The Minority Report – Introspection
The title was inspired by a friend of mine after I had an episode with a disgruntled patriot.
So I had a verbal dialogue, debate and full-blown argument with a person who didn’t like my point of view on certain subjects. For him personally, my ideas seem too similar to a Seven Commandment observant Gentile who is quite knowledgeable in the Torah with regards to Gentile Law, and this Gentile he did not like whatsoever. So he continued, in his diatribe, to associate us together and insult us both in order to both further himself and to discredit us.
As his anger poured out in the argument, he thought it best to quote a stranger in regards to what others thought of me and my associate. Again, this was in order to publicly slander me as best he could. It’s important for you to know that there are people in this world that are so invested in idols and illusions that, once they feel their idols and illusions are attacked, they will be happy to drag your name through the dirt publicly and feel they are doing the world a service. It’s important that you have strategies in place to deal with such people and the after-effects, that you focus on what is real and true and not on the insults and daggers that are thrown at you. What is real? God and his Truth, his principles for right-living. Cling to that and the rest doesn’t matter as much. Nuff said!
Anyway, according to this stranger that the patriot quoted – he is nothing more than a stranger since he doesn’t know me, has never met me, has never taken the time to get to know me – my associate and I had cut ourselves off from something called “normative Judaism”, and disassociated from the rabbis, and had gone about creating a new religion.
From here on in, I’ll speak for myself. My associate knows himself well enough to deal with such accusations in his own way.
I think it is important to absorb and analyse certain criticisms, especially when they are as serious as what was said regarding me. Some criticisms are best thrown into the garbage or the toilet straight away. But with this criticism, knowing how extreme my stance may seem to some, I felt it was important to check myself, to see how true such a criticism was. I asked one of my teachers for his view on such a comment and his wording helped me see more clearly how to treat such a characterisation of myself.
Cut off from normative Judaism?
I think it’s important to be clear and precise when one speaks, so that a person understands what you mean. It helps us to avoid confusion.
The normal definition of Judaism is “the monotheistic religion of the Jews associated with the Jewish Bible or Torah”. That’s my paraphrase. Now one thing should be clear from my previous posts, but I’ll just restate it.
I’m not a Jew. I’m a Gentile.
Because of this, at least in a certain sense, I’m not in the religion of Judaism because I am not a Jew. I’m not part of that “club”.
The word “religion” is a departure in thought from what Torah is supposed to be. Speaking concretely, the Torah is God’s objective standard for all humanity. For every Jew, regardless of whether they accept it or not, is responsible for keeping the stipulations of the covenant given to Moses. Every Gentile, regardless of whether they accept it or not, is responsible for keeping the stipulations given at creation and re-emphasized in the days of Noah and in the Torah of Moses, i.e., the Seven Commandments. It’s got nothing to do with artificial illusions like “religion”. If you’re a Jew, you’re meant to be living a certain way. If you’re a gentile, you’re meant to be living a certain way. It’s not about unreal labels.
I know, I know, I’ve said this before, but there’s a reason why I’m saying it. For this stranger who attempted to condemn me, his main point of reference was not what is real, i.e., how I live my life. He is beyond that. He has no clue about how I live. If he actually cared about what was real, his point against me would have been as follows:
“He has cut himself off from normative halakhah for non-Jews.”
Hmmmm …. Let me put that in a more understandable way.
“He has stopped living in accordance to the Seven Commandments which Gentiles should keep.”
Unfortunately for him, as I said before, the stranger is a total stranger to me. So he would have no clue about what is real.
Let’s try a different approach. Maybe his charge against me is that I’ve stopped teaching what is normally taught by the group he associates with. He associates with a religious group called “the Noahides”. As you can see in my posts, I focus a lot more on the practical keeping of the core Seven Commandments. That means I don’t focus so much on prayer or worship. I have no care for some “universal sabbath” that some feel is necessary or important for Gentiles to keep. I don’t keep Jewish holy days or talk about keeping them, although the messages that are drawn from these days (not the practical observance of them by Gentiles) are amazing. I’m not so concerned about what can be seen as “religious observances” but more on promoting the core Seven Commandments, and the surrounding teachings and laws that help improve the way one lives morally.
There’s nothing there that really stands out and slaps someone in the face and says “hey, guess what, you stand apart from the standards for Gentiles”.
So at least where this criticism is concerned, after digesting at least the words, I can set this criticism to one side as generally irrelevant. Who knows? I may be challenged with it again. Who knows?
For anyone reading this, it is important to look at the way you are living to see “am I living according to at least the basic standard?” That should be your main aim, not necessarily religious affiliation. Focus on obedience, not necessarily how many friends you make.
Cut off from the rabbis
Now this claim against me is gonna be strange to those who read my blog. Why? Because in most of the articles I write, I’m quoting rabbis. What is not known to so many is that when I have difficult questions, I’ve got no problem with going to the rabbis to ask for advice, and those rabbis are fine and comfortable giving me answers when and if they have the time. I even wrote an article which, although it was talking about rabbis not having legal authority in Gentile lands, it admitted the fact that it is the Sages who are the experts, the ones who have been faithful to the Torah and discussed even parts of the Seven Commandments. It’s important to listen to them, especially if they are just bringing down what was said before in their Torah-traditional history. I personally differ with some on what authority the advice of the rabbis have for a Gentile.
But as can be seen, I’ve learnt from rabbis and Jews, I refer to them often. Most of my specified knowledge on the Seven Commandments and other Torah subjects comes from learning from their works, modern and ancient.
It should be added that there has been no word from the majority of rabbis that I have somehow cut myself off from them.
Let’s notice a fact that seems to miss some. I’m a Gentile. Not only that, but I live in a place where there’s no significant observant Jewish community. I don’t live under a rabbi. As a Gentile, should I be? I mean the Jewish community have themselves to take care of. Their rabbis generally take care of their own. It’s a blessing that nowadays there are resources available for a Gentile to learn many of the specifics of his responsibility without being “under a rabbi”. Sure, one can ask a rabbi a question if such a rabbi can be found and if he has the time or relevant expertise. But should the realistic approach for Gentiles be to have the same relationship with rabbis as Jews? This may sound weird, but I don’t think so, especially considering I just said it was important to listen to them.
Actually there is nothing contradictory about it. A rabbi is an integral part of the Jewish community. That makes sense. In some ways they’re supposed to be the continuation of the ancient judges of Israel. They have a special role in their own Jewish community. That natural role doesn’t stretch to the rest of the world. The Jewish nation as a whole are to be a light to the nations by their example. But Jews don’t ensure that there is a rabbi in every Gentile city. And in the past, judges of Israel had no legal jurisdiction outside of the land. So the Gentile interaction with rabbis is different than that of a Jew with a rabbi. And I don’t believe that the Gentile obligations are as detailed and complex as the Jews that we would need such a constant and binding interaction. I believe we should learn what we can and then take responsibility to make decisions for ourselves.
Also, due to the multiplicity of rabbinic opinions out there, it is best for a Gentile to at least learn the foundations and the basics of our responsibility as best we can in order to be able to sift through that multiplicity and do the best we can.
Anyway, it should be clear that I haven’t cut myself off from anyone. I learn what I can and then I do the best I can. I don’t take anyone’s word for it and I don’t just listen to any one rabbi or Jew. In my own particular living situation, I can’t rely on a rabbi or Jew for an answer anyway. They are busy and I live far from any one of them. So that is why I learn the basic and the fundamentals and move on from there, even on my own, knowing Who I’m accountable to, taking responsibility for my own actions, be they right or wrong. But regardless of whether I lived closer to one or not, my aim would be that we Gentiles, after learning what we need, then should take responsibility of ourselves, let the rabbis teach their own, and we Gentiles start to teach our own without so much dependency. CLARIFICATION [this is needed because people tend to read me wrong]: I’m not talking about a total and eternal separation. There can be relationship without dependency.
Anyway, there’s no evidence that I’ve cut myself off from the rabbis.
Creating a new religion
This had to be one of the more laughable claims considering who was saying this to me. I had a little internal dialogue about it in my head to show how ludicrous it was. Let me see if I can remember it enough to share it with you.
Accuser: You, David, have gone off to create a new religion on your own.
Me: Oh, really? Do you know how many followers I have?
Me: Let me tell you. I’ve got … one. One follower.
Accuser: See, at least you have one so you’re starting something, right?
Me: Actually sorry. I’m talking about myself. *chuckle* I’m quite a loner where I am.
Accuser: Well you’re teaching something different to what other Noahides teach.
Me: I never claimed to be a “noahide”.
Accuser: Ah, see! There it is! That just shows that you’re something other than a noahide!
Me: I just don’t like using made-up religious labels. I’m just a Gentile who learns about and keeps the Seven Commandments. That word “noahide” is too ambiguous, sometimes sounding like a religious group like “christians” where people say “oh you’re not a noahide, you’re a [insert another religious label here]”. I’m just a Gentile who keeps the Seven Laws.
Accuser: Well, I’ve heard you say that prayer isn’t commanded and that belief in God isn’t commanded. You don’t keep Jewish holy days. That just ain’t right. Plus you disagree with my rabbi.
Me: Wait there! I thought we were talking about the Seven Commandments. I can appreciate that there is something logical, rational and beneficial about knowledge of God (not just belief) and prayer. But they aren’t commanded. I appreciate that many other principles are beneficial to people and society and I will emphasize them as such. But I don’t make out that God commanded more than the Seven Commandments. So please tell me, how exactly I am creating a new religion? What innovative stuff am I teaching?
I should end it open like that because I really have no clue how I’ve started a new religion. I don’t advocate religious practices. I don’t advocate the starting of a whole new religious group. I don’t tell Gentiles to adopt Jewish commandments as if God commanded them to Gentiles when he didn’t. I just want people to do what is morally right and to uphold justice according to God’s law for Gentiles, the Seven Commandments. Maybe some may not like the way I’m critical of government and some law documents that are raised up to weirdly high statuses. Maybe I’m critical of Gentiles who know about the Noahide Code making up new groups and new names to distinguish themselves religiously from other Gentiles. But that’s hardly creating a new religion.
So again, I’ve got no compelling reason not to toss that accusation in the garbage.
Why the minority report?
The fact is that in a lot of ways, I walk alone or amongst a few. What I have written about in the past has turned off some Gentiles that still wants all the decoration of religious practices. My stance on certain issues such as prayer and the way I talk about it on social media has disgruntled a number of people who once seemed to like me. I’ve had disagreements with at least one rabbi who has a following of Gentiles about the way he teaches and what he teaches. I know that Americans and other nationalists and patriots don’t like the way I disparage their law codes, like the constitution (although I do see some pragmatic use for such entities for now). There are those that see the “bare” Seven Commandments as so savage and brutal that they compare it to Muslim sharia law or tyrannical law, although those same people betray the Seven Commandments’ foundation which is justice (taking all factors into account to give an adequate and reasoned response) with such a distorted view. My no-nonsense view of the Seven Commandments as social commandments and obligations from God as opposed to religious ones can be jarring and that has left me surrounded by only a few.
But do numbers really matter when it comes to truth?
A friend of mine shared with me some words from rabbi Hirsch (ooops, did I mention another rabbi? LOL!) where he discusses the concept of seeming to be in the minority. He discusses both its pros and its cons, its advantages and its dangers. But he made the point that many times in history, even when it comes to the history of the Jews from Abraham, the truth was borne only by the minority, whether Abraham in his culture, or the nation of Israel alone amongst the many other idolatrous nations, or the amount of Jews that actively resisted the Greeks in the times of the Maccabees.
This is not to say I have the truth or that I’m completely right about everything. It would be arrogant for me to make that claim. But imagine if what this stranger said had some truth to it. What if I had cut myself off from what he saw as “normative Judaism”, or more properly what he saw as the proper way to keep the Seven Commandments? What if I had cut myself from those he saw as rabbis? Rabbi Hirsch faced something similar when an entity called “Reform Judaism” took root in his country. He saw that commandments were being spiritualized or ignored and that the rabbis and teachers were deviating from the commandment. It’s important to stress that I am talking about deviating from the God-given commandment. Although he was in the minority, he still took a stand for the commandment, for the obligation to what God enjoined on the Jewish people.
Now I know that certain religious practices are popular amongst “noahides”. But my main concern is making sure that I myself do not deviate from the commandment for Gentiles. I won’t say that God commanded something he didn’t. I won’t claim that man-made laws are better than God’s basic standard. I won’t judge the Seven Commandments as harsh and brutal because I have a better view of the constitution or rights upheld by the country I live in. I won’t make the Seven Commandments seem bare and sparse and morally dead or stagnant or inferior because it doesn’t also command the religious commandments I want to see or because it doesn’t have some of the Jewish commandments. I’m happy to proclaim what is logical, rational, and beneficial from the Jewish commandment, but I won’t make out as if they are commanded to us Gentiles and I won’t make out as if a Gentile’s life is empty without those commandments or philosophical teachings. I won’t accept the teachings or authority of a person simply because they have “rabbi” as a title or Jewishness in their blood.
My main allegiance is to those seven broad categories of commandments especially because of the One who commanded them in the first place. They are my primary obligation and my primary responsibility, not affiliation to a country or religion. Whether anyone else likes that or not or the way I go about it, it’s not a major issue for me. Obedience to God is, and proclaiming obedience and human responsibility.
Someone wishes to condemn me because of that? Well, too bad!