply reject your anachronistic, literalist way of understanding it. Second of all, I have provided concrete historical proof that something you claim was always forbidden was in fact permitted by rabbinical authorities in ancient times. If you can provide any counter-proofs, please do so. But don't assassinate my character simply because you have nothing more substantial to argue than "this has always been the mesorah because my rebbe says it is." Why, I would respond to you, should I accept the opinion of Rambam and Rashi over that of Cohen, when Cohen has shown that sages much earlier than Rambam and Rashi contradict them? After all, we're supposed to buy the whole "one generation further from Sinai" argument every time an Orthodox person doesn't want to permit any change in Jewish law or custom.


08/05/2002 10:08:46 PM

Another thing I don't understand is why inreach is not given the utmost priority. Talmud tells us that losing a soul of a Jew is like losing the world. We have a 58 percent intermarriage rate and Jews who don't know torah if you hit them with a sefer on the tuchus. Lets save our neshomas one at time bezrat hashem.


08/05/2002 10:07:24 PM

by the way... I think you got me wron also. I would definitely insist that if a non-Jew confront you and ask you about G-d you explain to him/her their role to play in Hashem's world. Being obligated by 7 mitzvot gives the non-Jews less obligations than we have to fulfill. If they see this as a wound to their dignity and go back to worship yoshke that is their business.


08/05/2002 10:04:34 PM

Lets even imagine that the rabbonim would want to convert non-Jews en masse. In order to reach that conclusion they would have to convene a special comittee of gedolei torah and discuss this crucial topic. They would not, like the reform movement, call torah obsolete and implement patrilineal descent. This is NOT the way decisions are made in klal yisrael.


08/05/2002 10:02:57 PM

baruch, You mention that Yoseph Karo (who is followed by sephardim by the way) came thousands of years after moshe. This shows a lack of understanding on how oral law works. By the way...even the heretical movements in judaism accept the shulchan aruch as a legitimate book in the line of the mesorah - oral law. It is just that in the 19th century they decided that the next step in the oral tradition was to assimilate, bring a new siddur, change customs and the national aspect of the jewish people. I would say that the LACK responsas and oral law would be showing the weakness of a heritage.


08/05/2002 09:58:52 PM

baruch, Without sounding arrogant or anything you prove my point with your own interpolations. ON the day that mashiach comes we will know him. But till then Devarim tells us that we will be few and scattered amongst the nations. Forget the talmud for a second which is 100 percent torah, your suggestion for proselytizing also breaks signs and prophecies in chumash. By the way I did not say that halacha has to do with it. The shulchan aruch is primarily a codification of the talmud. tHe talmud according to the mesorah was received first by Moses then handed down. So when you object to any precept in the talmud or shulchan aruch you are also going against moshe rabeinu. The domino effect in otherwards. By the way there is no concept in torah that tzedaka or pertains to teaching torah to non-Jews. Same with loshon hora. This is your own personal opinion which is not consistent with torah.


08/05/2002 07:45:00 PM

As I watch the debate unfold here on the board, I must suggest that you may both be right. It is probably not best to prostelyze until you agree to accept those you convert. If you cannot, than do not try to convice others that you walk in in God's path. I believe God to be the God of all people, with no favorites among them. Great resentment can result if one race or religious places themselves above the others. And even greater harm can come when you invite others in your house and then suggest that they are less than you. If history has shown that great harm has come as a result of prostelyzation by those of jewish faith, then perhaps it is because you speak with forked tongues. Don't extol the virtues of your faith to others if you know that converts will be shut out or "left in the outer circles". There is enough bitterness from just casual contact with arrogance: intimate contact burns in the soul and festers a hatred that is hard, even for the most passive soul, to extinguish.


08/05/2002 06:17:39 PM

to baruch shm..cont'd: One more thing, it says that "on that day", the day of the Mashaich, all people of the world will bend their knee to the One true G-d and His name shall be One. What does Halacha have to do with this? Hashem does not need more laws legislated to spread His name and His light. He only needs us to opened up and to share. What greater Tzadakah is there than to give someone the words of the Torah? Jew or non-Jew!


08/05/2002 06:13:05 PM

to baruch shm Cont'd: As for what you and the Orthodox call yourselves - "Torah Observant" Jews - I have a different interpretation. You are not necessarilly Torah Observant, what in fact you are is "Shulchan Aruch" Observant - a book that was written in 1555 by Joseph Caro (1488 - 1575 CE), some 2800 years after Moshe! In last weeks Torah Parsha there was a great verse which commands us not to "add to or substract from" the Torah. While the Reform (and the Christians) may have substracted from the Torah, I dare say after a review of the Shulchan Aruch, you have most certainly added to it.


08/05/2002 06:12:47 PM

To: baruch shm... It was started in the Roman World in 313 CE when conversion to Judaism was declared punishable by death - the Muslims just continued to reinforce it in the minds of Jews when they came to power. 313 CE is certainly during the first half of the Talmudic Period. Also, you state that Orthodox Conversion is "al pi halacha vedat moshe". Yet, no where in the Torah does it state how his own wife and sons ever, if they did at all, went through a formal conversion. The same goes for the "souls that he (Avaraham) made" when Avraham left for Canaan from Charan. The same goes for King David's Great Grandmother - Ruth - as well. There is no formal process or pre-requisites mentioned. You say, "A Jew is a Jew is a Jew" - now how many times have I heard the Chabad Rabbi say that! However, it is very misleading - a Jew is a Jew only IF you say he/she is one!


08/05/2002 05:41:57 PM

By the way...there is a big inaccuracy in one of your statements. The whole laws of conversion are in the talmud (lated codified by the shulchan aruch) so how can they be contingent, according to you, by centuries of Muslim anti semitism if Islam started in 7 century A.D.? Kol tuv


08/05/2002 05:40:18 PM

There is no such thing as "orthodox" conversion. THere is conversion al pi halacha vedat moshe or there is a conversion that is not al pi halacha.


08/05/2002 05:38:57 PM

Baruch - there is no such thing as orthodox. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. Whether or not that Jew is halachic and follows torah is a different issue. Do you think that hashem gave us torah and then told us to create movements where picks and chooses what he/she want to violate? Actually for your information the whole term orthodox was given by the people who established the reform movement who wanted to pain torah observant jews as "extremists" and "primitive." So much for moshe mendehlson whose 8 grandchildren intermarried and assimilated.


08/05/2002 05:36:28 PM

Baruch, Where in Torah does it say that non-Jews have to know torah in order to usher in the messianic age? On the contrary...the whole point is that they won't know torah so that when mashiach tzidkeinu comes they will "cling on to the garments of every Jew." When mashiach comes the knowledge of G-d will be like the water covering the sea. Bayom hahoo yiheh echad veshemo echad. Thw hole point is that the messianic era is going to suprise and refute the idol worship of the non-Jews. Whether or not the messianic age comes is contingent on our fulfillment of mitzvot and many other obligations that the rambam elucidates in "hilchos" melachim." It is FORBIDDEN for non-Jews to keep halacha. The whole point of the torah is that am yisrael received 613 mitzvot and that this is the covenant between hashem and am yisrael. Am yisrael can teach the world about G-d but not encourage them to follow taryag mitzvot. Do you envision the whole world walking around with tzitit and yarmulke?


08/05/2002 04:00:57 PM

To: baruch shm..cont'd Either way, whether it is teaching Torah to non-Jews, so that they may practice Hashem's way, or converting non-Jews, you have fashioned a system of Halacha that shuts the doors tight. But, you cannot. Hashem said that we are to be a "light to the nations". And, only until we are, until we spread our light to every person and every dark corner of the earth, will the Maschiach come. While you hover around your light and hide it from the nations, standing on ceremony and a technicality, do you honestly think you are accellerating the Messianic Age? I don't think so.


08/05/2002 04:00:35 PM

To: baruch shm... jrw3800 is correct. Throughout the ancient world non-Jews attended Synagogue worship and practiced Mitzvot. You still have failed to show anything in the Torah that forbids non-Jews from practicing Mitzvot. Citing a Midrash - which was told to make quite a different point - sheds no light on the position of the Torah, or, of G-d, on this matter. Yes, you are right, they can also simply convert. However, in the case of an Orthodox Conversion, I would not preface the verb "convert" with the adverb "simply", since it is anything but that! Having been conditioned by centuries of anti-Semitism in the Christian and Muslim worlds, the Orthodox have turned Judaism on its head by putting up tremedous roadblocks, both official and social, to conversion.


08/05/2002 03:29:30 PM

jrw, If you reject torah than that is fine but don't expect me to join the boat. I know very well what happened to the Karaites and people who emulate them.


08/05/2002 03:28:40 PM

The hashkafa is that if a non-Jew asks you about G-d then you have to explain to him/her what the meaning and the purpose is of the noahide laws. It is said that people who convert to judaism are actually lost neshomas from the time of matan torah. Yitro is a good example for this. There is midrash that says that Hashem offered the torah to all the nations and each on rejected it for their own purpose. Bu they rejected it as a whole not as individuals. That is why those individuals who are lost neshomas have converted to Judaism.


08/05/2002 11:54:31 AM

jrw, The halachos for noahides is that even if they keep shabbos they have to do one thing to violate it. Noahides are not allowed to say baruch ata hashem... or say berachas because this is only designated for the Jewish people. they are alloed to read tehillim. Midrash tells us that Hashem offered the torah to the whole word at mount sinai but the nations rejected it. The nations witnessed the giving of torah yet they rejected it. Hashem made a covenant with noah that pertains to the non-Jewish nations. The truth is that people who want to practice judaism can convert. You can't substantiate judaism through shaye cohen. Is he a rishon. a gaon? He is an apikorus who does not except the divinity of torah. Who should I follow Shay Cohen or Rashi and Rambam?


08/04/2002 06:41:05 PM

Just remember your motivation and intention must be pure, or you shouldn't act on it. Do you want to help another, or do you want to just convert them to what you are? Peace


08/04/2002 06:38:09 PM

baruch_shmuelovitz, all that verse in Numbers shows is that the covenental OBLIGATION to keep Shabbat is limited to Jews--it does not say that non-Jews may not CHOOSE to keep Shabbat. There is a long history of "God-fearers" in the Jewish community who keep all or some Jewish commandments, Shabbat included. For more on these questions, you might want to read Shaye Cohen's THE BEGGINGS OF JEWISHNESS (


08/04/2002 12:15:06 AM

I wrote sing instead of sign in the post below.


08/04/2002 12:13:38 AM

veshamrum bnei israel et hashabbos, laasot et hashabbos ldorosam BRIT OLAM. BEINI VEBEIN BNEI YISRAEL OTI LEOLAM (shemot, numbers 12:7) translation - Between me and the Chidlren of Israel it is a sing forever... So basically that refutes your statement that non-Jews are allowed to keep shabbos. Apart form the fact that there are hundreds of mitzvot just on the issues of the temple. Were non-Jews allowed to keep the mitzvot of the temple?


08/02/2002 05:50:35 PM

To: srowlitt You are incorrect. Judaism is much more than an ethnicity! How could you read the Torah, Prophets, Writings, Talmud, Mishna, Zohar, etc, and say that it is just another ethnic people? You are just revealing, and I really do apologize for the lack of a better term, your ignorance on the subject. Good Shabbas!


08/02/2002 03:54:41 PM

Being Jewish is an ethnic designation. Judaism is the religion most associated with this ethnic peoples. The Torah teaches that a Gentile who embraces the God of Israel is to be considered as if they were born in the land aka ethnically Jewish. As to proselytizing or witnessing, Judaism does not prohibit this practice. In fact, the ultra Orthodox do attempt to bring fellow Jews into the Orthodox fold and 'anti' missionary Jewish organization oppose any form of Christian witnessing or the validity of Christianity for Jewish people.


08/02/2002 03:05:20 PM

A great (and humorous!) editorial on proselying both of and by Jews appeared in Time about a year ago. Entitled “Don’t want to Convert? Just say no” it is written by Michael Kinsley, a non-observant Jew. He makes some excellent points re: the who proselyting controversy, placing it in prespective. Go to:,9171,1101010219-98949,00.html


08/02/2002 11:32:52 AM

To: baruch shm. Where does it state in the Torah that it is "PROHIBITED" to teach Torah to non-Jews? Or where does it say that the non-Jews are "PROHIBITED" from doing Mitzvot, like observing Shabbot and keeping Kosher? No where does it ever state that! I challenge you to show the readers otherwise. And, before you try it, don't try to use the fact that Torah addressed "b'nei Yisrael", the "children of Israel", when certain Mitzvot are commanded. That only proves the Jews are obligated. Worst case, you could say that for non-Jews the Mitzvot are optional - that is a far cry from your "PROHIBITED". But, you are really missing the point - once they convert to Judaism, the point is mute. They are Jews, just like you (I assume) and me. And why not? We should return Judaism to its roots of openness and universalism. Otherwise, the anti-Semites of the early Christian and Muslim worlds have truly beaten us down for good.


08/02/2002 09:35:45 AM

Vict2r: Hello. Yes, I would like to understand more about becoming Jewish. If I were to marry a person whose faliy is "conservative jewish" would my children be accepted as equals among those other children of that faith?


08/02/2002 07:47:52 AM

1.1 of 3 (Sorry for numbering mixup... too much to fit into 3 so I had to break it into "1.1" and "1.2") Baruch, Please understand, I really do apprecialte your manner and tone, but the arguements you put forward are simply subjectively based and cannot be meaningful to anyone other than those who wish to identify with your particular worldview. That is, what you are saying has no relevance to the rest of the world, although it may seem suitable to you personally for your own purposes. "I have a question for you. Is the inquiry into the Christian Testament a uncompromising part of Christianity?" Actually, No. Certainly today's American Protestant evangelical fundamentalist who's come to control the public face of "Christianity" within our culture would say otherwise.


08/02/2002 07:46:07 AM

(1.2 / 3) Does this make it so however? Sincerely and truly... No. There are many approaches to Christianity, modern and ancient. To some who choose to identify this way, Christ is God. To others he is an inspiring leader or guide to spiritual enlightenment. Christainity has orginizations which vie for control of what "Christianity" means... however, any single Christian persons understanding and approach, objectively, is entirely a matter of personal understanding, interpretation, and experience. Some do not agree with this? So what? Although I'm sure you don't agree with this in the arena of Judaism, Judaism can, and actually does, operate in a similar way. You don't agree? Again, so what? You cannot tell Jewish people who don't accept your approach that they are un-Jewish. Certainly you CAN... But again: So what? You don't control objective reality.


08/02/2002 07:44:36 AM

(2/3) BTW "Well matrineal descent is an uncompromising part of Judaism"... actually this isn't correct. This came about in the Roman era in response to social circumstances of the time. Check this out. "...and yes the Torah also tells the Jewish nation not to assimilate into the mainstream. THese are not interpretations of Torah but rather what the Torah itself says. If you don't accept the divinity of the torah that is perfectly legitimate but don't try to tell me that I am distorting what the Torah tells us because that is not the case." Again, as I stated before, I am not judging your stances with the yardstick of "Judaism"... but with the measure of the moral caliber of the sentiments underying them.


08/02/2002 07:44:16 AM

(3/3) "Judaism IS a universal religion. It has two covenants one for the non-Jewish world and one for the Jewish world." Again, that may sound reasonable to you, but it is simply a subjective cop-out. This statement is frankly is at best meaningless, and at worst insulting and condescending, to others. "You can't play in our group, but you can let us make tell you how to play your own game"??? Who do you expect to listen to that? JK


08/02/2002 01:49:30 AM

As WatchOne indicates, he is confused by the thread, so are many people- Jew and Non-Jew alike, who do not know what Judaism is. one of the three great monotheism, a system of beliefs like Christianity, Janism, Buddhism, etc. Not a "race," like Hitler believed and some Jews- Jews can be and are black, mexican, chinese,etc. Based on the confusion factor alone, I think a little Proselytizing would not hurt. All it takes to become a Jew is to accept the yoke of the law to the extent of the requirements of the sect of Judaism. No need to eat bagles or have curly hair- these things have nothing to do with being a jew- anyone can be a jew that accepts the yoke.


08/01/2002 09:57:32 PM

To WachOne Regarding being Jewish and Judaism: While Jewish refers to the ethnicity and to the faith of a person, I believe it is possible for a person to convert to Judaism, just as it is possible for someone to convert to any other religion or faith.


08/01/2002 09:31:50 PM

AS a non-jew I am extremely confused by this thread. It is my understanding that one cannot "become jewish" one must be born jewish. It is also my understanding that only certain jews have rights to access the real documents and knowledge and that this is determined at least in part by blood lineage. I realize that I may not "desrve a response" since I am not "one of you" but I'd be interested to know how a person can become jewish and how well that person would be accepted, and that person's children would be accepted by the "true" jewish community.


08/01/2002 06:49:06 PM

Jews should not teach torah because that would lead to a backlash equivalent to the crusades. Jews barely have the right to protect themselves in their miniature state let alone teach torah. That is apart from the fact that it is PROHIBITED to teach all the torah to non-Jews. It is prohibited for a non-Jew to keep the Jewish Sabbath and to pray from a Jewish prayerbook (unless he is reading psalms). Whoever embarks on such practices would end up in the odd position of reading prayers from a book that says that you should not read them.


08/01/2002 06:45:57 PM

Baruch: Look carefully and notice that I did not disparage any other group. On the contrary, the fact that the nation of Israel received the torah gives them more obligations than rights. Hashem also made a covenant with the non-Jewish world with the 7 noahide laws. jk - I have a question for you. Is the inquiry into the Christian Testament a uncompromising part of Christianity? Well matrineal descent is an uncompromising part of Judaism and yes the Torah also tells the Jewish nation not to assimilate into the mainstream. THese are not interpretations of Torah but rather what the Torah itself says. If you don't accept the divinity of the torah that is perfectly legitimate but don't try to tell me that I am distorting what the Torah tells us because that is not the case. Judaism IS a universal religion. It has two covenants one for the non-Jewish world and one for the Jewish world.


08/01/2002 06:41:09 PM

PLease don't think I'm trying to be rude. But, this article seems to conflict what is ahppening in the Mid East. The Jews think that Jeruswalem is their Holy land, which is why they are fighting for it. Yet, if Iaccording to some of the posts here) Jews don't proselytize because they believe that you don't have to be a Jew to be a good person, then why are the Jews the 'chosen ones'? CHosen for what? I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just extremely confused right now.


08/01/2002 05:17:23 PM

I believe Jews should open their faith in the Torah to everyone. Elitism and inflated egos leads to paranoid delusions of grandeur, seperation from others and targetting for racial and spiritual profiling. There is much to gain, very little to lose, except war profits.


08/01/2002 05:16:32 PM

Baruch, "Please point out any element of racism or any element that is antithetical to judaism." I am using the idea of "racism" to characterize the insular sentiment which feels free to thoughtlessly disparrage outsiders of one's own particular group.... which you effectively argue should be MORE DIFFICULT to belong to through any means other than by blood lineage (i.e. "race") Second point (in response to "how are my statements antithetical to Judaism?"): You misunderstand if you assume I'm using Judaism as the yardstick to examine your attitudes. I'm not. And I make no comment as to how "Jewish" or "un-Jewish" any of your statements are. Rather I've made my statements, evaluating what you've said in terms of the moral quality of the sentiments you've expressed. (continued below)


08/01/2002 05:16:18 PM

(continued from above) Finally, "Well the best way to serve humanity is to follow torah." I know that is the standard response, but frankly you are bright enough to be aware that objectively, that's a cop-out. I'm sure you realize that anyone can take any subjective standard and paste in where you've pasted "torah", and this could then effectively use this to completely excuse themself from adherence to any universal standard, meaningful to those OUTSIDE their insular sub-community. JK


08/01/2002 04:33:07 PM

jkopanko: Why resort to racism and fanaticism? Do you think this makes anyone take notice of your viewpoints? Get rid of the chip on your shoulder and realize that you are part of the human family like all the rest of us, and your primary obligation is likewise to that family in a very basic way, much moreso than to any cultural movement, theological viewpoint, racial identity, etc. Baruch: There is nothing racist in what I typed and with all due respect for you my obligation is to follow and serve G-d, not to follow what the trends are. Please point out any element of racism or any element that is antithetical to judaism. You mention that my obligation is to the human family. Well the best way to serve humanity is to follow torah. When Jews maintain their heritage and torah then that is the ultimate act of goodkindedness to humanity. What way of serving humanity do you propose?


08/01/2002 02:03:19 PM

bardmountain, You make a good point. I can see what you're saying, that religious ignorance is by choice. Perhaps it's a choice is born of jadedness (if that's a word), perhaps of a general intellectual laziness, or perhaps of Christianity's long history of stupidity and abusiveness when it comes to missions and evangelism. Whatever. On the other hand, I think it's possible to offer such information without "beating it into" people. People talk about spirituality and religion all the time. What's wrong with someone, in friendly conversation, telling their story of how their religious experience has been meaningful in their journey, and then, if their friend has no particular involvement of their own, inviting them to check out their religious community? I also think that your mailing idea is a good one. Thanks for the exchange!


08/01/2002 11:55:11 AM

Baruch, Why resort to racism and fanaticism? Do you think this makes anyone take notice of your viewpoints? Get rid of the chip on your shoulder and realize that you are part of the human family like all the rest of us, and your primary obligation is likewise to that family in a very basic way, much moreso than to any cultural movement, theological viewpoint, racial identity, etc. JK


08/01/2002 11:10:13 AM

I don't have a problem with Jews proselytizing. There are plenty of people that are dissatisfied with the religion they are in and are looking for a satisfactory alternative, and I think Judaism is a great one. It is moral, ethical, practical, and concentrates on this world, not the other. I see absolutely nothing wrong with putting an ad in a newspaper inviting those who are interested in learning more, or even returning to Judaism, a chance to decide for themselves. Jews have many times said how hard it is to live as a Jew. Well, that's true, but it's also hard to live as a true Christian or true Moslem for that matter.


08/01/2002 06:55:17 AM

bad idea!!! when we start excepting each other (those who are already jews) as equals mabey then, lets not look for more problems, we have enough, don't you think so?


08/01/2002 12:48:13 AM

Dear Friends, in way i am glad your faith dose not, but if Jesus never came to be with us. I would rahter be a jew than pagan anyday of week. I would rather worship true G_d than fake. Danny


07/31/2002 04:13:45 PM

The reform movement which has always wanted to "Christianize" our beautiful heritage wants to reduce all of Judaism to one single maxim: "Tikun olam." All of the halachos of shabbos and kashrus are all obsolete.


07/31/2002 04:05:53 PM

It is my hope that Jews will wake up and see the distorted intentions of these individuals and reach the obvious conclusion that these movements are obsolete just like other groups that denied the divinity of the torah were in their time in age. Lets be clear about this... the suggested policy of prosylitizing is not a result of pure intentions that have been consolidated through conferences and halachic repsonsas but rather a reaction to the destruction of these movements by assimilation and intermarriage


07/31/2002 04:05:25 PM

think that many people here who support proseltyzing do not take into account the consequences of such actions. The mass proselytizing during the time of the second temple lead to much of the anti-Jewish rhetoric and theology in Christianity. There is a Gemora that tells us that Am Yisrael is not a nation that is like the other nations. Am Yisrael is an "Am levado yishkon" - a nation that does not succumb to the trends and fads of mainstream society. Judaism is not a popularity contest.


07/31/2002 04:05:00 PM



07/31/2002 02:48:14 PM

How about this for a better alternative? Rather than going door to door like vacuum salespeople, send out a mass mailing for an area and have people call a number if they want someone to come by their home. That way people have the opportunity to get more information if they want, and if people aren't interested they won't be disturbed at their homes. That way, everybody should be happy. Just make it a mailing rather than a phoning - telemarketers are worse than unexpected drop-bys :).


07/31/2002 02:42:21 PM

akbusch, I would agree with you that most Americans are ignorant about the details of even their own religion. I would argue, however, for most people the information is accessible - the ignorance is by choice. The material to learn about religion is everywhere. Some people just aren't interested in it. So, since they are ignorant by choice, why knock on their door to beat facts in them they aren't interested in knowing?


07/31/2002 12:52:01 PM

I disagree with the thought that most people know enough about the Jewish religion in order to make an informed choice. The religious ignorance of American people is astounding. Many people are all but totally ignorant of the basics of Christianity, the "majority" religion in the US, and this includes many who identify themselves as Christians. One can easily guess then how much more ignorant most Americans would be of the basics of the Jewish faith. Aside from that, to the Jews who are considering inviting people to consider Judaism, I say go for it! Why not? If your faith has brought you meaning and comfort, why not tell someone about it? That would give people that much more information to help them make an informed choice.


07/31/2002 12:18:44 PM

While it is true that 1. Most people do know of the existance of Jews and 2. I don't want people knocking on my door pitching /any/ religion... However, if we are talking just removing barriers to converts and perhaps a public relations campaign that merely informs people they /can/ convert..that could be a good idea. (There are an astounding number of people who assume you can only become Jewish if you are born one or marry one...) and to maybe offer courses to tell non-Jews what Judaism is really about. (Yes, we know about Judaism, but there's alot of misinformation, both from, of course, those who hate Jews, but even well meaning Christians, who interpret Judaism from a naturally Christian perspective.)


07/31/2002 10:57:14 AM

bard, I agree with you overall but would say just one thing: "Does anybody not know about Judaism? ...If people want to become Jewish, I don't think a lack of pamplets is holding them back." The point seems to be a shift of emphasis from having a skiddish, tentative stance on the issue of accepting converts, to a more open-armed approach. I know that there is a great deal of debate between the different official branches of Judaism on conversion issues. I also know of people who have wanted to convert who have been openly discouraged, and have really had a difficult time because the process is set up to be discouraging. (continued below)


07/31/2002 10:57:02 AM

(2/2 - continued from above) I don't think there's any harm in a positive, proactive approach to Jewish proselytizing. I think it's simply the negatives that we've all seen that simply have to be kept out of the process. Of course, the door-to-door, Jehovah's Witness approach illustrated in the article is really invasive, and is aimed at creating a coercive situation. But I think there are certainly completely acceptible avenues for Jewish proselytims to occcur, such as through sponsored programs open to the whole community, which make that "openness" clear, which might create unthreatening opportunities for those interested in Judaism to get involved in learning more


07/31/2002 10:47:18 AM

I think the positive aspect of the concept of proselytization in Judaism is that it draws more attention to converts, who are often thought of as outsiders in some way, even the ones who are more observant that born Jews. This idea could create a better support system for converted Jews. Just a thought.


07/31/2002 09:36:53 AM

I have to give the big thumbs down to prosleytizing, for two practical reasons: 1. Does anybody not know about Judaism? It's not like it's some little group that nobody every heard of. If people want to become Jewish, I don't think a lack of pamplets is holding them back. 2. I've always thought that people go seeking religion, and not that religion goes seeking people. Going door to door seems like it reverses the natural relationship of a seeker and a religion. (Of course, given the number of Jehovah's Witness', it must work to some degree...). To me, yout home is your personal refuge. People should come when invited. Just having them show up on your doorstep, however inoccuous their intentions, is an intrusion, and not the best way to introduce your religion.


07/31/2002 08:51:15 AM

In response to KathyHL, Jewish "prosleytization" as implied in this article does not seek to condemn the validity of other religous paths. It simply a more proactive attempt to open its arms to potential new converts.


07/31/2002 08:26:14 AM

... this much said. There is also a danger, on the other end of the spectrum, of actively making the religion purposefully inaccessible. The danger here, particularly apparent in the modern, interconnected world, a sublte variety of something akin to racism: The fact that someone may be actively discouraged from participating in something that may be very resonant and meaningful with him because of an accident of birth, is really something unfortunate that should not be minimized.


07/31/2002 08:18:48 AM

There is definitely positive proselytizing and negative proselytizing. I agree that any religion should be free to do the former: to make itself available to those not already born into its congregation, by embracing seekers, and even proactively providing information. However, the type of Christian proselytizing we all are most familiar with (i.e. "Accept Jesus as God our burn in hell forever", and represented in language such as "saved" or "unsaved" to describe people) is definitely quite negative, and it is this that gives the whole concept a bad name. The main issue seems to be, no proselytizing should use scare tactics, coercion, the threat of ostracism, etc. in proselytizing... it should be done as a simply as making information available, combined with welcoming those who would want to take part.


07/31/2002 06:47:23 AM

The article is MISLEADING. Jewish proselytization up to the end of the ancient Roman empire was VASTLY DIFFERENT from modern proselytization. Back then, it was proselytization from Paganism to monotheism. As there are now fully entrenched monothestic religions in this age, it is INCORRECT to compare modern efforts to proselytize to those "highly successful efforts" back then. Today, proselyting would take the aspect of simple lack of respect and in some cases, a direct violation of Torah as it would be based upon a misunderstanding. In any case, the proselytizing technique of back then is NOT COMPARABLE to the methods of deception and persuasion used today, so again there is no comparison. I am very disturbed by the false implications inherent in this article; that Jewish prosleytization back in ancient times is even remotely comparable to modern proselytization techniques either in scope or method.


07/31/2002 01:28:41 AM

ironically, one of the main criticisms Jesus Christ had of Jewish pharisees of his day was their proselytizing (Matt. 23:15). with that in mind, it seems tragic that Christians have abused proselytization. i don't think Jews should return to this practice any more than i think Christians, Muslims and others should continue to take it to the extreme. ~MATEO


07/30/2002 10:31:13 PM

Ironically, one reason why Judaism is one of the few religions I admire (and might consider joining, if asked!) is that they don't hassle people all the time, and don't spout that "you're-going-to-hell-if-you-disagree-with -us" b.s. for which Christianity and Islam are so well known. I really don't know what I think about this one. I've made my dislike of missionary behavior very well known here and in other forums. But, if religion isn't going to go away, then I'd like to see many, many religions coexisting - the world needs alternatives to Christianity and Islam.


07/30/2002 07:25:49 PM

Jews shouldn't proselytize because we've seen the effects of proselytization run amock. For instance one main focus of the Inquisition was to attempt to force Jews to accept Jesus. We can however promote human dignity, ethical behavior, and morality in accordance with Judaism without trying so hard to gain converts to our religion. Porselytization is something that was really created by Christians and the last thing Jews want is to try to make Judaism more like Christianity.


07/30/2002 12:03:00 AM

Legion - Completely insane equating Jewish proselytizing with Jehovah's Witnesses that visit you daily! Jewish proselytizing is more about "if your interested come check out this class" it's not knock on everyone's door and tell them why they should be Jewish (this is definitely the exception than the rule). I am very pro-proselytizing in a respectful manner. Have information out there for people to find and seek more. The "turning away" part I think is ridiculous simply because the conversion process (varies between the different types of Judaism) is quite extensive and is hard work. It's not like you can just say a prayer invoking someone as your lord and savior and then your a Jew. The process of converting alone is tough enough to turn away some would-be converts.


07/29/2002 09:20:25 PM

I know several potential Jews by choice - including husbands of Jewish women raising a child together - who went to a rabbi with a sincere desire to covert and were "turned away" a la Ruth and Naomi a couple of times, took being told no seriously, and as a result did not covert. So their children together did not get raised Jewish, and a seriously interested potential Jew was shut out. Sad. Isn't it time to say "Great, Yes, Join Us, Here's How" when someone says they want to covert and come knocking on a rabbi's door asking to be let in?


07/29/2002 06:11:53 PM

In short NO!


07/29/2002 02:46:00 PM

Great! Just another religious group to slam my door upon!