Guest Article: The Torah Thumpers
by Alan Cecil, edited by David Dryden
Last week [that’s quite some time ago now -DD], I was engaged in a discussion with a “Torah Thumper”, a Gentile cognizant of the Seven Commandments whose background was evangelical Christianity and deemed himself a “Noahide”. He was complaining that the Jews were not actively going out into the Gentile community to battle against the idol-worshiping Christians, and bringing light unto the goyim (nations). This “Noahide” felt that it was the mission of Israel to “spread the Torah” among the Gentiles, much in the same way as evangelical Christians spread the gospel. I tried to explain to him that this was not the way it was supposed to be, that we Gentiles cognizant of the Seven Commandments were responsible for spreading the Torah amongst ourselves. Teachers and keepers of the Torah the Jews may be, but the eradication of organized religion was our responsibility. The “Noahide” disagreed, citing his sources, and finally bid me adieu.
The problem is that this “Noahide” said that his “number one source was the top Haredi rabbi in Israel.” The Haredi are what others refer to as the “ultra-orthodox,” although the term “ultra-traditional” might be better. These are the Jews who live lives secluded from Gentiles and even non-observant Jews, who dress and live as if they were living in eighteenth century Polish ghettos. I thought that this “Noahide” would be able to connect the dots, that the one Jew that he wanted to go out and spread the gospel of the Torah was probably the least likely to do so. The Haredi have little to do with the non-Torah world.
The “Noahide movement” has been grinding along for about twenty five years, and the vast majority of those who have joined the “movement” are ex-Christians, particularly evangelicals. They have traded Moses for Jesus, the Tanach for the New Testament, and salvation in the Law for salvation in the Gospel. In spite of this, their approach to the Torah has remained distinctly Christian.
These are the Torah Thumpers. They focus on the “spiritual” rather than the “fleshy” aspects of the Torah, which is to say they follow the “religious” teachings of the Torah instead of or with more focus than the halakha (the basic “legal” application of the Seven Commandments). They focus on things such as “prayer” and keeping Jewish holidays [or sometimes whether “Noahides” can wear tefillin and have mezuzot on their doors -DD]. The halakha of the Seven Commandments are ignored, unless they have to do with laws dealing with “individual salvation” such as idolatry and blasphemy. There is little concept of the laws dealing with the community, particularly the law of justice, the one law that can only be fully observed by a community.
The Torah-thumper’s concept of the “Noahide Code” being a “religion” is problematic in that the Torah forbids any sort of organized religion. [It should be noted that sometimes this “Noahide Code” refers to something different to the “Seven Commandments”, a more personal code of behaviour that certain people adopt that seems to add to and sometimes subtract from the details of the basic Seven Commandments. -DD] The very concept of “religion” as something apart from law is an alien Western concept, the idea of “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s.” To observe that which is not a part of the Seven Commandments (such as prayer and Jewish holy days) while ignoring the halakha of the Seven Commandments.
The sad truth about those Torah-thumpers who believe that the “spirituality” of the Torah will earn them salvation is that they think Israel’s salvation means their salvation, the Christian concept that “the Messiah” — haMashiach — will come and “save” not only all the Jews but the Torah-thumpers as well. The Torah-thumpers believe that HASHEM will overlook their involvement in Edom, their support of the Esuvian justice system against the poor, the orphan, and the widow [and all its many other injustices -DD]. They believe that HASHEM will overlook their neglect of the halakha of the Seven Commandments simply because they were “spiritual.” The Torah-thumpers neither realize that the salvation of Israel means the destruction of Edom, nor that they themselves are part of Edom. Sadly, they will realize too late that, instead of being Torah-thumpers, they will be Torah-thumped.