The “Ger” above us all
Someone shared an experience online. They felt the desire to share it with others. And it starts off positively in a sense. Look, I’m not so much into the religious stuff but even I can appreciate that people can have a happy time on the seventh day, and just because they do, that, in and of itself, doesn’t mean condemnation. But, unfortunately, this person who considers himself a “ger” decides to end what was a positive experience for him with a statement that shows an attitude I’ve seen too many times amongst those who call themselves “ger.” After describing the negative experiences he’s had as a “noahide” (yes, of course he’s not using the word to refer to non-Jews on a whole, but rather a special group he thought he was part of which was distinct from other people), he decides to end his experience with the following.
In retrospect, I can only conclude that the word Noahide, which was established in the exile outside of Torah harbors aargumentative(sic.) nature as we can still see today, but the word Ger comes from the Torah and is from the spirit of redemption as we can clearly see in unity we experienced in Chicago. Yesterday [7th April 2016 – DD] at 12:59·Public (emphasis mine)
Yes, a new teaching that is being spread around “ger” circles. I had said in an earlier article that it was taught by them and their teacher that “ger” was a Torah term whereas “bnei Noah” was nowhere to be found in Torah. Of course, they were using a faulty definition of Torah that essentially held up the written Torah, but trashed (or silenced) the Torah’s oral tradition. Now the animosity has deepened and the story has developed. Now the bnei Noah, the “noahide,” has been ejected fully from Torah and is simply a product of exile, whereas this “ger” notion is firmly fixed in “Torah.”
This negativity towards the “noahide” and the bnei Noah is not a new or isolated thing as you’ll see in the following sample I’ve extracted from social media.
Take the following for example, the implications of which buttress the previous thought.
This was actually shared by one of the main teachers and founders of this new “ger” entity, a rabbi nonetheless. As he shared with his Gentile followers, the “ger” is the original and the “noahide” is what? The artificial reproduction? With all the talk now that “noahide” is simply the language of the exile whilst “ger” is the language of Torah, it’s easy to come to such a conclusion.
Another among the self proclaimed “gerim” stated the following.
Ah, noahide-ism is suffocation. This isn’t just “noahidism” which would refer to an ideology, but actually “noahide-ism,” namely, being a “noahide,” whatever he conceives that word to mean. That is negativity, that is suffocation, the squeezing out of your life.
On one occasion, one of the “gerim,” after taking the opportunity to misrepresent certain “noahides” as “no no hides,” took the time to speak out about the hypocrisy within the teachings about Noahides and warned against the “noahide agenda” of the rabbis. The word “noahide” has become something nasty, to be disdained.
I once made it known to a group that certain of the “ger” crowd put themselves across as being superior to the common Gentile or “noahide,” that they disparaged the noahide and elevated themselves. This is not a universal trait amongst these so-called “gerim” but it’s present in their midst and at their head.
Someone tried to defend the “gerrings” (I swap between “gerim” and “gerrings” … sorry for any confusion. I mean the same thing), to make it seem as if some amongst them didn’t do this. As I told her, my experience and what I’ve seen with my own eyes says differently. And now I have produced evidence of that experience.
I feel a number of ways about all this.
Firstly, I don’t like the way “noahide” is used anyway. If it simply had the meaning reflecting its use in the Talmud and later discussions on the oral torah and its meaning of “non-Jews on a whole,” then I’d feel comfortable using it. But when I can’t tell if it’s being used to describe the pious of the nations of the world, non-Jewish informal residents of Torah observant Israel (gerim toshavim), or a certain religious sect or ideological group that is distinct from other non-Jews, I prefer to keep away from it. So I’m not so much defending … oh, what did he call it? ah, that’s it, “noahide-ism.” I’m not so much defending that, but rather I’m countering the fallacious depictions that include the people I know. These memes and descriptions of noahides do come across as “we’re better than you,” when, morally, the people producing them are not! Yes, I include the main teacher of the “ger” group in that.
I respect my friends who refer to themselves by the term “noahide,” although their use of the word still leaves me somewhat confused.
[ASIDE: The thing I notice about Rambam’s use of the term, “pious of the nations of the world,” is that it’s not simply the label of a group that you could sign up with. People don’t just become this group of the “pious” as they say you become a “noahide.” It’s just a fact of how a person lives. It’s a bit like the word “righteous.” No one really says, “hey, guess what, I’ve become righteous.” It’s just how they live: the person diligently and thoroughly keeps all the details of the seven and show they acknowledge God and Moses as the ultimate source of the seven laws. Although a person can profess acceptance of God and the source of the seven, the part that involves keeping all the seven is about lifestyle, not proclamation. That’s why people proclaiming that they’ve “become a noahide” makes no sense if it is understood as “pious of the nations of the world.”]
To follow on from that, secondly, I still have good friends who consider themselves “noahides” and this representation of what they follow is a horrible distortion. The diligence they show, the good character they portray, the giving and willing attitude they’ve shown a rebellious, unfriendly guy like me, and also many other people, as well as their experiential knowledge of the seven laws and other ethical values, the “superior” air to teachings of the main founder of the ger notion and some of his followers and their disparaging depiction of these “noahides” don’t do them justice … AT ALL! People are people. There are good and not so good that are found under many labels, even under the “ger” label, as much as some amongst them may wish for them to be depicted as “disciples gathered together in one accord.”
Thirdly, can I be surprised by any of this? First the word “noahide” is used to distance these people from their own kind, the non-Jews, the Gentiles, as if it makes them better than all the others. And then it evolves to getting a new name and teaching to further distance themselves not only from Gentiles on a whole but now also from “noahides.” And the main teacher of this group seems happy to fuel this sort of feeling and shows signs of the same superiority complex based on my own dealings with him.
So they left a club and label, to join another club with another label, to then join what seems to be a better club with a better label … oh yeah, and a feeling of closeness to Israel.
One problem is that, thanks to many years of secular and religious indoctrination which conditions the person to find fulfilment not in ethics and morality, but rather in emotionality, so-called “spirituality” and the feeling of closeness to some hidden, deeper knowledge kept secret from people in general, people approach the seven laws with the approach of a drug addict given a choice between, on one hand, going cold turkey, finding fulfilment in obedience to and study of our responsibility and commandments, character building, rational ethics and morality reflected in some parts of the Jewish Torah but which is part of us reflecting God’s image and, on the other hand, using a modified substitute, continuing trying to find fulfillment in a religious fellowship with traces of mysticism, “spirituality,” ritual and that sense of exclusivity from the other Gentiles or “goyim” (used in the derogative sense of “idol worshippers”).
Hmmm … that was one hell of a sentence, right? I’m not supposed to do long sentences. Tell me if you have trouble understanding what I mean in it. Then I’ll probably chop it up and edit it and take out this paragraph. Or maybe not. I like internal dialogue. Did any of you guess that already? But no guarantees, as it makes sense to me.
Where was I?
I think it’s time to add the caveat.
I’m not a collectivist. Or at least I try not to be. I try not to lump everyone in one group and condemn or praise the whole lot. The individual exists. In some senses, the individual is real, whilst the group is just a construct of the mind.
I know a few great guys who associate somewhat with the ger teaching. I’m not saying they are all arrogant and that they all look down on “noahides” and “gentiles.” We disagree about some things. And it’s ok to disagree. There’s one guy, I’ll call him “the Idolsmasher,” we disagree about the topic of “ger.” But you know what? He, not me, but he, he showed me solidarity when he declared that he and I still fought together, shoulder to shoulder, for truth. He is a man of honour even with our differences in view. He calls himself “ger” but he still sees us as brothers. Yeah! Me, the self proclaimed outsider, and him, the self proclaimed “ger!”
And there’s another respected friend of mine, Terry, who has read and enjoyed the book written by that main teacher of the “ger” notion, “The World of the Ger.” Yet he always holds out the hand of friendship. Label or no label, it’s all good in the hood! … Errr, I mean we are still good friends. Yes, I believe there are good people who call themselves “ger” and who call themselves “noahide.”
There are people who take on the label “noahide” and “ger” for whom, by their actions, it’s not about being part of an exclusive group.
It’s important to say “by their actions,” because I’m sure many will defend themselves with words and yet with create memes and give misrepresentations such as I showed you early on in this blogpost.
If there is a good man or woman who has no label, or labels himself or herself “ger” or “noahide,” I would hope we could stand shoulder to shoulder for morality, for God’s law and truth.
But people are people. To be honest, I may not like you for personal, practical or ideological reasons. For some reason, there is a tendency amongst us humans to separate, to dispute, to conflict. It happens with Gentile and Jew alike, even amongst God-minded people or the Torah-observant. We ain’t always gonna be close friends or even acquaintances. That doesn’t mean the world is all evil. It’s just a fact of life apparently.
But this superiority nonsense is simply that: nonsense. It is especially thus when it is based on falsehood, like notions such as “bnei noah” or “noahide” is a non-Torah, exile term, or “the no no hides,” to name a few.
Disagree? Sure. Disagree in truth and with as much love or respect as you can muster.
Ok, I think I’m done.
But I can hear some retorts already. “But you maligned our rabbi …” Yeah. Let’s agree to disagree there, yeah?
PS. My friend, Alan Cecil, had comments on what that initial “gerring” had to say and has a fuller rendition of his words. You can find it at https://academyofshem.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/the-presents-of-moshiach/.